Champion of the Green – June 2015

Open venue, Royal Birkdale, and its team are recognised as this months Champions of the Green for the work they do to protect and enhance the nature and wildlife of the club. With increasing consideration given to environmental and sustainability issues during decision-making both on and off the course, it is clear to see that sustainability is well embedded in the ethos of the club. This is evidenced by the fact that the club was recently awarded with golf’s international eco-label, GEO Certified®.

The course sits adjacent to a SSSI, a Special Area of Conservation and a Local Nature Reserve. Its situation clearly shows the important role that the course can have in providing habitat and safe channels for wildlife. Approximately 80% of the site is given over to wildlife habitat and is home to a variety of rare plant and animal species. The course has also hosted a breeding pair of Barn Owls for the last two years, who have made their home in a purposely installed on-site nest box, along with breeding colonies of Natterjack Toads which live within 1500meters of the natural drainage ditches around the course.

Course manager, Chris Whittle (pictured) explained, “Staff, members and the local community are immensely proud of the rare habitats and wildlife both within and surrounding the club. The management of the course is dedicated to the stewardship of these areas. We work in partnership with many groups, including the local council, STRI and Natural England to ensure suitable heritage conservation and ecosystem monitoring and protection. Although we have been doing a lot of great work for a number of years, it’s through the OnCourse® programme that we’ve been able to tell this story more publicly and to show some of the great things that the sport of golf can bring to the environment and communities. Our commitment to sustainability is reflected throughout our team and even saw one of our greenkeeping staff, John Kelly, recognised by STRI as conservation greenkeeper of the year“.

Habitats on course are increased and maintained by regular scrub management and large areas of managed rough surrounds each hole. Management techniques, such as annual autumn mowing of wet slacks are conducted to promote the establishment of rare plants, including March Orchids. Ponds are excavated and maintained to provide habitats and to promote diversity and nesting boxes, and log piles are provided for the barn owls as well as pollinator insects and mammals. With a management team expressing a genuine commitment to progress on more sustainable golf, future intentions to invest in solar energy, green communication and marketing it is safe to say that Royal Birkdale will continue to bring about positive impacts on both the local community and natural environment.

More details about the environmental management and further sustainability measures which are carried out at Royal Birkdale Golf Club visit:

To find out more about what OnCourse® and GEO Certified® can do for you click here: