Bob Roberts couldn’t have known that a simple objection to plastic bottles being handed out at a seniors’ event in 2018 would lead to a major environmental award for Market Harborough Golf Club.
However, that’s exactly what happened last week when former senior captain Roberts and greenkeeper Chris Weir collected the Home Unions Award at the Golf Environment Awards (GEA) ceremony in Harrogate.
Now Roberts hopes that his club’s example can be followed by others in Leicestershire and Rutland – and beyond.
From that initial objection to plastic water bottles, Roberts encouraged others within the club to take more of an interest in their local environment.
A steering group was formed, the club committee bought into the action plan, Roberts was able to download an environmental policy template from the England Golf website and the results have been transformational.
An ecological and environmental project was created for 2019 focusing on wildlife and bio-diversity, waste and recycling and education and training.
For 2020, Roberts is in the process of organising a forum for 27 clubs in the county all looking to piggyback on Market Harborough’s simple but effective ideas.
Market Harborough has already forged strong links with the Wildlife Trust and will encourage children from the local primary schools to get involved in environmental activities based around the golf club.
Roberts is thrilled at how a simple observation about plastic bottles at a committee meeting has developed into a sustainability project at his club.
“Year one was all about focusing on three strands,” said Roberts (pictured centre below).
“We were able to encourage wildlife through the simple set up of bird boxes, we could easily improve our waste and recycling policy and we were able to reach out to staff, members and the local community with plans for education and training.
“Golf clubs can too often operate outside the local community, but we want to be at the heart of ours.
“In 2020 we intend to launch a programme with the local primary schools. The children can come in, learn about the environment around the club and then get out to hit a few shots.
“There’s an idea to let the children plant saplings on the course this year.
“I’ve spoken with the Wildlife Trust and they are promoting the concept of national recovery networks.
“It struck me that there are 30 nature reserves in Leicestershire and Rutland but if we get 27 golf clubs at a forum and they form their own environment policies, we are potentially looking at making a huge contribution to the Wildlife Trust’s national aim.”
Market Harborough were not the only English winners at last week’s ceremony.
Warrington Golf Club won the award as Environmental Golf Course of the Year for a series of innovative projects.
Neil Sherman from Ipswich Golf Club in Purdis Heath was honoured as Conservation Greenkeeper of the Year 2020 for his work in restoring the heathland characteristics of his course.
Find out more about becoming a greener club with our environmental management advice