Walton Heath award International Golf Sustainable Distinction

Roddy Williamsin Golf

Walton Heath Golf Club, host venue of this week's AIG Women's Open, has achieved GEO Certified® status for sustainable golf, underlining its strong commitment and performance across key themes for sustainable golf course operations.

GEO Certification is overseen by GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf - the international non-profit organisation dedicated to delivering programmes that help people on the ground to evaluate, improve and credibly communicate their sustainability work. The international distinction confirms the facility satisfies all the certification criteria; meeting a credible standard in the areas of nature, resources, climate and community, and is committed to continual improvement.

Michael Mann, Course Manager at Walton Heath, said: "Becoming GEO certified really fits in with what we are trying to achieve at Walton Heath. Is is good for evaluating resource efficiencies, particularly with rising costs, and with the focus on nature and this being such an important conservation site it is important to manage the courses in the right way. Our rainfall capture systems and borehole extraction for example all fit with the GEO Certification and anything which helps you explore ways to improve is rightly a good thing. Demonstrating the positive impacts golf brings is so important to the club and wider community."

Carole Kerrey, Credibility Manager at GEO Certification Ltd, said: "Walton Heath is a shining example of positive action in sustainable golf. The accredited third-party verifier was very impressed by the practices in place and the commitment and enthusiasm to do more. The club's awareness of the importance of its site and progressive drive and determination to continually improve highlights what can be achieved towards building a more sustainable future."

Walton Heath's Sustainable Golf Highlights include:

  • A biodiversity audit of the Old Course at Walton Heath undertaken in 2022 highlighted 175 different species. This included 12 Species of Principal Importance, such as the small heath butterfly and brown long-eared bat (also a European Protected Species), and five birds of conservation concern: two red listed, and three amber listed.
  • 11 notable plant species were also recorded, including all three native heathers: common heather, bell heather and cross-leaved heather, all of which are Near Threatened in England.
  • The greenkeepers at Walton Heath painstakingly manage areas of nationally important lowland heathland and acid grassland across the golf courses to ensure that these habitats support a diverse range of wildlife.
  • Since 2000, Walton Heath have collaborated with various organisations, including Natural England, the Forestry Commission, The RSPB, Surrey Wildlife Trust and the Surrey Heathland Project to restore nine hectares of pure heath.
  • Areas of the practice range are left as buffer zones for pollinators. Heather nursery areas are encouraged alongside expanses of unmanaged but monitored rough.
  • Water supply and efficiency has been boosted with the construction of a reservoir to store water drawn from a borehole along with a rainfall capture system alongside the M25 bank which runs along the boundary of the site. As well as reducing potable water consumption, the reservoir was designed with a marginal shelf to create support habitat and biodiversity. A new irrigation system installed in 2022 further improves precision and efficiency.
  • Solar panels power the maintenance complex with all electric and hybrid equipment are charged using renewable energy. Surplus energy is sold back into the grid and all the club's energy needs are obtained from renewable sources.
  • The chef purchases much of the produce used from local sources - within a 10-mile radius.
  • The club manage a car park used for daily dog walking and other recreational activities, maintaining clean and safe access to the common for the community. The club and greenstaff also manage a recreation ground on site for football and other sports, Break Lane school fields for the school, the old pheasantry and the local pond within the village of Walton on the Hill.

This week's AIG Women's Open will also see a range of sustainability actions implemented through The R&A's Greenlinks programme including nature walks around Walton Heath in partnership with the RSPB. Such actions help continue to raise awareness of positive impacts highlighted at tournaments through the joint LPGA and LET Celebrating the Green presented by Dow initiative.

For further information: www.waltonheath.com

About GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf

GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf is an international not-for-profit dedicated to helping accelerate sustainability and climate action in and through golf. The organisation works collaboratively across the amateur and professional parts of golf to help the sport embrace and address key environmental and social issues, so that it can become widely acclaimed for its role in fostering nature, conserving resources, strengthening communities and taking climate action. GEO provides the OnCourse® programmes and solutions for sustainable golf facilities, new developments and tournaments, each of which can lead to the internationally accredited, endorsed and independently verified GEO Certified® label.