Wiesbaden GC: Traditional club wants to conserve resources

Small but extremely diverse: that is the slogan that defines the Wiesbaden Golf Club. From an area of 27 hectares, not really much for a golf course, head greenkeeper Thomas Bäder gets the maximum out when it comes to biodiversity. “After all, you can achieve a lot if you take the needs of the animals into account in the conditions on site,” Bäder sums up, pointing to the insect hotel near the clubhouse. The Greenkeeper team in Wiesbaden only used material for construction that was available on site anyway and was no longer needed. Most importantly, after the insect hotel was built, Bäder also checked the extent to which the house was accepted by the insects. Result: It fits.

Large Benjes hedge habitat

At the lower edge of the golf course in Wiesbaden, the golfer comes across another structure – a lush Benjes hedge, which is not often found in Germany in this size. Tree pruning, says Bäder and groundskeeper Gerald Weyer, is plentiful at the golf club, which not only participates in the Hessian Golf Association’s Habitat Golf Course project, but is also certified Gold in the Golf & Nature program. The course dates back to 1912, at that time the golf course looked relatively open. Meanwhile, the lush trees make the charm of the square. Part of the tree cuttings and brushwood have been used to create the Benjes hedge, which now provides a habitat for numerous birds.

Weyer and Bäder conclude that climate change can be documented on the trees at the Wiesbaden Golf Club. “We have largely site-typical trees on the site here, but we are finding that they are increasingly suffering from the drought,” Bäder sums up. “When I started here 25 years ago, this was one of the wettest places in Germany.” The situation has changed. In the meantime, the issues of drought and water shortage constantly occupy the Greenkeeper team and the Board of Directors. “It’s actually getting worse all the time,” Weyer sums up. Above all, the issue is increasingly becoming a financial burden for the plant. Since water extraction via a well has not been approved, the golf course has to rely on drinking water from the city of Wiesbaden’s pipeline network. It’s clear to the club’s board that this is “anything but environmentally sustainable.”

New storage pond as a solution

The solution is to be provided by a large storage pond, which will be available as an emergency storage facility with a maximum capacity of 3600 m³. On the one hand, precipitation is to be collected here, and on the other hand, surface and drainage water is to be collected during heavy rainfall events. At the same time, the pond will have a shallow water zone, which will also serve as a breeding area for water birds, so that the issue of promoting biodiversity is also taken into account.

For the golf club with its 9-hole course, the construction of the pond represents an enormous cost of around 240,000 euros. Nevertheless, according to groundskeeper Weyer, no other solution is conceivable in the long term: “The public discussion about sustainability and conservation of resources will increase in the future,” he told the members. “So it doesn’t fit the picture when the Wiesbaden Golf Club uses the average consumption of 120 families of four for water per year. Quite apart from the fact that we ourselves are also committed to the principle of practicing our sport in harmony with nature and in an environmentally friendly manner.”

Water saving greenkeeping

The approach to greater sustainability is complemented by water-saving greenkeeping. Thomas Bäder knows his greens very well. When it gets dry, hand-watering the dry areas here is a normal routine. Baths tries to use the available water sparingly. Deep green fairways are not an issue there anyway. After all, for the quality of the game in the end is relevant to the density and quality of the grass, not its color. This, Weyer and Bäder note, has also been a learning process for the members of the Wiesbaden Golf Club. A lot of communication helps at this point. “You have to explain to golfers where the development is going,” Bäder explains. At the Wiesbaden Golf Club, they are optimistic that this will enable them to survive the challenges of climate change. Germany’s oldest golf club, founded in 1893, has grown accustomed to challenges in almost 130 years of club history.