Dundonald Links Golf Club (with Thomas Johnstone Ltd)

VIBES Award: Good Practice

Highlights:

  • Collaborative working between the Club and their construction company to showcase nature-based solutions.
  • Integrating nature protection and resource management with world class sustainable ‘stay & play’ golfing.
  • Getting the community involved and effective partnerships.
  • Thriving despite COVID-19 - from staff safety guidelines, to providing meals for shielding residents.

Dundonald Links is an 18 hole Championship golf course on the Ayrshire Coast which attracts over 30,000 local and international visitors a year. The club is putting sustainability at the centre of creating a world class golfing experience. Their Sustainability Guidelines focus on four main goals to protect and enhance the natural environment; Fostering Nature, Conserving Resources, Strengthening Community, and Climate Action.

The course has hosted many Scottish and European professional tournaments making it a valuable contributor to the local economy and green tourism.

Darwin Escapes acquired Dundonald in 2019 and is undertaking a £25 million new development which will significantly improve the sustainability and environmental performance of the site with new five-star accommodation and clubhouse due to open late 2021. The course’s dramatic seafront setting, existing landscape features and local ecosystem enrichment are central components of the redesign. 

Golf courses can be a haven for wildlife. Promoting and protecting biodiversity has been a focus during the Dundonald redevelopment. The Club, in collaboration with the construction company Thomas Johnstone, is developing best practice for the golfing sector to maintain and enhance natural landscapes and conserve wildlife. From creating wetlands, naturalised and bare sand areas, to use of green roofing, dune protection systems and rainwater harvesting. All construction waste is also being segregated and all soil reused for in-house golf course projects.

The company has a vision to be a leader in sustainability, within both the local and the golfing communities. Clear sustainable procurement guidelines supported by a collaborative approach have helped deliver environmental benefits and drive green thinking into all decision-making at the club. They continue to use their guidelines to influence change throughout their supply chains.

Notable examples of Dundonald Links' effective partnership working include with Zero Waste Scotland to host “zero waste to landfill” tournaments – a first for both the women's European Tour and European Tour. Dundonald Links also realised that a greater impact can be gained if they work with other enterprises to create local networks for nature.  For example, they initially co-led the creation of the Nectar Network, aimed at establishing nectar and pollen rich “re-fuelling” points for bees and other pollinating insects along the 30-mile Irvine to Girvan coastline. This collaboration has led to increased connecting wildflower habitats, providing nectar sources. The flagship for the project has been the reintroduction of the Small blue butterfly, which had become extinct in Ayrshire and not been seen since 1982 - a remarkable success story for Scotland’s Pollinator Strategy.  Dundonald remains a steering group member of the Nectar Network, now led by Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Dundonald Links places great importance on their local community and social commitments.  They have used their tournaments to drive community and nature awareness, creating nature trails in the green space for children during the tournament, and providing tented village space free for Scottish Wildlife Trust to help promote community engagement. They provide free golf lessons and a safe place to play to over 3000 school children through the Active Schools Programme, and donate charity golf games. 

Dundonald Links is thriving despite the COVID-19 pandemic challenges with construction and golf operations continuing.  Over 120 staff were retained by Dundonald's operator Darwin Escapes on 100% salary and guidelines introduced to maximise staff’s health and wellbeing including investing in laptops for staff to work from home where business allowed. Food parcels are regularly donated to North Ayrshire Social Services to support the vulnerable in the community.

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