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Royal Wellington win Environmental Club of the Year

POSTED ON September 8, 2021 @ 7:04 pm

Royal Wellington doesn’t consider themselves just a golf course, but a wildlife sanctuary too.

Their course has become eco-friendly through years of hard work and now plays home to native birdlife, clean waterways, trees, and fauna. Their work earned them the Environmental Club of the Year at the 2020 National Golf Awards, an award they’re incredibly proud of.

At the beginning 2011, the club renovated, and they had a strong focus on the future. They realised they had a special piece of land and wanted it to thrive as much as possible.

Royal Wellington is thriving

They’ve since cleared their three waterways of any pollution, and they’re chemical-free. They have strong birdlife, a pest-control program.

Royal Wellington is one of five clubs in New Zealand that is GEO certified.

Course Manager and passionate Royal Wellington member John Spraggs says it’s an honor to be the 2020 Environmental Club of the Year.

“We are absolutely thrilled.

“You keep doing these things and putting your hand up, and to get the recognition against other clubs and peers is very rewarding. We’re very, very pleased.

“We had to ensure what we were doing wasn’t harming the environment and the sustainability of the place.

It was about that time that The R&A came onboard with On-Course and the GEO Foundation, and we put our hands up straight away. We were little bit behind Remuera Golf Club; they beat us to the punch on that one. But we’ve been here from day one in New Zealand and became GEO-certified in 2017 and recertified in 2020.

“We are pretty proud of our streams, there are three of them throughout the property. The water quality is monitored yearly to ensure no contamination from what we are putting on our course might be harmful to the waterway. We created buffer zones and no mow areas bordering them and there is absolutely no sign from any of the testing we do of any bleaching other than the stormwater that comes off the road from time to time,” Spraggs explains.

Even though they’re already making a difference, they’re not stopping there.

Spraggs is excited about what the club is currently doing and its future plans in this space.

“We’ve ramped it up again over the past two years. We’ve gone away from using any synthetic fertilisers, we use organic based nutrients, and we limit the use of agrichemical use.

“It took a little while for us to wrap our heads around the organic model but it works  we are using a lot of fish emulsions and worm juice.It’s going very well.”


The club changed from Poa Annua grass after it died in the summer of 2018. January was hot and humid, so the club saw this as an opportunity to seed their course with something different.

With the environment and sustainability at the forefront of their minds, they went with New Zealand Brown Top on their fairways and a three-way blend of Fescues in the rough.

We are  70 percent of the way to being finished, something the self-proclaimed golf nut is happy about.

“We’re trying to change the grasses in our rough to reduce the mowing frequencies and we’re very conscious that we can’t keep burning fuels all the time. The change to the fescue grass has reduced our mowing of the rough from around 32 mows a year to under 20, which is hugely significant.

“The change has given us better and firmer surfaces for our membership,” Spraggs says.

The club’s work in this space couldn’t happen without a supportive membership. We  have a pest-control program in which some of the members are heavily involved in. We  have more than 70 stoat traps on course and are also getting rid of the rabbit population, meaning the birdlife is thriving.

Spraggs is proud to be working for a club that is so passionate about the environment.

“I’m really proud. I’ve been at Royal Wellington for almost 17 years now, and I don’t like to look back too often,” he laughs.

“I’m pleased with all the support we get from the membership, committees, and captains from over the years for me to drive a lot of our environmental work. It’s not me paying for it; they’re paying for it. They’re allowing us to do what we propose, and it’s a really nice touch.”

Spraggs would like to see more clubs partner with On-Course and the GEO Foundation, – organisations that Golf New Zealand supports  He has desires of all clubs to be working toward GEO certification.

He loves the fact Royal Wellington has, and he’s reaping the rewards as the place is thriving.

He says he has a special affinity with the place.

“I love the property. I love the diversity of the place. It’s not just a golf course; it’s a wildlife haven; it has everything going for it, we are working on getting  trout introduced to our streams,  getting rid of the predators, regrassing the course and we see  a fair bit of golf out here as well.

“There is no where else I’d rather be.”

Source: Golf NZ

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