Market Harborough Golf Club

A Greener Operation

Market Harborough Golf Club began to work seriously on environmental matters after the issue was raised at the club’s AGM in November 2018. 

A Steering Group was formed and by the end of February 2019 the club’s policy – A GREENER OPERATION – had been adopted, based on a framework available from England Golf. The policy was officially launched in April 2019. On the same occasion, an appeal was launched to members for donations, because the initiative takes no money from the club’s income or budget. A new noticeboard dedicated to environmental matters was opened, and a bird-feeding station established.

You can read the club’s policy by going to the ‘Further Information’tab

Policies are of no use without a plan to implement them. The club’s Action Plan was drawn up, was revised and updated in December 2019, and is available for members and visitors to see on the ‘Further Information’tab.

A number of initiatives got underway:

  • - an ecological survey of the course was produced in February 2019. 
  • - our first bird survey was undertaken on April 2019 
  • - recycling bins were designed and installed fir use in June 2019
  • - with sponsorship from England Golf, the club began to work with GEO (the Golf Environment Organisation) on an online programme for monitoring and evaluating environmental matters

We began to work in partnership with a number of other agencies. In July 2019 the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trustconducted a survey of plants and ponds. Their report, received in February 2020, has provided the club with a detailed, authoritative blueprint for our management of our course in the future. The report makes clear that, by following the recommended practices set out, we can make a huge difference for wildlife and biodiversity on the land for which we are the custodians. The key message to members was, and is, that this can be done without in any way adversely affecting the quality of the golf course itself, of which we are so proud. In fact, by enhancing opportunities for nature, we hope to improve the whole experience for our members and visitors.

We also began to work closely with the Hawk and Owl Trust– a national charity. After a survey visit, the trust has installed five nesting boxes around the course – two for kestrels, and three for barn owls.

During 2019 a number of links were developed with other golf clubs. Visits have taken place to other clubs, and by visitors from other clubs to MHGC. We are now setting ourselves the goal of setting up and facilitating an environmental forumfor golf clubs in Leicestershire and Rutland. The first meeting of this forum was due to take place in March 2020 and was postponed due to the pandemic. We are committed to re-organising it, in partnership with Longcliff GC, when circumstances permit.

Why is the club adopting this policy now?

To provide a more beautiful and more enjoyable environment for our members and for our staff. As environmental awareness grows, legislation on such matters becomes more significant. It is important to protect the club by having robust measures and policies in place that  minimise risk of non-compliance and litigation
Market Harborough is growing rapidly. As development accelerates it becomes more important to have regard to the long term effect of what might eventually happen on our neighbouring land.
We are all familiar with issues surrounding the future of golf as a sport. In adopting this policy, the club aims to enhance its offer to potential members and thus help to protect its future viability.

What exactly does the policy hope to do? What does it mean?

Market Harborough Golf Club commits itself to:

  • Providing a safe and pleasant working environment for all our staff
  • Enhancing the natural environment of the golf course for the benefit of both golfers and wildlife
  • Conserving energy and water
  • Reducing waste  
  • Preventing pollution from all our activities
  • Promoting wider environmental change by careful choice of products and services
  • Working towards a ‘greener operation’ in collaboration with neighbours and partners 
  • Creating a positive ethos about ‘green’ issues that will positively influence all adults, young people and visitors who come into contact with the club.

The ecology of the golf course

Our environment policy covers a number of areas of activity, including the commitment to wildlife and nature. Barely a week passes when we do not hear of growing concerns about aspects of biodiversity. Our golf course has the potential to be of significant value in protecting and enhancing wildlife, at the same time recognising that its primary function is as a golf course.

Early in the process, we have been able to have an ecological appraisal conducted on the current state of the course, and of its potential. The full report can be readby going to the ‘Further Information’ tab. The report concludes with further links to a range of associated articles.

How does this policy affect members?

We hope that members will, over the coming months and years, notice changes in the way the golf club operates. We intend to keep members informed through regular updates about what has been achieved and what we are planning next. (See Latest News tab). 

As far as the course itself is concerned, the policy will not affect the commitment of our green staff to providing the best golf course they can. We will be looking at, for instance, the use of chemicals on the course and ensuring that we are compliant and forward-looking. Our greens staff are already very aware of guidance on these issues coming from BIGGA (the British and International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association).

Around the edges of the course, members will begin to notice developments. The course already benefits from having areas which are of huge value for biodiversity, notably the string of ponds down from the top of the 16thhole to the clubhouse, and the three deep gullies and scrub areas that converge at the bottom of the course. Although the natural human instinct is sometimes to get nature looking ‘tidy’, we hope members will understand that it is untidiness which allows biodiversity to flourish. As our ecological specialist told us, our course is already a kind of island of diversity in what is a sea of urban development and sterile agricultural land (sterile from the point of view of wildlife, that is). 

What can members do to support this policy?

The club asks for the support of members in a number of ways. By:

  • Understanding that promoting biodiversity means tolerating what might seem ‘untidiness’ in the key areas away from the greens and fairways
  • Taking an interest  by writing in the Wildlife Sightings record book in the entry lobby when you have seen any wildlife of note
  • Support the project, if you can, by sponsoring a bird or bat box, or contributing, when we ask for help, perhaps in working parties etc.
  • Being aware of the project’s need for financial help and help us secure it, if you can.

The implementation of the policy, ‘A Greener Operation’ is being led by a Steering Group consisting of Bob Roberts, Jim Jacobs and Steve Winder. Contact details are available under the ‘Further Information’.

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