GC Aukrug: Golf in the middle of the nature park

“If we change something, we want to make it close to nature” – with this motto Heinz-Peter-Gloistein as course chairman of the Mittelholsteinischer Golf-Club Aukrug in the Golf Association Schleswig-Holstein has also started the project Golf & Nature in the traditional club. The theme of nature has played a decisive role at the club, which was founded in 1969, since the beginning, because the 58-hectare golf course is located on the grounds of the Aukrug Nature Park. The large oaks, firs and birches testify to the age of the site.

Especially the Sellbek stream, which meanders along and through numerous lanes, plays an essential role with regard to the topic of nature conservation. Now that the Sellbek has already been renaturalized in some parts of its course, this work is also being continued on the grounds of the golf club. “Here, the nature conservation ring has the supervision anyway, we as a club are on the outside,” explains Gloistein. The same applies to the alder swamp forest, which lies completely untouched next to a playing course. Here, nature is given free rein, and the area has long since developed as a valuable habitat for insects and birds.

Blick auf einen Teich und alte Bäume im Mittelholsteinischen Golf-Club Aukrug

When it comes to the topic of biodiversity, the club is active in many areas: When it joined the Golf & Nature program, it made contact with a beekeeper. In the future, the golf club will produce its own honey. In addition, a nesting box project for bats and the tawny owl was carried out together with the environmental organization named Naturschutzring. According to Gloistein, the cooperation is going extremely well. Long ago, he said, the staff of the Naturschutzring recognized that environmentally sound maintenance of the golf course was extremely important to the golf facility.

The freshly sown perennial flower meadows are just further proof of this. Of course, says head greenkeeper Arndt Harbeck, it is important to filter out areas that are away from play. In general, however, the members’ understanding of these measures to promote biodiversity is very high. After all, adds Gloistein, the variety of nature is also what makes the golf course so charming: “Here, all the holes are separated from each other by rows of trees. You simply play in peace and undisturbed.”

The bark beetle has been a major problem for spruce stands in recent years. With numerous tree clearings one tries to get the problem under control. It’s not easy, Gloistein explains with a concerned look at the numerous conifers still found on the site. After all, the shredded wood from 180 spruce trees is now used as soil material between the paths and below the trees. It retains moisture, prevents wild growth and the golf club saves on transportation and disposal. When it comes to tree care, curtsies also play an essential role. Large parts of the property line are lined with them. Periodically, the greenkeepers or external professionals put them on the stick.

Surprisingly hilly, the nine holes of the second half of the course run through the terrain. Between green 16 and tee 17 there is a small hidden fish pond, which is no longer used. Gloistein and Harbeck appreciate the quiet, small area, in whose clear water the trees are reflected. Perhaps, Harbeck speculates, he will try stocking fish again after all.

Golf & Nature as a program for quality management

The Golf & Nature program has given the golf facility a good insight into the topic of quality management, not only in the area of environmental projects. Harbeck has recognized that the company is well positioned in the areas of occupational safety and training. Greenkeeping has been outsourced to an external provider. For the small team of greenkeepers, this has the advantage that many organizational issues in particular are regulated centrally.

Special projects, such as the enlargement of the driving range and the relocation of a course in 2023, will then be tackled jointly. Gloistein, as course manager, is in permanent contact with head greenkeeper Arndt Harbeck anyway, constantly on site. “We live off the Aukrug Nature Park here,” sums up Gloistein. Close-to-nature care is thus a matter of course.