As pointed out in the section ´Design Philosophy´, one of the main propositions is to make golf courses that are as natural as possible. This means, that they are integrated within the environmental conditions of the site, taking advantage of and exploiting to the full the natural resources, not only in the design and construction phase but also throughout the maintenance phase, and for which we design the most up-to-date energy solutions.
We emphasize about the environmental sustainability of the courses. We propose the natural design of the golf courses. This commitment has been acknowledged with the award “Madera Verde for Golf Course Environmental Responsibility” and was rewarded to three golf courses projected by members of the company Magnolia Golf Design. The jury was formed by members of the Socio Cultural Activity Association (APAS) and technicians in environmental matters and supported by the Royal Spanish Golf Federation.
And so, in 2006 the Madera Verde Prize went to Buenavista Golf (Isla Baja, Tenerife) alongside El Saler in Valencia. In 2007 Santa Marina Golf (San Vicente de la Barquera, Cantabria) was assigned the same prize and the following year the same award went to Izki Golf (Alava). These three golf courses are included within Nature Reserves, to be exact within the Nature Reserve of Teno, Oyambre and the Nature Reserve of Izki, and so, serve to show the compatibility of a good golf course project with protection of the environment. Assigning this prize acknowledges and shows the efforts made by the properties with regards to environmental matters.
The aim of this ‘GREEN WOOD’ prize for environmental responsibility is to raise awareness of the various positive aspects that golf brings into society and the efforts that the owners and managers of golf courses are voluntarily making. The jury of the ‘GREEN WOOD’ award has essentially followed the criteria: golf course construction, managing and encouraging the players' involvement in the course. Thus, when building the course, the environmental results of the terrain modification, the analysis of the eroding problems and the existing riverbeds as well as the adjustment to the new use of the land and its impact on the landscape also the water table and the ground water regime all these aspects have been taken into account by the jury. At the same time, all these considerations are studied in depth as well as the level of conservation and enhancement of the flora and fauna of the site.
And to be exact on APAS´ website the following is explained:
The ´Madera Verde´ Prizes for Environmental Responsibility are an initiative aimed at achieving that the golf courses manage their installations in a responsible, environmental way and not as a consequence of an economical sanction or due to a warning made by the appropriate administration party to close down the installations.
The formula is to encourage the courses, through the announcement of the Prizes, to join a certified environmental management with whatever the authorized regulations may be for this purpose (ISO 14001, EMAS Regulation, Q+ Golf, etc.)
The use of natural and energetic resources is construed as well as the level of preservation of the lakes and wetlands. The design of the drainage basins to make the most of the runoff water use and also the surface infiltration are specifically considered in order to achieve an optimal water dosage on each of the areas of the course. Besides, the works performed by the designer and his design team as the ultimate responsible for the construction are assessed by the jury to allocate the prize. This prize also involves the management of the facilities both from the point of view of the Club Management and from the rest of the staff and their training in environmental issues as well as facility planning and strategy with environmental criteria and its impact on weather and seasonal changes.
The arguments of the jury to award both courses were as follows:
In the case of Santa Marina, it was a course fully immersed in a National Park, an environmental example among which particularities are that the Camino de Santiago runs across it and even houses a chapel. Santa Marina is a golf course that goes unnoticed blended completely with the landscape thanks to the fact that its building was carried out with the minimum earthworks. It is a clear example of diversity of flora and fauna, Santa Marina homes an interesting population of otters outnumbering any other group of this kind in Cantabria. Santa Marina has ISO certifications 9001 and 14001. As a curiosity Santa Marina has a duck nest next to the clubhouse. This is a clear proof of the sustainability of the environment. Water consumption in the area is very small.
Buenavista on the other hand is an example of a respectful golf course. It lies in the northeastern coast of the island of Tenerife in the boundaries of the National Teide Park. It is located in a ravine where years ago stood a banana plantation. Buenavista solves optimally the landscape question with spectacular views over the Atlantic Ocean. Besides, it houses interesting Canarian endemic flora micro-reserves.
This Canarian golf course irrigates its premises by way of desalination whereas expecting to expand the current facility to provide surplus water supply, if ever necessary, in the municipality where it is located. In addition and entailed by the Canarian Government, Buenavista also applies environmentally friendly sustainability criteria which is generating so many benefits in the islands.
Undoubtedly, an aspect which requires the highest precision to carry out this project is the water usage. As the vast majority of the farming activity one cannot forget this resource. Two clear advantages had to be taken into account with regards to irrigated crops because the land produces 3.000€/ha. per year while the direct and indirect cost per hectare of a golf course is of 200,000.00 €. Thus, the socioeconomic improvement remains unquestioned for the community. Besides, in many cases the water for irrigation is not even suitable for cropping.
On the other hand, water not used for the irrigation of the grass reloads aquifers by passing through a sand filter – the base of the grass- which increases its quality, having been tested scientifically. A golf course supplies to the underground aquifer seven times more water than its watering needs. Achieving a green belt of golf courses means to have an external water supply. Finally there is a fact that speaks by itself the water needs of all the Spanish courses represent 0,5% of all the resources available.
In our projects we try to include seeds that are undemanding of water quality and adapted to the specific weather conditions. We also include substances which act as sponges and thus feeding the roots gradually meaning a 40% saving in water consumption. Similarly the spraying systems are becoming more and more sophisticated allowing each point of the course to be provided with the required dosage. Our golf courses normally include lakes which were landscape conditioning and strategy to the game alike as well as being water reservoirs. Precisely a network of drainage pipes led to the aforementioned lakes. The aim: take advantage of all water available.
No one doubts that golf courses also provide with other interesting environmental benefits. They drastically reduce runoff and erosion because they significantly help to diminish the floods playing an important role in water retention from the storms. Now that so much is talked about the CO2 graveyards, it is good to remember that the oxygen produced by 5 square meters of grass is enough to allow a person to breath during 24 hours. Truly a real green industry.
We could go on analyzing, one by one, the many features involved in a hole and decide if their presence is essential or unnecessary. This is the concept of MINIMALISM. We should not mistake this with roughness or mediocrity. The aim is to achieve the best possible design but with simpler or less elements.
To be more precise this could be defined as follows:
To achieve a perfect object which cannot be improved by subtraction. It is the quality of an object when each and every part and detail have been reduced or condensed to the essential. Being the result, the removal of the superfluous.
And so we finally reach the perfect equation:
SUSTAINABILITY + MINIMALISM = NATURAL DESIGN