Case Studies

Danish club keeps record of savings

Danish club produces a successful and sustainable golf course on small budget.

A warm welcome awaits all at Jammerbugtens Golf Club  
Jammerbugtens Golf Club

The Danish club provides an excellent example of how a stable business operation can be maintained.

The Jammerbugtens Golf Club, situated close to the small community of Fjerritslev, on the northwest coast of Jutland, has an overall annual budget of just 1.6 million Danish Krone (DKK), or around £185,000 (see Appendix for breakdown), but it has a thriving membership of 400 and annually attracts between 2,500 to 3,000 visitors who pay a green fee of 300 DKK (£34) each. It is also consistently being praised for the condition of its golf course.

The club believes its success is based on strict adherence to best practice management principles and to a sustainable greens programme which could be used as a model for other clubs facing similar financial constraints.

Jammerbugtens employs just one full-time greenkeeper, Anders Nielsen, who is responsible for looking after an 18-hole course measuring 5,953-yards (par 71) plus a driving range and a 9-hole par-3 course. He does receive some part-time help, both from club members and from two casual workers, provided by the local council, who help with mowing during the growing season, but this assistance is strictly limited. The average number of greenkeeping hours through the summer from all these sources adds up to a total of 120 a week.

The Danish club provides an excellent example of how a stable business operation can be maintained despite limited resources and which has seen the club’s budget drop from 1.85 million DKK (£215,000) in 2007 to 2012’s figure of 1.6 million DKK. At the core of the club’s success is its sustainable course maintenance policy.

Improving grasses to save money
Ten years ago the Club decided to implement a plan to rid its greens of annual meadow-grass (Poa annua) and to replace it with fine fescues (Festuca species). It also elected to reduce the size of its closely mown areas (greens, tees and fairways) to around 18 hectares in order to reduce costs and regulate work load.

Under this policy the use of fertilisers and pesticides has been kept to a minimum and the use of water is strictly monitored, as shown in the following tables.

Fertiliser applied in kg/ha 

 

 2011

2010 

2009

2008 

2007 

2006 

Nitrogen

  4.1 

 8.5 

11.6 

 8.9 

30.6 

 28

Phosphorus

   0 

 0.5

 1.3 

 0.1 

 4.5 

 5.4 

Potassium

  1.6 

10.5

15.5 

 13 

35.3 

 27 

Number of pesticide applications

   2011 2010  2009 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002 
Fungicides     0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0 
Herbicides    0    0    0    0    0    1    1    1    1    1 
Insecticides*    1    0    1    1    1    1    1    1    1    1 

Amount of irrigation water applied in cubic metres
   2011 2010  2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002 
2,677  9,300  9,435  7,500  3,000  3,625  7,347  7,565  5,600  3,425 

 

Progress on the greens was relatively slow until 2010 when the club’s over-seeding regime was trebled (in terms of the amount of seed used). However, the end result now is that 16 out of the 18 greens are dominated by fescue and provide a graphic illustration of how fine grasses will prosper in dry soil conditions. The fescue-dominated surfaces also provide noticeably improved playability throughout the golfing season.

The two exceptions are the 8th and 9th greens which are situated in very low lying areas and tend to be much wetter than the others for most of the year. They remain dominated by annual meadow-grass (Poa annua) with some bent grass also present in the sward and are consequently more difficult to maintain.
Play continues as long as the snow holds off. Picture taken in December 2011  

Reaping the rewards
Nielsen, named “Greenkeeper of the Year 2011” by the Danish Greenkeepers Association, is adamant the decision to promote fescue has had a huge benefit for both the condition of the course and his time management.“Looking after Jammerbugtens is not easy,” he said. “We are continually having to review what we do and what it will cost. However, I am now seeing the time-saving benefit from the establishment of fescue and this enables me to organise the available labour resources to make sure we present a good golfing experience.”

He added: “The fine grasses we have developed also only require very low inputs of fertiliser, pesticides and water. That’s an important consideration given our limited budget and, from an environmental perspective, this minimisation of chemical use is extremely desirable since it limits the potential for damage to the local ecosystems.

Furthermore, in the light of the new controls on pesticide use in Denmark, minimising reliance on chemicals has put the club in a strong position for avoiding pressure from growing national legislation."

The benefits of a switch to a more sustainable course maintenance policy are also not lost on Erik Thomsen, the Chairman of the club’s Course Committee, who is vociferous in his praise for Nielsen’s efforts in this regard.

“We appreciate how difficult Ander’s task is with such a limited budget,” he said. “However, the changes in the way the course had been managed provide the club members with excellent surfaces for as much of the year as the weather lets us play on them.”

Jammerbugtens Golf Club
Quality putting green turf at Jammerbugtens

Summary
The Jammerbugtens example shows that a big budget is not necessary to provide an enjoyable, quality golf experience.  It also demonstrates that grass selection is a key choice towards a more sustainable approach to course management.

Further information about Jammerbugtens can be found on the club’s website at www.jbgolf.dk.

Appendix
Course costs for 2012

 

DKK

£

Course rent

335,000

37,659

Rental equipment  

10,000

1,123

Fertiliser  

55,000

6,179

Seed

35,000

3,932

Topdressing and                 

55,000

6,179

Water tax                                     

10,000

1,124

Central heating                             

30,000

3,372

Electricity    

22,200

2,495

Petrol and diesel                        

70,000

7,869

Maintenance course                  

40,000

4,496

Maintenance house                  

7,500

843

Maintenance of equipment       

80,000

8,993

Tools for workshop               

20,000

2,248

Waste 

13,000

1,461

Salaries, pension and tax

984,000

110,614

Salaries State programme  

-205,000

-23,046

Insurance      

23,000

2,585

Work clothes                    

12,000

1,349

Education   

14,000

1,573

Staff costs                       

5,000

562

Driving expenses           

10,000

1,124

Telephone

6,000

674

Additional course expenses  

14,900

1,675

Total

1,646,600

185,083