Berkhamsted Golf Club has been recognised as one of the UK's most sustainable and environmentally-responsible golf clubs by achieving GEO Certified® status.
Image: Andy Hiseman
The famously bunker-free club - 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, 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 Golf Club, which is laid out on common land in Hertfordshire's largest expanse of natural gorse and heather, is rated as one of England's top 100 golf courses.
GEO-accredited Independent Verifier 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."
GEO Certified® status applies as much to the clubhouse and the way the golf club runs itself, as it does to the golf course.
Examples of actions which Berkhamsted Golf Club has taken to conserve resources include encouraging staff to cycle to work, creating 'wildlife corridors' for butterflies and insects on the golf 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 golf club's environmental footprint in every area, including the kitchen!
"Improving sustainability is a mindset really: it challenges the brain. Seeing people throughout the club get into it has been very rewarding. Berkhamsted Common is criss-crossed with public rights of way across the golf course, and as we manage the land we feel responsible for setting a great example.
"So both on a personal level, with the Champion award, and at club level with the GEO Certification, I am thrilled that Berkhamsted Golf Club has been recognised like this. Our mindset will not change, and we will always look for ways to be better."
Berkhamsted Golf Club's long-standing Course Manager Gerald Bruce, who has managed the club's golf course and 350-acre estate for over 30 years, said: "At Berkhamsted the slogan 'golf as nature intended' genuinely applies to everything that we do here. With no man-made hazards such as bunkers or artificial lakes, Berkhamsted has 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."
John Kemp, GEO Club Engagement Manager for the UK, said: "We are delighted to support and recognise the work carried out by the team at Berkhamsted. Their approach demonstrates that sustainability is now integral to good, efficient operations; creativity in creating a high quality product and experience; and staff, golfer and local community pride in the club."
And there's much more still to be done, says Craft. "It doesn't end here, not by a long way" he said. "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.
"As stewards of this fabulous natural piece of land, we're putting together a habitat management plan for Berkhamsted Common to cover the next ten years."
See www.berkhamstedgolfclub.co.uk for all club information.