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England Golf Sustainability Visit

Environment & Health and Safety Officer Gavin Sowden spent the morning with England Golf Sustainability team and Golf ambassadors showing some of our sustainability highlights we carry out here at Woburn. 

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How does a club benefit?

Sustainability has been shown to help save time and money, improve overall quality of the course, and build reputation. After a club completes the OnCourse® programme, a full report representing their efforts, and the basis for continual monitoring and improvement around a consistent plan is provided. GEO Certified®, is golf’s international ecolabel – like FairTrade and there are only 21 clubs in England which are GEO certified with Woburn Golf Club the 7th Club to be awarded re-accreditation.



What have we done?

As a Club, we are committed to protecting the environment and reducing the resource footprint. Examples of what we have been doing are shown below:

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Woodland Management

Woburn Golf Club's woodland nature is balanced against the playability of the courses through strategic maintenance of the under storey. New growth and a second storey, is being encouraged and allowed to establish where golf balls are unlikely to finish. Woodland areas are being managed by thinning to increase light and to encourage new growth in overgrown areas. Dead trees are being retained, in out of play areas, to create additional habitat and perching for birds of prey. Log piles and nesting boxes also enhance habitats for insects and birds.

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Woburn Golf Club provides a venue for a number of events for local business, police, charity and fundraising including local schools and community projects. There are a number of footpaths and bridleways offering great amenity value for local residents. The Club provides a fantastic facility for junior golf and has one of the most active junior sections in the county. The Club has a Sustainability working group that has been working towards improving environmental standards across the club. The adoption of the GEO certification and the move to achieving these standards has involved all stakeholders.

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Water Conservation and Usage

Woburn Golf Club has been using potable water supplied by Anglian Water for use in the clubhouse and for irrigation on the courses. Over the past few years, in an effort to diversify supply, a borehole has been installed with a licence to draw just over 100m3 per day. In March 2013, a 110,000m3 reservoir was completed on an area of unused agricultural land within the estate. Based on previous years irrigation consumption this reservoir should allow Woburn Golf Club to be self-sufficient through the use of direct rainfall or from drainage in place on the courses.

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Ecology Assessment

In preparation for the AIG Women's British Open back in late 2019, an ecology assessment was carried out on behalf of The R&A and the Club specifically to identify any ecological sensitivities. Another visit took place two weeks after the tournament to assess course damage and reparation requirements. Considerations and recommendations included the protection of trees close to the construction of the grandstands located at the 1st tee and 18th green. Protection zones were put in place to protect roots of trees from any construction machinery. Construction staff working on the 12th hole were made aware of likely nesting birds around the margin of the water body and the need to keep spectators away from such areas. The impact of spectators on wildlife habitats determined the traffic routes marked out by ropes during the event.

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Hedge Laying

The environmental benefits of hedge laying are: hedge laying converts a row of small trees into a thick, bushy hedge that provides a vital wildlife haven, including shelter and nesting sites for birds, ground free from trampling for delicate flora and invertebrates. This technique also encourages the shrubs and trees to regenerate and remain healthy thereby greatly increasing the lifespan of the hedge. By in-filling hedges with new plants the protected corridors can be extended and thickened benefiting wildlife, whilst also negating the need for other types of barriers to livestock or the public.

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Bat Boxes
Bat boxes have been installed to encourage and provide habitat for some species that have been spotted the courses. Long eared brown bats, Soprano’s and Pipistrelle bats were all noted during a recent survey last summer. With the clubs continued commitment to our environment and encouraging wildlife to our surroundings the boxes along with a constructed feeding station were placed in suitable locations and will be monitored for any bat activity.
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Electric Greens Mowers
Continuing with our commitment to lowering our carbon footprint and sustainable golf the green keeping team have been carrying out trials using the latest cylinder mowers powered by lithium batteries. The battery reduces noise and vibration while reducing fuel costs, which means a safer, greener and more comfortable mower experience. With advancements made over recent years in battery life performance these mowers can comfortably cut 9 greens and if needed the batteries can be quickly changed over. They are becoming more popular across the sports turf industry with The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club using them for this year’s Wimbledon tournament.
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Bird Boxes
During the winter month’s a couple of Green keepers with a keen interest in Birds and wildlife have been building a variety of bird boxes. These boxes will installed around the three courses providing more habitat for different species such as Tree Creepers, Tawny Owls, Robins and Starlings. The boxes have been built using recycled wood from pallets and decking from the area behind the 9th green of the Dukes course.
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Recycling of Litter
To minimise our waste and improve recycling methods we installed designated waste bins across the site and improved staff awareness with information on noticeboards. Each golf course has a Course attendant whose responsibilities include managing the litter disposed in bins across their course. All litter is sorted into plastics, paper, cans and general waste and then disposed into the designated bins. We continue to minimise the amount of waste we produce and many of our suppliers have reduced packaging that is assisting our disposed material. Recycling is an area we have reviewed over the past 12 months to improve our waste management practices across the golf club. Desk waste bins have been removed from offices in order for staff to recycle their waste by using purpose built recycling stations. There are 6 paper bins, 12 mixed recycling and 12 general waste bins located across the club. Course attendants empty the bins across the 3 courses daily and separate cans and plastics which are collected by our recycling waste company. We recycle all our cardboard by using a recently purchased a baler which crushes cardboard boxes and bales them ready for collection. All these practices help us reduce our carbon footprint.
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Hydro treated Vegetable Oil Trials
One of our projects to reduce our environmental impact this year has been the trial of Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil to replace the use of diesel to power the green keeping machinery fleet. The greenkeepers workshop have been using HVO in different pieces of machinery, monitoring the performance and effects it may have compared to diesel. HVO – Hydrated Vegetable Oil is derived from 100% renewable sources and can reduce carbon emissions by 90%. It has a ten year storage lifespan and is a sustainable fuel for cleaner air. It’s synthetically made through the hydro treatment process from vegetable oils or animal fats which allows it to significantly reduce harmful emissions when used in diesel vehicles and machinery. At first older machinery within the fleet was used to trial the new fuel and following great results and no problems newer machines have been added to the trial. It is hoped we can eventually move away from using any diesel within the fleet and begin to reduce our carbon footprint with HVO.
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Reducing our use of single use plastics
In a further step towards being environmentally friendly and reducing our carbon footprint, the Golf Club has recently introduced Woburn branded reusable mugs. The initiative has already been the subject of some very positive feedback with sales of the mugs already better than expected. Following their launch on 11th May, we are already looking to place a further order for the supply of some additional mugs.
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Reducing Carbon Emissions
An audit carried out by Tony Hanson of Environmental Solutions International of all the lighting around the clubhouse and maintenance sheds highlighted the potential saving in cost and KwH if lights were changed to alternative LED’s. A suspended lighting loop of 32 halogen spot lights located in the Pro-Shop was producing 21 tco2e and cost £3400 per year. The halogen spot lights were replaced with LED’s reducing the emissions by 16 tco2e per year and saving £2500. We plan to replace all lighting to LED within the next 18 months. We also have sensored lights in the locker rooms and toliets, which switch on and off automatically reducuing usage when they are not in use. 
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Ocean Tee 

Working with experts, Ocean Tee identify, pioneer and promote environmentally friendly fabrics, materials and processes that produce the highest performing golf gear. We now stock their premium bamboo tees which are strong, durable and biodegradable, making them an environmentally superior alternative to plastic and hardwood tees. The tees are also supplied in FSC certified, recyclable matchboxes.

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Coffee Ground Waste

Coffee grounds are collected and sent to be processed into Coffee Logs, which are a compact fire log made from recycled waste coffee grounds, perfect for burning in domestic wood burners and multi-fuel stoves.  Each log contains the grounds from around 20 cups of coffee, they burn 20% hotter than kiln-dried wood and generate 130% less emissions than if the grounds were sent to anaerobic digestion. 

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Super Bug Hotels

Built by one of our talented course attendants, Woburn now has two “Super Bug Hotels”. Made using materials collected from around the courses including decking boards, waste cardboard, tree guards and pinecones. The hotels are carefully positioned on the Marquess and Dukes Courses, facing south easterly to catch the morning sun and is in the shade for late afternoon, creating the most appealing environment for bugs. The purpose of the hotel is to offer a suitable shelter for wild bees and other pollinators attracting ladybirds, lacewings, earwigs and butterflies. See if you are able to spot it when you are next playing the courses!

Club Achievements

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Woburn Golf Club is delighted and immensely proud that our work to reduce carbon emissions and increase storage to create a net positive impact on the climate, was spotlighted as part of golf’s contribution to the recent COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. 

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GEO Certified for the 3rd time, with Environment and H&S Officer, Gavin Sowden recieving the award. 


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Sustainability Project of the Year Award - Finalists

We are very proud to be finalists at this years England Golf Awards 2023, held in Manchester on the 2nd March. 

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