Hoebridge Golf Centre, in Woking, has become the first public pay-and-play facility in the UK to achieve the prestigious international sustainability award, GEO Certified™.
Hoebridge – part of BGL Golf, the UK’s leading golf course owner and operator – joins an elite group of leaders to be among the first 100 golf facilities in the world to have earned golf’s internationally recognised distinction awarded by the Golf Environment Organization (GEO).
GEO Certified™ recognises golf businesses which demonstrate an operational commitment to the three core principles of sustainability – planet, people and profit. The ecolabel has recently been recognised as an Associate Member of ISEAL, the global leader in defining credibility in sustainability standards.
Jonathan Smith, GEO chief executive, said: “This is an outstanding example of how the people running a golf facility can maximise their joint environmental and community efforts as a way to strengthen business.
“We applaud BGL Golf’s leadership and commitment – and in particular the way its corporate ethos and group wide policies have turned into practical action, as demonstrated at Hoebridge.”
Awarded for its commitment to sustainable operating procedures, which serve to better both the environment and the local community, Hoebridge’s first step was to outline how it comprehensively fulfils certification criteria in six action areas: Nature, Water, Energy, Supply Chain, Pollution Prevention and Community.
Hoebridge’s GEO Certified™ report is now available online, and details a variety of activities to optimise its environmental contribution and relationship with the greater Woking community. Notable achievements include:
- A thriving junior academy has grown with initiatives for free golf tuition for local school children, summer holiday beginners classes and hosting the Surrey Futures Girls squad
- Preferential rates given to local offices and businesses on the Hoebridge estate
- Major investment into the irrigation reservoir and refurbishment of clubhouse to improve environmental performance.
- Member of the Surrey Chamber of Commerce, weekly host of the Woking Rotary Club as well as regular networking events for local businesses
- The 1st Horsell Scout Group built and installed 10 of the site’s bird boxes
- Ecologically informed development of rough and gorse in out of play areas, with cultural/natural management rather than chemical to encourage biodiversity.
Colin Mayes, BGL chief executive, explained why community engagement is an area of focus for BGL Golf: “Environmental issues are important to any business that wishes to trade in 100 years time. However, engaging with your local community is also crucial for sustained business success and across each of the BGL Golf sites there is a focus on this.”
Recognising the significant value in the business outcomes from achieving GEO Certified™ status, BGL Golf directed Manager in Training Howard Craft as a dedicated resource for Hoebridge’s campaign to earn the certification.
Consequently, Howard, also an Environmental Biology graduate, was tasked to complete GEO’s OnCourse™ programme that leads to the ecolabel, by evaluating existing practices and taking action as needed across the six core criteria.
Mike O’Connell, Hoebridge Golf Centre senior general manager, commented: “Championing community engagement is a value indoctrinated in every BGL Golf member of staff and it is thanks to the excellent work of Howard, the Hoebridge staff and the local community that we have successfully achieved this prestigious award.”
The final step in achieving GEO Certified™ was for Hoebridge to be visited on-site by an independent, accredited Verifier from the GEO Sustainability Associate (GEOSA) network.
Tony Hanson, GEOSA, said: “Hoebridge Golf Centre is a good custodian of the site, creating a successful balance in protecting the land, encouraging a bio-diverse ecology and providing a valuable asset to the local community.
“They have a good sustainability ethos in place, are absolutely committed to continuing to add even more environmental and community value.”
BGL Golf operates 10 golf facilities across the UK and following Hoebridge’s example, the remaining nine, including six further public pay-and-play centres, are on track to becoming GEO Certified™ later in the year.
GEO is an international not-for-profit organisation working to promote, support and recognise sustainability throughout the golf industry.
More details of the GEO Certified™ Report can be viewed at www.golfenvironment.org/clubs/hoebridgegc
Hoebridge Golf Centre www.hoebridgegc.co.uk