Golf facilities around the world make use of the Golf Environment Organization’s (GEO) OnCourse online programme to manage their club’s sustainability and save money at the same time.
Here we look at just a few examples of how anyone involved with a golf facility can make impactful and sustainable changes leading to economic, environmental and social benefits…
Electric Equipment Initiative
Bear Trace at Harrison Bay, USA
Conversion of 18 pieces of gasoline powered golf course maintenance equipment to fully electric powered units allowed The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay to eliminate the use of over 9,000 gallons of gasoline in a single year saving over $27,000, cutting point source CO2 emissions by over 182,000 pounds of CO2, and eliminating possible contamination from leaking or spilled oils or fluids.
More Biodiversity, Greater Savings, Less Maintenance
Carnoustie Golf Links, Scotland
By minimizing the amount of amenity turfgrass and increasing the size of habitat corridors Carnoustie Golf Links has saved between £2–3,000 since becoming GEO Certified®. Apart from the cost savings, the creation of habitat corridors acts as a buffer zone between sensitive landscapes and has ensured that habitat fragmentation is kept to a minimum. With scrub management programmes, the club continues to identify further ways in which to increase these areas.
Reduced Mowing Results in Cost and Nature Benefits
Golfpark Nuolen, Wangen, Switzerland
By reducing the mowing of the out of play areas by 15%, Golfpark Nuolen has saved €2-3,000 annually. Subsequently this has encouraged the re-naturalization of native areas and the creation of wild life corridors.
On top of this, any fertilizers that are required for the course have been purchased in bulk in conjunction with 3 other clubs. This has resulted in savings of €8,000 to each club and bulk purchasing allows for attaining a better product at a 15-30% lower price.
Finding Cost-savings Through Efficient Energy
Coventry Golf Club, West Midlands, England
Looking to lower electricity use – and costs – Coventry Golf Club completely re-lamped the club’s buildings with low energy, sensor lighting. Solar panels were also installed to help reduce costs, with the excess electricity produced being sold back to the energy company. In the first full year since the work was done, the club cut their electricity costs by 28.5%, amounting to £8,000, which will offset their investment quickly.
OnCourse to Cost and Water Saving at The Home of Golf
St Andrews Links, Fife, Scotland
After an audit of the irrigation system prompted by their participation in the OnCourse programme, some simple steps were taken to become more efficient. For example, the arcs of water nozzles were altered to avoid watering rough while some others were removed altogether. Overall they accomplished a 25% reduction in water use on a greens cycle and a 20% reduction for the fairways; Subsequently the energy use for the pumping system has also reduced.
Turning Waste into Savings
Broken Sound Club, Florida, USA
As part of their overall commitment to sustainability Broken Sound Club invested in a Central Composting Facility, to turn all available biodegradable waste into sterilized organic mulch. This is spread on the fairways and used in the landscape beds. $12,000 was saved on fertilizer expenditure in year one and the money invested in the composting facility will be recouped within 4-5 years.
Cost-savings No Rough Task
Hill Side Golf & Country Club, Vihti, Finland
Finland’s first private golf club considered the amount of rough being maintained and with a more efficient rough maintenance plan they achieved cost savings of €3,500 in 2012. 392 fewer hours were spent mowing rough while fuel and machinery use was reduced. Savings in fuel were part of overall net savings of over €10k from the overall improvements in club resource and management efficiencies.
Looking to Locals for Supplies Cuts Costs and Footprint
Highlands Country Club, Tennessee, USA
Situated in a remote part of Tennessee, the new outlook Highlands Country Club took to make its supply chain more local has been very successful. For example, the uniforms and sanitary products are now purchased from local suppliers who opened the door to negotiate a better deal for the club; while boosting the local economy and thereby strengthening the outside view of the golf club; and a new point of pride in being part of lowering overall pollution from transport.
For more ‘Real Results’ examples visit www.golfenvironment.org/get_involved/real_results.
The benefits of sustainability for golf businesses are beyond question, the hold-up has been simply where and how to start. In part, because of misconceptions that sustainability must first require study, policy writing and a vast amount of planning. That doesn’t need to be the case. Today there are a few practical tools available that can take the guesswork and hassle out of sustainability.
A good place to dive in is OnCourse®, a free web-based programme that guides you step-by-step, asking the right questions about the key sustainability hotspots around your course, clubhouse, and maintenance facility. OnCourse® will help you tell the story of the good work you’re already doing and enable you to improve; saving time and money, enhancing the natural qualities of your course, and boosting your reputation. Rather than spending a lot of time in discussions, drafting a detailed policy or developing a sustainability plan, your focus can be on actions that bring immediate benefit.
OnCourse® serves as your policy and plan – a statement of your commitment, and the path to accessing all the benefits sustainability can bring. And, if you would like to, you can use your OnCourse® report to qualify you for GEO Certified®, golf’s international ecolabel and a great platform for communications and publicity.
The programme is free, widely endorsed and only takes a few minutes to sign up at www.golfenvironment.org/oncourse.