Is this the greenest golf course in Britain?

Is this the greenest golf course in Britain?

The identity of Britain’s greenest golf course was revealed last week – and no, we are not talking colours or greens that resemble snooker tables, this is ecology, environment, wildlife and habitat stuff.

Thorpeness Hotel and Golf Club in Suffolk, England, has been named the overall winner of the 2012 Golf Environment Awards run by the STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute).

It’s no flash in the pan either, Thorpeness has a list of environmental awards as long as its 9th hole, but this one makes the James Braid designed heathland course officially the greenest golf club in Britain.

What’s so green about it?

When a golf club builds a hibernation pit for Britain’s only poisonous snake – the Adder – you know they care about nature. The adder Hybernacular is soon to be joined for hibernation areas for toads, newts and frogs in 2013.

Plus, Thorpeness has:

  • Built a huge recycling facility open to the local villagers
  • Conserved vast swathes of heather and gorse as habitats for rare birdlife
  • Chronicled more than 58 species of funghi
  • An on-course Ecologist, Ray Hardinge, who is also a member of the club

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.”

Award winning green keepers at Thorpeness Hotel and Golf Club
The Green Team – Ian Willett and his greens staff at Thorpeness

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.

In Focus - Thorpeness Golf Club, House in the Clouds
Thorpeness Golf Club and the famous House in the Clouds

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

The latest green innovation at the club is a water recycling system and a variety of nesting boxes for birds and bats, including Blue Tits, Owls and Hawks.

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 Green Keepers 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.

For more about the Golf Environment Awards:

For more about Thorpeness:


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