‘Europe’s first’ golf club to use no pesticides or fertilisers

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick September 29, 2011 09:35

A Cambridgeshire golf club, which sprays its course with natural sugars and carbohydrates instead of fertilisers and pesticides, has claimed it is the first in Europe in which the greenkeepers use no chemicals at all on its course.

New Malton Golf Club, which employs its own ecologist, has only used organic products for the last two years, resulting in a 90 per cent drop in maintenance costs and water consumption, and a 100 per cent reduction in toxic waste.

Paul Stevenson, director of the club explained: “We don’t use any chemicals at all; only natural products.

“We’ve turned the clock back 50 years but applied modern science to certain techniques.

“After two years of doing this we can guarantee that you do not need to use chemicals on golf courses.”

Stephen Fletcher, the club’s head greenkeeper, added: “I thought this was mad at first, but you only need to look at the greens now to know that there is no need to spray.”

The BBC has interviewed several members of, and visitors to, the club, to question their views on the quality of the course, and the results were unanimous.

“I’ve noticed this year that the greens here are better than at most other golf clubs I’ve played at,” said one. “The only difference I’ve felt is that I’m pleased that I know there’s nothing nasty on the ball when I pick it up,” said another.

The club’s ecologist has found that the natural approach, which includes moving away from low heights of cut, is also attracting wildlife to the course.

“Most greenkeepers do their best to eradicate plants,” said Jon Atkinson. “They cut the grass to within an inch of its life. But we’ve found that if you let nature take over, you get the benefits of wildlife coming to the course, which the members love.”

This sustainable approach is not one supported by all greenkeepers at other clubs, however.

Sean Jarvis, course manager at Astbury Hall Golf Club, said: “Sustainability is an extremely dangerous route to go down.   What are the consequences of seriously reducing nutrient inputs? Personally I think it’s weak, disease-prone turf. That requires a lot of chemical intervention!”

Ian Streeter, head greenkeeper at West Sussex Golf Club, added: ”A few years ago we went down the route of fewer inputs – with less nitrogen, less fertiliser, less water and less turf management input. Even though we had bent and fescue fairways that were supposed to survive anything, in reality we had cut too far and too fast. When weather conditions turned against us, with two cold winters and prolonged dry periods, the turf plants just didn’t have the reserves to cope with the stress and the level of play the course was expected to endure. We totally lost turf cover across large expanses of the fairway.”

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick September 29, 2011 09:35
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  1. @GolfSupers June 6, 17:05

    An interesting article from @GCM_mag about an English course’s approach to sustainability. What are your thoughts? http://t.co/7GZzqosNOF

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  2. @almenegon June 6, 08:35

    ‘Europe’s first’ golf club to use no pesticides or fertilisers – Golf Club Management
    http://t.co/D3kQyLQHkU #turfgrass #greenkeeping

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