Top 100 course hits the sustainable heights

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Hertfordshire's historic Top 100 course Berkhamsted GC has been recognised as one of the UK’s most sustainable and environmentally-responsible golf clubs by achieving GEO (Golf Environment Organisation) Certified status.

The renowned bunker-free heathland venue – which lives by its mantra ‘golf as nature intended’ – is one of only 39 in England to be successfully evaluated for the way it fosters nature, conserves resources and supports the community.

The programme is assured by the GEO Foundation, the international not-for-profit entirely dedicated to advancing sustainability in golf.

In addition, the club’s pioneering manager, Howard Craft (pictured), has become one of the first club and course managers in England to be named a Sustainability Champion by GEO. This is an accolade given to leaders in the sport who maintain a strong public commitment to sustainable golf.

Craft also now sits on golf’s GB & Ireland Sustainability Working Group, which brings together many of golf’s key organisations plus others such as the RSPB to advise all golf clubs on how to become more environmentally-friendly.

Berkhamsted is laid out on commonland in Hertfordshire’s largest expanse of natural gorse and heather.

The GEO's Tony Hanson, who assessed Berkhamsted, said: “The club has undertaken some fantastic work to reduce their environmental impact and enhance the natural landscape. I look forward to seeing their progress over the next three years.”

Examples of actions which Berkhamsted has taken to conserve resources include encouraging staff to cycle to work, creating ‘wildlife corridors’ for butterflies and insects on the course, and undertaking a major heather restoration project.

And if you smell delicious, freshly-baked bread at Berkhamsted, it’s all part of the environmental plan.

Howard Craft said: “Right down to baking our own pies, pastries and bread – which cuts down on the ‘food miles’ which we create – we have tried to reduce the club’s environmental footprint in every area, including the kitchen!

Berkhamsted’s longserving Course Manager Gerald Bruce, who has managed the club’s golf course and 350-acre estate for over 30 years, said: “We've always been one of England’s most natural golf courses. Despite that we’re constantly working to reduce our environmental impact still further, and to enhance the beautiful natural landscape up here on the common.”

But there’s much more still to be done. Added Craft. “We’re looking into food waste composting, which our flower beds will love. We’re investigating biomass boilers as, with approximately 40,000 trees here on the estate, we have a lot of wood waste. And we hope to encourage animal grazing up here on the common, which is how the land was used in days gone by."

*Look out for the 400th 'green' issue of Today's Golfer, out on May 7th, and featuring the UK - and the world's - most environmentally-friendy and sustainable golf courses...