In January I was fortunate enough to visit Queenstown, New Zealand and play some of the fantastic golf courses which have made this region one of the best golfing destinations in the world. The likes of Queenstown Golf Club, Jack’s Point, Millbrook Resort and Arrowtown Golf Club are all very unique in their own way and are a must-see not only golfers but turf managers as well.
The one course that I was very interested to visit from an environmental management perspective was Jack’s Point. Recently honoured internationally for its efforts in sustainability and commitment to protecting the environment, I was eager to find out how they had taken out the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) Sustainability Award for ‘Nature Protection’.
The IAGTO Sustainability Awards represent the pinnacle of a strategic partnership between global golf tourism trade association IAGTO and non-profit golf sustainability body, the GEO Foundation, with the awards recognising excellence in environmental and social responsibility.
In announcing Jacks Point as a winner, IAGTO and GEO representatives commented: “Jack’s Point wins the 2019 Nature Award category due to its extraordinary preservation of the breathtaking natural landscape.
Completed in 2008, the course construction was so sensitive that only five per cent of the entire 3000-acre site will ever be touched.
A range of natural materials were utilised, with recycled on-site materials incorporated as much as possible, including local wood and stone. Man-made structures were sited appropriately below sight lines and away from natural bluffs and elevated areas.
“The legislation was in place to ensure the open grassland habitat and rocky terrain (appropriately named ‘The Remarkables’ mountain range) will always be protected and the club is absolutely committed to the preservation of the environment. Wetland habitats were created and existing ones regenerated with improved water quality, previously degraded by pollution from livestock farming. The course has its own irrigation supply and wastewater treatment system.”
Course superintendent at Jack’s Point is Simon Forshaw who took me on a tour of the course to look at current and future works, explain how they maintain the course daily while being environmentally aware and the sustainability initiatives that played a part in them winning the award.
The land upon which Jack’s Point resides, on the shores of the stunning Lake Wakatipu, was previously a sheep station and to honour that history some sheep still graze on select areas of the property. Walking into the pro shop and looking at a photo of the parcel of land that was paddock after paddock and to see it now in its current state is a testament to all involved in its design and construction.
Driftwood washed up along the shoreline is used for course furniture, while select cart paths are made from locally sourced sleepers. Even the fairway ropes are made from hemp
I could not believe the transformation that had occurred, especially with the course being completed in 2008. Since the land has been converted to a golf course, many fauna species, especially birds, have returned and now use the native scrublands, wetland areas and native pasture areas as habitat.
Apart from a small minority, all course furnishings have been made from recycled materials either from the existing farm or from nearby sources. The tee and fairway markers are crafted from the dead stems of the endemic Matagouri tree which can be found throughout the course. These trees have a special significance to Jack’s Point. They are extremely slow growing with some specimens on the course being over 100 years old.