Case Studies

Het Rijk Golfbanen: step by step

A Dutch approach to achieving multi-course certification

17th April 2015
Assessing progress
Putting out at Het Rijk van Nijmegen.  

To fulfil the GEO Certified® requirements for just one golf course is a big project, but how do you keep track if you own four courses?

Hans Blaauw is Director of Het Rijk Golfbanen, a company that owns four courses in the centre, east and south of the Netherlands. Het Rijk van Nijmegen, Het Rijk van Nunspeet, Het  Rijk van Sybrook and Het Rijk van Margraten are the ‘homes’ of four Golf Clubs affiliated with the Dutch Golf Federation (NGF). They have a joint membership of 3,700 members.

“Spread over the four courses, we have 117 holes and, depending on the weather, between 180,000 and 200,000 rounds are played annually”, says Hans Blaauw, who took up his current job in November 2008. “I hope that we’re not jumping the gun in this article, because none of the four courses is currently GEO certified. At least, not yet. Which isn’t to say that our company doesn't pursue a nature and environmentally-friendly policy. On the contrary, over the years we’ve introduced a number of measures that have proved to be effective. What we’re doing now is putting all these measures together, both with experts in the field and with the NGF.”

Hans Blaauw

“All our courses include areas with great natural value” Hans Blaauw

Blaauw continues, “All our courses include areas with great natural value. For years, we’ve been speaking with the Municipalities and the nature and environmental associations.”

Blaauw started the ‘putting together’ process first at Het Rijk van Nijmegen. This course, situated south of the city of Nijmegen, opened at the end of the 1980s and now has 45 holes. It is also the course where Dutch professional Robert-Jan Derksen started his golfing career. In 2003, he won the Dubai Desert Classic and in 2005 the Madeira Islands Open. Derksen ended his successful career in 2014.

“The putting together process at Het Rijk van Nijmegen is going well”, according to Hans Blaauw. “We’re hoping to receive the GEO Certificate during the KLM Open at the beginning of September 2015. Our 2015-2017 Business Plan specifies that all the other courses will follow quickly, based on our experience in Nijmegen. This seems the most effective way, at any rate, and it’s better than making them all stand-alone projects. I hope that all four courses or at least three will be GEO certified by the end of 2017.”

Asked why the company would want to go through this process, Blaauw responds, “In the first place, a Golf Course must accept its social responsibility. That seems logical in the year 2015. But, as the Dutch government currently has far-reaching plans to virtually prohibit the use of pesticides, there’s no getting away from the need for completely different maintenance and management procedures. And we must guarantee that members and Green Fee players alike will be able to continue enjoying their sport on well-presented courses. GEO helps with that. And will this ultimately lead to cost-saving? That’s not our primary concern, but it may be something for the long term.”