03 Mar 2022 | Clubs & Facilities |

Glenelg creating a sustainable future

by Dane Heverin

Native vegetation on the 8th hole at Glenelg Golf Club. Photo: Monina Gilbey.
Native vegetation on the 8th hole at Glenelg Golf Club. Photo: Monina Gilbey.

Glenelg Golf Club in Adelaide boasts a rich history, but in its 95th year the Club is looking forward rather than back.

Glenelg is in the midst of a sustainability project that will ensure there are many more chapters added to their own history books and those of clubs around the country.

Indigenous vegetation in the course’s out of play areas are being restored and the club has joined with three other Adelaide golf clubs - Kooyonga, The Grange and Royal Adelaide - in enriching the local ecosystem by creating a safe space for native insect and animal species.

“We’re hoping to create a corridor of habitat for the butterflies between the four golf courses,” Glenelg’s biodiversity manager, Monina Gilbey, said.

The project began last November when the four clubs’ received a Green Adelaide Grassroots Grant and Gilbey is leading the charge.

“We’ve already been working on rewilding a butterfly. The butterfly larvae have been collected from other parts of South Australia and we’re trying to reintroduce them to the Adelaide metropolitan region,” she said.

“We’ve done our first two butterfly releases at Royal Adelaide and a release of caterpillars too.”

The project also aims to connect vegetation pockets - including a plan to relocate a rare orchid from The Grange to Glenelg - between the courses, hold educational workshops on local Kaurna history and cultural burning practices, and install nest boxes and bee hotels.

Those objectives are an expansion of the work Gilbey and Glenelg’s maintenance team have undertaken in the four years since she joined the club on a part-time basis.

She began her role alongside Glenelg’s superintendent Tim Warren and has implemented a staged process to restore native vegetation.

Her work began with the removal of pine trees - which were classified as weeds - and other dead plant material from the course and has progressed to protecting the corellas, Australian painted lady butterflies, ducklings, fairy wrens, bees, caterpillars and many other wildlife that enjoy the safe spaces of Glenelg.

These native animals and insects feature prominently on the Glenelg maintenance team’s Instagram page and they have caught the eye of people around the globe.

“The Instagram account is driving a lot of interest and people really get what we’re doing. It is something quite different for golf clubs,” Gibley said.

“I think this is quite a new thing in Australia. If you look at other parts of the world it seems to happen a lot. I’m not sure why. 

“At Glenelg we’re very lucky to have Tim Warren who is very passionate about environmental issues. Nathan Bennett at Royal Adelaide is really good too. It just takes more superintendents to get it, but it’s happening. More people are starting to understand the benefits of it.

“Things like reducing irrigated rough and managed turf areas means less chemical usage and less resources. Using electric vehicles around the course helps too. There are wider benefits. It’s not just happy, fluffy environmental things.”

David Speirs, South Australia's Minister for Environment and Water, visits Glenelg Golf Club.

One person who has shown strong support for Gibley’s efforts is David Speirs, South Australia’s Minister for Environment and Water.

“This is a real sign of leadership as golf courses recognise that they actually do play a significant role in sustainability,” Speirs said when he visited Glenelg last month.

“At Glenelg we’re seeing work done around the Yellowish Sedge Skipper, that’s a butterfly, which is rare and native that we need to be looking after.

“They’ve been doing insect surveys, working with Kaurna people to find out about the Kaurna heritage of these sites.

“I want to congratulate them for that and look forward to this partnership between Green Adelaide and these golf courses going from strength to strength for our environment.”

Golf Australia’s Clubs and Facilities Senior Support Manager Matt Chesterman is also delighted by what he has seen at Glenelg and he is looking forward to seeing more clubs and facilities following suit.

“The project really demonstrates how golf courses can contribute to society in ways that typically aren’t associated with sport,” Chesterman said.

“Golf courses have attributes that differ to those of typical suburban open space such as parks and other sporting fields which allows for the regeneration of indigenous flora and fauna. Golf as a sport occupies significant amounts of land across the country, both in metropolitan & regional areas, and initiatives such as this demonstrate that the custodianship is not just environmentally responsible but extremely positive.

 “While Glenelg have resources to drive these projects forward, they have shown that funding bodies have confidence in golf courses to deliver on investment. If your club or facility has an interest in returning some areas to indigenous vegetation, or doing some positive environmental activity, some work sourcing some passionate volunteers or exploring funding opportunities might be all that you need to get started. 

“If you don’t know where to start, I encourage clubs & facilities to reach out to their clubs & facilities support manager where we can discuss what opportunities you could investigate.”

Find out how your club can be involved in creating a sustainable future at https://www.golf.org.au/clubsupport 

Some of the native insect and animal species at Glenelg. Top left: a white-faced heron. Top right: a blue banded bee. Bottom left: an Australian painted lady. Bottom right: a corella. Photos: Monina Gilbey.
Some of the native insect and animal species at Glenelg. Top left: a white-faced heron. Top right: a blue banded bee. Bottom left: an Australian painted lady. Bottom right: a corella. Photos: Monina Gilbey.

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