Following an on-site evaluation which took place in September, Lahinch has joined an extremely exclusive club by becoming only the sixth golf club in the Republic of Ireland to be awarded a GEO Certified® – the most coveted of sustainability awards.
Based on credible and transparently developed modern standards of best practice, the Golf Environment Organisation (GEO) is recognised worldwide for its laudable aims to foster nature, conserve resources and support the golf community.
The Independent Verifier stated: Lahinch Golf Club is an outstanding facility that is clearly being managed superbly from a sustainability and ecological point of view and is committed to maximising its grounds as an environment for all including flora and fauna.
The landscape boasts some of the most stunning natural tall dunes, wildflower rich coastal grasslands that support rarities such as the bee orchid and red bartsia. Part of the club lies adjacent to the Inagh River estuary which helps to conserve important Atlantic and Mediterranean salt marsh vegetation.
Certification is due to the work of a dedicated team made up of both staff and club members who made many practical and valuable economic, social and environmental changes across all areas of the club including:
- Minimising use of pesticides and fungicides to promote and protect key species such as ground nesting birds and invertebrates which are in good numbers during the main flowering periods.
- Reducing the use of NPK fertilisers by promoting more natural products including seaweed and compost.
- Increasing awareness of the importance to promote and protect natural habitats and wildflowers including the high populations of bee orchid on the Old Course and Devils bit scabious on the Castle Course.
- Encouraging and promoting appropriate turfgrasses acclimated to site and links golf play.
- Using modern drought tolerant grass species cultivars to manage and conserve water.
- Introducing practical measures to ensure pollution risks are minimised – from clubhouse to machinery facility and course maintenance.
- Full compliance in the storage, handling, application and safe disposal of all hazardous substances.
- Water conservation including the installation of sensor activated taps and low flush toilets.
- High efficiency LED lighting throughout the clubhouse (sensor activated), the materials storage and workshop areas of the maintenance facilities.
- 85% of all food purchased is sourced from within Co. Clare.
- Monitoring of waste generated at the Club.
Still to do, but imminent: install water stations around the Club and on both golf courses to eliminate the use of single plastic bottles. Install electric car charging points.
The other five clubs to have received a GEO, Ashford Castle, Grange, Killiney, Portmarnock, and The Island Golf Clubs, as well as Lahinch, are all taking leadership roles in advancing sustainability within the golf industry by making extremely important contributions to protect nature, conserve resources and strengthen communities. Nevertheless, GEO Certified® is only a first step in the long-term goal to radically reduce golf’s carbon footprint. It’s remarkable that two of the six clibs, Killiney and Ashford Castle, are 9-holes golf courses that would not be expected to have the resources to embark on such a radical undertaking.
It’s not all philanthropy. There are practical advantages. Adopting a more sustainable approach to how golf clubs carry out their activities enhances benefits for members and nature; protects greenspace and conserves biodiversity in a healthy recreational environment; local supply chains; jobs, tourism and other forms of economic value.