Hill Side Golf & Country Club opened in 2005 and now has two 18 hole courses, the Hill and the Valley. Hill Side has always strived to reach high environmental standards, and sustainable development and management plans have been integrated into decisions and everyday work since day one.
As a well-earned recognition for this commitment, Hill Side was awarded the GEO Certified™ ecolabel in July 2012 after Head Greenkeeper Tuukka Monttinen and Club Manager, Ville Nurmi, made a quick decision to complete the questions in the OnCourse™ programme and be counted for their good work.
Hill Side’s experience highlights just how easy it is to integrate the OnCourse™ programme at your club…just sign up and get started. The programme can act as your sustainability policy and step-by-step action plan, letting you focus on recording and improving results instead of planning. Tuukka completed most of the questions and supplied most of the data himself, working with the Ville to complete the questions relevant to the clubhouse. Tuukka has also taken the step of tracking some information and data to show some of the positive impacts his sustainability actions have made.
Using the OnCourse™ Programme: Tuukka’s Story
After hearing about OnCourse™ and GEO Certified™, a simple conversation between Ville and Tuuka led to a quick decision to sign-up and give it a try. As OnCourse™ is free, and confidential until after certification, there was no risk or need for committee discussion at this point.
“Most of the application questions were things I know well already as part of the day-to-day running of the course, and the data was easily accessed from our energy invoices for example. We were able to complete all the questions within two weeks, review and check them for a week, and after a one-day on-site visit from the Verifier, we achieved GEO Certified™.
“We were already doing a lot of things right, but without starting the OnCourse™ programme we wouldn’t have known how to show it, or progress to the next level. OnCourse™ is a tool that helps Course Managers start to question their practices, to see how they can improve in the future. And it follows a simple process that was clear to use, especially the self explanatory guidance for every question”.
”GEO Certified is an investment, not a cost”
Tuukka Monttinen, Head Greenkeeper, Hill Side G&CC
After achieving GEO Certified TM
Head Greenkeeper Tuukka valued the simplicity of the OnCourseTM programme – and the benefits it delivered. Based on his analysis of the money and time he saved, he concludes: “GEO is an investment NOT a cost. People can decide for themselves what they want out of it – a way to assess and record their work and data, a way to improve over time, or an accolade to be shared with people, letting people know about how sustainably the club and course are being operated”.
Sustainable Actions and Benefits
Through efficient recording of data, a focus on sustainability and a commitment to continual improvement, Hill Side G&CC achieved significant cost-savings and improved their overall product. In 2012, after achieving GEO CertifiedTM and implementing more efficient maintenance methods, the club achieved cost savings of over €10,000. Here are just a few examples of the various steps taken across the facility that contributed to the savings:
Installed a new water-flow meter in 2012 in order to improve their irrigation monitoring. A deal was agreed between the club and the meter supplier for a free flow meter to be installed in return for a fairway-advertising banner.
Tuuka reduced the managed areas of rough on the courses and recorded the data for working hours, machinery use and fuel consumption related to the rough maintenance.
Through sustainable management and effective monitoring of data, a reduction in electricity costs was achieved.
Water use at Hill Side:
- 2010 (27 holes) = 58,000m3
- 2011 (36 holes) = 72,000m3
- 2012 (36 holes + flow meter) = 35,000m3
Hill Side achieved a clear reduction in water use, resulting in cost-savings, environmental and playability benefits.
With a more efficient management plan, cost savings of approximately €3,500 were made in 2012. This was due to the reduced time spent mowing the rough (392 hours), reduced machinery use, and subsequent reduced fuel costs (€1,500).
Renewable electricity grid costs:
- 2009 = €52,000
- 2010 = €47,000
- 2011 = €48,000
- 2012 = €38,000