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Environmental award for Nairn Dunbar Golf Club beating off international competition


By Will Clark

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Nairn Dunbar Golf Club is celebrating a notable success after claiming the 2021 Environmental Golf Course of the Year accolade.

The greenkeeping team at Nairn Dunbar Gofl Club with their award. From L-R: Graeme Robbins - Assistant Greenkeeper; Richard Johnstone - Course Manager; Michael McInnes - Assistant Greenkeeper; Ryan Knox - Apprentice Greenkeeper.
The greenkeeping team at Nairn Dunbar Gofl Club with their award. From L-R: Graeme Robbins - Assistant Greenkeeper; Richard Johnstone - Course Manager; Michael McInnes - Assistant Greenkeeper; Ryan Knox - Apprentice Greenkeeper.

At the annual Golf Environment Awards, held virtually last week due to Covid-19, theclub were recognised for their outstanding commitment to environmental and sustainability projects.

Beating off the challenge of three other finalists – two English venues, The Springs in Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire County, along with the Hong Kong Golf Club – Nairn Dunbar emerged victorious after sustained work to improve the quality of their course for members and visitors.

Course manager Richard Johnstone was pleased to win the award after being nominated for it last year.

Johnstone, who is continuing to engage in education with the aim to become one of the most qualified in the UK, said: “It is great to see that all the work we are doing as a club is being recognised.

“We strive to achieve environmental sustainability and provide a positive contribution to wildlife.

“By doing that, we can continue to maximise the playing experience for members and guests.”

On and off the course, Johnstone has overseen a host of projects which were highlighted by the judges.

The course is a haven for wildlife, a sign of a healthy environment, while members and visitors are enjoying an improved links experience.

With the club looking forward to co-hosting qualifying for The Amateur Championship with The Nairn Golf Club next summer, Johnstone implemented a management plan to return the links roughs to their natural condition.

That has meant Nairn Dunbar have allowing native grasses, wildflowers and heathers to regenerate to a dominant position and leave open and wispy roughs for players to navigate.

Working closely with the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and STRI, tree and gorse thinning has revealed the natural topography.

It has also allowed natural grasses to return, restoring the links effect to the overall course.

Nairn Dunbar – where professionals Russell Knox and Kelsey MacDonald are honorary members – are also working with The R&A to promote Golf Course 2030, an initiative to address the challenges posed by climate change, resources and regulation on course conditioning and playability.


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