Fairways of the future: Colmworth’s environmental excellence

By Alistair June 29, 2024 08:29

After Colmworth Golf Club in Bedfordshire saw excellent results using organic products on its pitch & putt course, the all-female management team adopted the same programme for its main course – and has had firm, receptive and disease-resistant surfaces ever since.

Colmworth is a golf club with a difference. Nestled in the tranquil countryside of north Bedfordshire, this inclusive and forward-thinking country estate stands as a beacon of sustainable excellence thanks to its forward-thinking approach.

Under the stewardship of mother-daughter duo Julie and Tilly Vesely, this family-run golf course, retreat and wedding venue has embraced and nurtured an organic approach to golf course maintenance with an unwavering commitment to environmental responsibility. Colmworth is a haven for the eco-conscious golfer.

Sporting an all-female management team, a rarity in this industry, they pride themselves on redefining the norm with an ethical and environmentally sensitive ethos to everything they look to offer at Colmworth.

Bradley Jones, head greenkeeper

Designed by John Glasgow in 1994 the 18-hole, par 72 course boasts a peaceful, rural setting with a mix of raised tees with stunning views and some challenging water hazards on four holes, including the signature 12th hole.

Proudly inclusive and forward-thinking, Tilly explains, “Colmworth is the people and planet friendly place to enjoy relaxed golf, great food, celebrate or holiday. Our focus is to be environmentally friendly; it is an ethos that has run through the business from the very beginning. We do things differently here, we want to be known for being a friendly, affordable and inclusive venue, as well as a destination and club that focuses on sustainability.”

Tilly and Julie Vesely, who run the club

A key part of this strategy is the clubs’ organic approach to managing the golf course, choosing non-chemical options at every opportunity by utilising Symbio products (now an integral part of Origin Amenity Solutions) for over a decade. Initially trialled on the par three 644-yard-long pitch & putt course, the improvements spoke for themselves with the “brilliant results”. This led to a fully organic programme being developed for the main 18-hole course and has provided firm, receptive and disease-resistant surfaces ever since.

Bradley Jones, head greenkeeper, runs a small but effective team delivering the organic strategy working closely with Julie and Tilly. He adds, “Our golf course is carefully nurtured by organic products. It is best known for playing exceptionally well throughout the winter and following extreme weather conditions. Despite the British weather, we’ve never had to use winter greens and we are proud of our excellent drainage which enables our course to remain open year-round. We are passionate about protecting our planet and utilise organic products on the course. For over 10 years we have used Symbio products and brewed their microbial ‘Compost Teas’ to feed and maintain the turf and this has also made our greens very strong and resistant to disease.”

Colmworth Golf Club has a programme from OAS compiled in consultation with Brad to promote soil biology and enhance microbial products. It includes a granular microbial thatch degrading product, Symbio Thatcheater. Supporting this are microbial Compost Teas, fungal and bacterial additives, Liquid Aeration and microbial-enhancing bio-stimulants.

In addition to the club’s ‘green greens’ programme, Colmworth’s approach to water management has been said to be ahead of its time. The basis of the drainage system is to gather rainfall collected over the course, and direct it through drainage into holding lakes to then be used as the water source for the irrigation system. Tilly adds, “We have excellent drainage which all feeds into the lake on the 12th hole. This then acts as a reservoir for the summer months to keep the greens watered, playable, and healthy.”

Its innovative practices such as organic turf management, water conservation and community engagement have secured the club two prestigious accolades. Colmworth Golf Club won the England Golf Sustainability Project of the Year 2024 in the governing body’s centenary year.

They also emerged as winners at The Golf Environment Awards, held at BTME 2024, being crowned the UK Environment Golf Club of the Year. These awards are for golf clubs in the UK that are leading the way in sustainability across nature conservation, turfgrass management, and waste and water management.

Tilly adds, “Colmworth Golf Club not only exemplifies sporting prowess but also serves as a testament to the power of conscientious stewardship in preserving our planet’s natural beauty. We are passionate about protecting our planet and the awards show that you don’t have to be a huge golf course with a big budget to make the right decisions for the environment. From installing solar and utilising renewable energy to implementing organic turf care, recycling and repurposing wherever possible, and supporting local – there is so much we can do, and there is so much more we want to do! I would like to collaborate with like-minded businesses to host corporate days where they can invite their customers to a venue and play on a golf course that showcases that sustainability and the environment matter.”

Colmworth Golf Club focuses on revolutionising the golfing experience with its sustainable ethos. Through organic turf care and water conservation, they’ve garnered acclaim and their approach not only enhances the game but underscores the vital role golf courses can play in environmental preservation.


By Alistair June 29, 2024 08:29

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