Greetham Valley in Rutland is the 2017 Environmental Golf Course of the Year after 'astounding' the judges of the Golf Environment Awards, hosted by the Sports Turf Research Institute.
The 45-hole golf, hotel and conference centre was applauded for its ‘whole team effort’ to create a sustainable golf course and they beat opposition from top UK venues.
Owners Robert and Dee Hinch paid tribute to the whole team at Greetham Valley, saying “We all work together to tackle and achieve environmental best practice and we are absolutely delighted to have this recognised at such a prestigious awards ceremony.”
Their aim to reduce the carbon footprint and increase biodiversity across Greetham Valley is supported by the staff in all departments, who play their part in numerous eco-projects, and by the long-term sustainability investment by the Hinch family.
Course Manager Adi Porter has implemented many of the ecological initiatives which helped win the award. This has included greatly reducing chemical usage by controlling pests, disease and weeds using holistic techniques; and creating an improved habitat for wildlife by:
• becoming part of Operation Pollinator – “the golf industry’s chance to save UK bees” – creating wildflower meadows and a bee tower;
• erecting a series of nesting boxes for birds and bats;
• constructing a reed bed and 17 new fish ponds which have attracted a diversity of flora and fauna;
• building wildlife-friendly drystone and log walls and a bug hotel for hibernation and shelter;
• erecting birdfeeders, feeding towers and bird hides and creating a floating bird island.
The Hinch family’s long term environmental investments include the installation of two huge biomass boilers, powered by woodchip, which provide heat and hot water for most of the complex.
Since 1990 over 26,000 trees have been planted across the estate and all felled trees are re-used, for example as chippings for pathways and biomass boilers and as logs for the woodburners in the clubhouse and the holiday cottage.
A 40kwh solar panel power system has been installed and LED lighting is fitted throughout the complex. Rainwater is recycled into the irrigation system, more sustainable and efficient sanitary equipment has been installed in public areas, whilst the machinery wash-down system is an environmentally sealed recycling loop. The resort’s holiday lodges were purchased from a company which sources the timber from sustainable Norwegian forests.
Across the complex, cleaning and housekeeping supplies are eco-friendly; vegetable food waste from the kitchen is composted along with grass cuttings and leaves from the golf courses and grounds and the wood chip ash from the boilers. This rich crumbly compost is then used by the greenkeepers across the estate.
Two-thirds of rubbish produced is recycled including glass, plastic and paper, as is engine oil from the workshop, fryer oil from the kitchen and ink cartridges and paper from the offices.
Other awards were:
Conservation Greenkeeper of the Year 2017 – Edward Ainsworth of Avro Golf Club, Cheshire, who impressed with his vivacious passion for wildlife conservation, not only on the nine-hole course that he manages, but within the wider landscape.
Outstanding Environmental Project of the Year 2017 – Frilford Heath Golf Club, Oxfordshire, for their determined and extensive fen restoration works. Their efforts have seen the return of a number of fen indicator species which haven’t been seen for many years.
Operation Pollinator 2017 –to bee and butterfly-friendly John O’Gaunt Golf Club in Bedfordshire, for their mosaic of nectar and pollen-rich habitats created by greenkeeper Stephen Thompson.
Top, from left, Greetham Valley owners Robert and Dee Hinch with course manager Adi Porter.
Below: a course view at Greetham Valley