GC Neckartal: 135 hectares of golf course habitat
135 hectares of golf course are Irmgard Schaller‘s workplace. At Neckartal Golf Club, the golfer is responsible for all matters relating to the environment. Voluntary, of course. But unlike most other board members in Germany, she doesn’t oversee the nature issue on the side. The GC Neckartal has created a separate board position for this area.
Anyone who walks the course knows why: with 135 hectares of land and only 18 holes, it offers a habitat for flora and fauna. Here there are compensation areas, avenues of trees, hedge areas, meadows of all kinds. Schaller’s expert eye falls on the huge poplars that give the golf course a special character. “Unfortunately, due to the extremely large mistletoe infestation, we have to keep cutting down individual trees to maintain traffic safety,” she notes. The lush crowns are actually full of the semiparasitic plant.
Tree sponsorship program a great success
With the help of a tree sponsorship program, the club is now in the process of simultaneously providing replantings since the beginning of 2022. “In the selection process,” Schaller says, “we are now, of course, making sure to choose trees right away that can handle climate change.” Members could choose to donate 200, 400 or 600 euros. The club added the same amount for the purchase of the trees in each case, in order to be able to buy plants with an appealing size. In fact, the tree sponsorship program has taken off: 40 members signed up within a short time. After all, planting opportunities abound on 135 acres.
The enormous area of the course, which directly borders the city of Kornwestheim, belongs to the Federal Property Administration and has been used by the American Stuttgart Golf Course as the operator of the golf course since 1956, leaves a lot of room for activities within the framework of the project Habitat Golf Course in the Baden-Württemberg Golf Association. Around 70 bird species have now been identified during the regular excursions. Honey bees are just as much at home here as wild bees. Dead wood areas can be found as well as large rough grassland meadows that stretch beyond the courses on the gently undulating terrain. Seeding various new areas with perennial seed is a standard program at GC Neckartal. The colorful flowering meadows – according to Schaller’s experience – are largely very well received by the approximately 1,000 golfers.
Cooperation with NABU and the beekeepers association
The good cooperation with the Ludwigsburg Beekeepers’ Association and NABU Kornwestheim at least ensures that the care of hundreds of old fruit trees is regulated. Pruning is largely done by the tenants. The selection of the young fruit trees – all native species – is done by the experts from NABU.
Non-golfers were fascinated by this golf course from the first visit. No wonder: large-scale hedge structures provide a perfect retreat for birds. Insects appreciate the scattered orchards and generous meadows. Possible prejudices with regard to the golf course were quickly put aside. Schaller concludes that environmental protection and golf go together very well.