Amanda Dorans, Greenkeeper at Dundonald Links GC, looks at a successful year for golf’s environmental impact.
2015 was yet another great year for golf’s legacy to our natural environment. Evidence and enthusiasm for nature and conservation on our golf courses was the theme of the evening at the recent Golf Environment Awards dinner during BTME week in Harrogate.
I was truly honoured to have the opportunity to converse with people from some of the UK’s finest examples of progressive golf clubs who were collectively able to demonstrate an integrated commitment to sustainable management and, in particular, to nature, as part of their normal management approach. As I tucked into my meal, I listened to the impassioned conversations and I have to admit that I was in awe at the extent of the work being undertaken by the individuals around me.
I’ve used the term individuals in my last paragraph, which got me thinking… all of those people who attended Hotel Du Vin that evening weren’t operating as individuals, they were in fact part of a bigger team, and on entering the Golf Environment Awards, they had become part of a community, one might say a movement – and I can testify to that! It was only a few years ago that our Club had the privilege to be counted as one of the names on that roll of honour, and we’ve never looked back. Since entering the Awards, our network of friends has grown, ideas have been shared and questions have been answered.
As I write this, I can’t help but remember how excited we were on receiving the news that our Club was a finalist for “Environmental Golf Course of the Year” 2014. In fact, as I recall, reserved behaviours were thrown out the window as I crashed into Guy’s (Director of Golf) office and screeched the news – who I have to say was just as happy! We are a small team, and the news spread quickly. The next few days were pretty joyous. Lots of lovely emails, tweets and Facebook messages arrived and everyone was in good spirits. So much so, that becoming a finalist for us as good as winning!
When people refer to the awards as being a “platform” – this isn’t PR speak, this is most certainly true. My description above nowhere near does justice to the atmosphere at Dundonald that year. We are a close knit team and everyone gets involved with sustainable management to some degree and every member of the team past and present deserved recognition for their efforts. Best practice is woven into the very fabric of the Club and it forms the core part of decision making and planning, whether the subject is tournament or day to day operations.
It would be remiss of me not to mention that the award itself was and still is to us a powerful business tool. Our environmental work has generated more interest from tour operators and members than any other aspect of the business. Being named “Environmental Golf of the Year” gave credibility to our work and it helped us channel our communications.
To return to the original topic – The 2016 Golf Environment Awards, and specifically, the Awards dinner – the atmosphere was electric! The night started off with reception drinks in the snug, and with such beautiful surroundings and terrific company, the precedent for the evening was set.
We took our seats in the dining room and every detail had been thought of, including the seating plan (I must remember to thank Helen Waite), as I had to the pleasure to be sat at table made up of great characters , their witty conversation added to the experience, if that was at all possible.
Bob Taylor addressed the room with a passion for nature which would be extremely difficult to rival, and those words have left their impression, and not only with me, but with every person in that room. He spoke in a manner that was without a doubt motivational and in a way that I’m finding difficult to describe. It was perhaps more powerful because they were heartfelt and just listening to him made me realise that this man has given blood, sweat and tears in the name of our wildlife – something which we can at times take for granted. It was clearly evident this is more than “just a job” for Bob, but a life’s work!
And then it struck me The Golf Environment Awards are a legacy. Golf and nature are natural partners – they depend on one another. The Awards are not just about the winning clubs getting to place a trophy in their reception, they are about how we as an industry are perceived externally, they help us build relationships and open doors to new opportunities, they promote best practices that allow us to become more efficient and commercially viable and how we can respectively and collectively play our part in safeguarding our natural environment for the next generation.
Congratulations to all of the winners – Carnoustie (Operation Pollinator Award), Pyecombe (Environmental Golf Course of the Year), Anthony Darker (Conservation Greenkeeper) and Richmond (Project of the Year) and to all of the Clubs that are operating more sustainably. We are all gaining through these practices and learning from each other, and it ensures that we have green space to enjoy with our families, which is alive with wildlife.
I hope I have captured some of the magic from that evening. I, like the others in attendance will have our memories for what is an undisputed highlight for greenkeepers and club managers during BTME week.
Ladies and Gentleman of the Golf Industry, let’s raise a glass to Bob Taylor, Sophie Vukelic and all of the Sponsors who on annual basis contribute their time, knowledge and efforts to The Golf Environment Awards – Golf’s legacy.
Amanda Dorans is a Greenkeeper at Dundonald Links GC.