Friday, 18th April, 2014

Revealed: Britain’s greenest golf course

Story published at 1:37, Thursday, November 8th, 2012


L to R: Dr Ray Hardinge, Thorpeness member and volunteer Ecologist, Peter Howard, Peter Willett, Nick Staff, Chris Guy, Mark Barber, Andrew Hall, course manager Ian Willett.

A golf club in Suffolk can claim to be the greenest in Britain after it landed a national prize at a prestigious environmental awards ceremony.

Thorpeness Hotel and Golf Club sits on a low lying plain of the Suffolk Heritage Coast and is a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Thorpeness has one of the driest micro climates and lowest rainfall rates in the UK.

Last week, it was named winner of the “Overall Environmental Achievement Award” at the STRI Golf Environment Awards 2012, organised by STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute), a leading industry expert in the preparation and maintenance of sports pitches.

Thorpeness Golf Club 18th hole bordered by Suffolk’s famous House in the Clouds

Ian Willett, course manager at Thorpeness, said: “This award is beyond all our expectations. We are privileged to work in an area of outstanding natural beauty and to help conserve a rich habitat for a variety of flora, fauna, bird and wildlife, from orchids to adders, bats, Woodlarks and Nightjars.

“Contrary to popular belief golf courses do little damage to wildlife. In fact, they are an oasis for wildlife within urban and built up areas. We take our environmental responsibilities extremely seriously and work hard to ensure our golf course remains a haven for wildlife.”

The accolade follows a string of other green awards for Thorpeness.

In 2011, it won the regional environmental achievement award for southern England at the STRI Golf Environment Awards after rejuvenating heather and gorse habitats and establishing a large scale recycling facility for residents of Thorpeness Village.

Only a week before hearing of its win at the 2012 Golf Environment Awards, Ian Willett picked up a Gold Award from the Suffolk Carbon Charter; an innovative local scheme designed to recognise carbon reductions in SME’s with fewer than 250 staff.

The charter is part of a drive to make Suffolk England’s greenest county and enables local businesses to become environmental champions. Thorpeness is the first hotel and golf club to achieve Gold Award status and received its award at the end of October.

Ian Willett and his team work closely with the Suffolk Sandlings Project, Suffolk Wildlife Trust and English Nature to ensure the club works in harmony with rather than against the local environment.

Most recently, Thorpeness installed a hybernacular (purpose built habitat for hibernation and nesting) for adders, a water recycling system and a variety of nesting boxes for birds and bats, including Blue Tits, Owls and Hawks. There are plans to create hybernaculars for toads, newts and frogs in 2013.

English Ryder Cup Player Justin Rose is ambassador for the Golf Environment Awards 2012. Rose said: “It’s great that these Awards are helping to promote and highlight the work that many golf clubs are performing to improve the environment and support a positive future for golf within the UK.

“We need to do more to highlight how golf clubs can introduce their own environmental projects and shout out about the achievement and success of current schemes.”

In 2003 and 2004, Thorpeness Hotel and Golf Club were overall winners in the Golf Environment Awards, then run by BIGGA (British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association), and in 2005 captured the Suffolk Business Award for the Environment.

Thorpeness is the first golf club and hotel to win the award twice with the same course manager.

“We are proud of our track record in environmental excellence and aspire to be a model for how to run a sustainable, environmentally friendly golf club. Golf courses, especially Thorpeness, are beautiful places and it’s important that we keep them that way,” added Willett.

Golf Environment Awards www.golfenvironmentawards.com

Thorpeness: www.thorpeness.co.uk

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