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March's "Champions of the Green" - Hill Side G&CC

March 2017’s Champions of the Green are Hill Side Golf and Country Club, Finland. The club has shown the benefits that accurate data monitoring can bring to a successful sustainability programme. 

Hill Side Golf and Country Club is a young club, which first opened in 2005, and now hosts two 18-hole courses. In July 2012, the club became GEO Certified® in recognition of its commitment to nature protection, resource efficiency and community value. Since then the club has retained that certification, and, during its standard re-certification assessment in 2016 the independent verifier described sustainable development as ‘part of everyday work’ at the club.

Robust monitoring had allowed the club to keep a track of the benefits, which they have seen from implementing sustainable operations. 

“We have found monitoring to be essential for us to see what what is working, what isn’t, and what benefits our sustainability initiatives have brought” said Tommi Turunen, Course Manager at Hill Side Golf & Country Club. “Gathering data also allows us to calculate the economic value of this work. In 2012, we calculated the cost savings of implementing more efficient processes to be €10,000. Knowing this has allowed us to gain cross organisation support for our sustainability programme.”

Examples of savings made across the course include reducing the managed areas of rough on the courses in 2012, leading to savings of approximately €3,500, and almost 400 hours of staff time, which could then be spent elsewhere on the course. This simultaneously increased the habitat and habitat corridors for wildlife across the site. The installation of a water-flow meter has enhanced irrigation monitoring and shown a reduction in water use, and, from 2013, use of a TDR300 soil moisture meter has enabled the club to reduce irrigation even more, with only 18,000 cubic meters of water used over the 36 holes in 2016. Monitoring electricity use and costs highlighted the reduction in cost with the adoption of a green tariff, which uses electricity produced from renewable sources. Also, use of MLSN (Minimum Level for Sustainable Nutrition) has seen the cost of fertilizer to the club cut in half while course quality remains high.

Turunen continued, “in addition to measuring success, monitoring has also allowed us to identify areas where we can make further improvements. Energy is one of our main focuses at the moment; we are in the process of changing to more energy efficient equipment, such as LED lights, and are looking into the possibility of installing solar panels.”

Clubs can get started on their own sustainability story and uncover, improve and promote their own social and environmental value by joining golf’s sustainability programme at