Sustainable Golf courses and practices are on the rise and in high demand - which is great, yet it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. We have selected 5 of Australia’s best golf courses that have implemented unique and inspiring ways to support the environment around them, and are thriving since implementing sustainable practices on their course. We’ve curated this list of clubs to inspire you and think outside the box when it comes to sustainable practices at your club.
1. The Royal Sydney Golf Club
The Royal Sydney Golf Club, founded in 1897 and located at Rose Bay in Sydney's eastern Suburbs is implementing some wonderful ecologically sustainable practices at their world-famous course.
With plans to create a self-sustainable ecosystem, they have been planting out large areas of the course with native heathland plants that once covered Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. Creating a sanctuary for the native fauna in the area, these native plant species play an important role in ecological connectivity and will reduce the amount of water and fertilizer that needs to be used across the course. This new diversity of flora will provide habitat and food sources for a wider range of native birds, lizards, butterflies and frogs.
They have a unique, insect support system in place, as they’ve recognised the important role insects play in sustaining our ecosystems and pollinating the plants. The RSGC have started to place “Insect hotels’ in protected areas of the golf course to encourage the native bees and other native insects to take shelter and have a safe place to lay their eggs.
They plan to have a new irrigation system installed including a new storage dam, pumps and pump shed. This will result in a more efficient, precise delivery of the water across the course. Being able to control their water distribution will help reduce water waste too.
2. Wollongong Golf Club
The Wollongong Golf Club, founded in 1897, is located on the South Coast of New South Wales (NSW), about an hour south of Sydney. With a large green space, overlooking the stunning beaches nearby, they take their land management responsibilities very seriously.
Implementing a recycled water management program that began in 2009 ensures no town water is used in the process of course irrigation. 70% of their water comes from recycled sources and 30% from collected stormwater. They regularly monitor and conduct testing to ensure the water maintains an acceptable quality and is used in the most effective way possible.
The course vegetation absorbs over 16 tonnes of carbon each year, with the course being home to over 50 species of native and migratory birds. They have a course vegetation management plan that strategizes enriching and protecting the natural habitat of the plants and animals that are native to the area. They also have active recycling programs within the clubhouse for paper, cardboard, plastic and glass. The kitchen team recycles its cooking oil, with all oil from the deep fryer supporting a bio-diesel recycling initiative.
3. Royal Adelaide Golf Club
The Royal Adelaide Golf Club is located in Adelaide, South Australia, with The Barossa Valley - a famous wine region, on its doorstep. Founded in 1892, this course is in the top 10 of Australia’s Best Golf Courses, offering exclusive winery tours of the legendary Barossa Valley.
The club prioritises ensuring the native Flora and Fauna are protected. With all plants now planted on the golf course being propagated from indigenous plants currently found on the course.
With South Australia being known as the driest state in Australia, finding a large source of irrigation water proved difficult for the club. They partnered up with the South Australian and Australian Governments to develop a wetland to harvest stormwater runoff from the surrounding suburbs. The stormwater is then cleaned by the reedbeds in the wetland sufficiently to be injected back into and stored in the underground aquifers.
This wetland scheme and project has brought significant benefits to the community, and of course to the golf club. The wetland schemes significantly reduce the flow of stormwater into the ocean as well. A win-win for everyone involved.
4. Manly Golf Club
The Manly Golf Club was founded in 1903 and is one of Sydney's original foundation clubs, rich in golf history and located a few blocks from Manlys iconic coastline. In 2022, Manly Golf Club partnered with epar and Audubon International - both focused on providing environmental business solutions. They provide conservation initiatives and sustainability action strategies for various businesses to implement environmentally sustainable management practices.
One of the main ways Manly has implemented this is through creating and protecting the diverse, native vegetation communities. They have planted local, native species to that of the Sydney Basin region, specifically around the 8th tees and 7th green. Planting species from the threatened Swamp Oak Floodplain Forest (SOFF) to provide forage for endangered Australian wildlife such as the Osprey, Glossy Black Cockatoo, Gang Gang Cockatoo and Grey Headed Flying Fox.
5. The Headland Golf Club
The Headland Golf Club was established in the late 1920s, located in the valley of Buderim, QLD. In 2019, they set out to recycle all plastic, glass bottles and aluminium cans at the club. A club member designed and constructed dual wastebins, incorporating recycled “mod wood” slats which have been placed at every second tee for rubbish disposal. They have one side designated for bottles, plastics and cans and the other bin is for normal waste. Within the first 12 months, 40,317 containers were recycled with over $2,000 being donated to our junior golfers. This is both reducing the impact on landfill and helping their junior golfers out at the same time.
There are so many avenues and options for a course to take in becoming more sustainable. If you’re not sure where to begin, consider partnering with an environmental organisation similar to epar or Audubon International to assist you in figuring out which sustainable practices would be the most beneficial to implement at your course, and create a plan together.
How Can You Make Your Club Sustainable?
A small change that is an effective step towards being a more sustainable golf club is stocking sustainable golfing tees and accessories in the clubhouse for use on your golf course. The Bigger Ball has 8 different-sized sustainable golf tees for all your needs. We also create bamboo fibre golf towels, with a carabiner clip for ease of taking around with you and organic cotton accessories bags - perfect for your spare golf tees on the course. Banning plastic tees and making the alternate option available for purchase or rent at your golf club is a great option to encourage sustainable practices at your club and is one that is easily overlooked. We also offer water refill stations and reusable bottles to cover all your course needs.