Global Edition

GEO Certifies Machrihanish Dunes

9.54am 9th November 2010 - Course Development - This story was updated on Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Machrihanish Dunes, ‘the world’s most natural golf course’, has received Golf Environment Organization Certification for creating and maintaining a sustainable golf agenda, while fulfilling GEO’s required assessments for maintenance and management practices at the most comprehensive eco-levels.

GEO is the only international non-profit organization dedicated entirely to helping golf achieve its potential as a social, environmental, and economic asset. GEO’s certification programs are the most credible, comprehensive eco-labels available for existing golf facilities and new developments.  Machrihanish Dunes is the first  18-hole golf course in the U.K. to achieve GEO certification.

Since joining  OnCourseTM in 2009, the management team at Machrihanish Dunes has followed GEO’s step-by-step guidelines, and now meets GEO standards across the key areas of landscape & ecosystems, water & waste management, turf maintenance, energy conservation, education awareness and management planning. Machrihanish Dunes will be re-certified every three years to maintain GEO status.

“GEO is extremely proud that such a unique course is the first to achieve GEO Certification in the home of golf,” said Benjamin Warren, GEO Communications Director. “While it was commonplace for golf to be established in pristine coastal habitats during the early 1900’s, the industry now widely accepts that some sites are too sensitive for development.”

In the case of Machrihanish Dunes, careful planning, design and construction, in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage, have established an ecological legacy that will be continually improved through sensitive long-term management. GEO Certification ensures that golfers, the government and the general public can understand and appreciate the ways in which this fantastic golf course is contributing to environmental quality on the Kintyre peninsula.

Supported by a global network of partners, patrons, scientists, thought leaders and industry representatives, GEO works hand in hand with The European Tour, European Golf Association, WWF, UNEP, the Club Managers Associations of Europe, America, and China and The Royal & Ancient Golf Club. To date, GEO serves over 56 countries and has a total of 340 participating golf courses and organizations throughout its program.

Machrihanish Dunes is an example of what can be achieved when golf course developers work with nature, rather than against it.  The land that Machrihanish Dunes inhabits is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Machrihanish Dunes is the first course to be built upon SSSI land. This SSSI designation provides special protection to the land, which required construction of the course to take place with minimal disruption to the natural environment.  The site is home to five rare types of orchid, requiring the course to monitor the growth of the flowers, which have flourished with the active removal of trash and non-native pests that had begun to inhabit the space.  Course architect David McLay Kidd used the natural layout of the land to craft 18 links holes, altering just 7 of the course’s 275 acres in the process.

“At Machrihanish Dunes we took minimalism to the extreme; if Old Tom Morris himself saw how the course was created it would not have been a shock,” said Kidd, Golf Course Architect. “Machrihanish Dunes is an outstanding example of how it is possible for developers, architects, contractors and operators to work together with all facets of the environmental lobby both public and private in pursuit of a common goal and succeed.”

Today, maintenance of the course is also done in an environmentally collaborative manner: sheep are brought on in the off-season to help keep fescue grasses in check and no chemicals or irrigation systems are used on the fairways.  Machrihanish Dunes serves as a model for responsible stewardship of the land and offers visitors a wonderfully natural golf experience.

Andrew Campbell, Scottish Natural Heritage operations manager said: “It comes as no surprise to hear that Machrihanish Dunes has been awarded GEO certification, knowing how carefully and sensitively the green keeping staff look after the course – it’s great news. We hope that this will encourage other golf courses to adopt some of the environmentally sensitive techniques used here.”

Since its opening in July of 2009, international golf journalists who visited the new links course have labeled Machrihanish Dunes “the next great golf experience.” The course has since graced the covers of many golf publications. The creation of Scottish golf course architect David McLay Kidd, Machrihanish Dunes is the first course ever to have been built on a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Working hand-in-hand with Scottish National Heritage, Kidd and the course’s developers carefully created Machrihanish Dunes in a way that would have the least possible impact on the beautiful natural environment. Machrihanish Dunes was built without machinery and in a way that hearkens back to the way courses were created at the turn of the 20th Century, when Old Tom Morris was at work next door at Machrihanish Golf Club designing the famed links course there.

The Ugadale Cottages, the official accommodations of the Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club, are situated in the heart of Machrihanish and only moments away from Campbeltown on the Mull of Kintyre. Directly across from the first tee of the world-renowned Machrihanish Golf Club, the Ugadale Cottages offer world-class accommodations as well as world-class golf.  The Royal Hotel in Campbeltown and The Ugadale Hotel in Machrihanish are slated to open summer of 2011.

Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club

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