The Belfry Hotel & Resort is an award-winning hotel situated in the heart of the country in Royal Sutton Coldfield, North Warwickshire. The resort is home to three golf courses, including The Brabazon and PGA National and Derby, with the Iconic Brabazon recognised as world-class, and has hosted The Ryder Cup four times – more than any other venue in the world. The Belfry is also set to host this year’s Betfred British Masters for the third consecutive year.
Being one of the largest hospitality venues within the region, The Belfry recognises its responsibility within the local community and surroundings, which is why the team is committed to protecting the environment and is proud to have received a silver award from Green Tourism.
Angus Macleod, Director of Golf Courses and Estates at The Belfry, ensures his team is taking the right steps to place sustainability at the heart of everything the team does on the courses and ensures they are making a positive impact on the environment.
A healthy environment
With over 550 acres of rolling countryside, 700 team members, over 300 bedrooms, multiple bars and restaurants, and three golf courses, my team and I are custodians of an amazing destination. Not only do we want to protect and provide a fantastic environment for our team, the environment, wildlife, our predecessors, and the local community, but also for the hundreds of thousand visitors we attract every year, with around 110,000 golfers alone.
There are a number of ways to look after a golf course, but we ensure that we take a sustainable and holistic approach when it comes to the soil and turf at The Belfry. We are here to create a healthy and disease resistant turf while also creating natural habitats for the wildlife which call our resort home, as well as maintaining good and well managed waste reduction and water resource management systems.
The resort has secured significant funding for future development, work on which is starting imminently. Development plans ensure that we won’t take away, but instead will increase habitats and planting around the resort. The new development has a real focus on ESG, and several sustainability initiatives are already underway. This includes the installation of waterless urinals; additional electric vehicle charging points, plus the introduction of onsite electric vehicles, such as electric golf buggies; switching 80% of the resort’s lighting to LED, with many of the areas now lit by motion sensor lights; a focus on wildlife enrichment areas; and switching to biodegradable and recyclable material for marketing and promotional products.
We are also aiming to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030, having saved 3 million kWh of energy combined across electricity and gas in 2022 when comparing its usage with 2019.
We are working on our environmental quality through reducing negative impacts on soil, water, and air quality, with limited nitrogen use and pesticide inputs. We use data to determine nutrient inputs, which allows us to reduce applications, helping save costs with reduced machinery, diesel, and petrol usage.
Looking after our turf
We have a responsibility to do things right. We don’t want our golfers or wildlife being exposed to pesticide products, so we use a variety of turf across the resort with many being pest resistant. When we do need to target weeds, we use Integrated Pest Management (IPM), an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management to ensure our turf stays healthy, as well as our guests and environment. The greenkeeping team utilise ‘buffer zones’ around water sites when using any products which might impact water quality and herbicides are not blanket sprayed. The team spot treat or cultural control to dig weeds out completely to lower the environmental impact.
The Greenkeeping team also use our existing greens to produce up to 1000sqft of new turf within our Turf Nursery. We use all products that have grown on site enabling us to cut down our carbon footprint.
Each year we have committed to managing tree health across the resort and to planting additional trees annually. Trees form part of the VTI process of safety and are only removed or pollard if deemed unsafe and we plant new trees out on the course to impact any losses.
Reducing waste and water management
We have a fantastic waste segregation system which means we send zero waste to landfill. Our system allows all waste to be separated so materials can be recycled and disposed of correctly. In 2022, we recycled 46 tons of cardboard, 110,175 tons of glass and 151.95 tons of food waste. We are in the process of introducing a new waste system around the Resort which will include new internal and external bins, improved signage, and training for all staff.
Our Waste management system filters waste water, enabling the used water to return to the resort’s reservoirs and lakes, or to be sprayed directly onto the golf courses. Our new car park allows water to drain and soak through to the waterways to ensure any water doesn’t get lost and can be reused. The Brabazon golf course operates an irrigation system whereby rainwater is collected in our reservoirs and used to water the golf course. In 2022, we introduced waterless urinals which reduces our water usage and, by implication, our site’s carbon footprint. We are one of the very few golf courses in the UK where every single drop of water used on our turf has been recycled and reused on site.
Protecting and encouraging wildlife
Our resort is home to a diverse range of wildlife from birds, bats, and barn owls to snakes, badgers, foxes, and otters, and protecting them is a cause very close to my heart. My team and I plant and maintain a range of plants, flowers and trees and use leaf litter and tree felling to create habitats and encourage wildlife and biodiversity. Any waste which cannot be used will be recycled as compost.
We have multiple bird and bat boxes throughout our golf courses and surrounding areas to provide a safe space for these animals to lay and help raise their young. We have created bug and bee hotels and log piles which create a lovely home for insects, and also help teach our younger guests all about the importance of wildlife and their natural habitats during their visit with us.
We are home to a family of swans who have been at the resort for ten years now, and we work with the Barn Owl Trust to house the owls which can be found around the resort’s grounds. We have eight hives on site which are home to over 100,000 honey and bumble bees. We provide the bees with a strong base to feed on seasonal flowers throughout the year and spread pollen throughout the area. The honey is used by our chefs who feature it in dishes across our menus, and our own signature gin, 1960. The gin is a delicious and distinct blend of home-grown botanicals and flowery notes and includes honey from the ‘Belfry Bees’.
Golf courses do not need to be too manicured, so we don’t cut certain areas as not to disturb habitats. We have naturalised parts of the courses, especially on the PGA course, where we let the grass grow high making it a great place for wildlife to thrive.
Reducing our carbon footprint
We are always looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Right now, we are implementing ways to reduce the need for fossil fuels. We have introduced electric vehicles, including electric golf buggies, across our Resort. This includes the vehicles for the housekeeping, maintenance and greenkeeping teams, and we plan to continue adding more.
We are curating a herb garden which will be growing organic herbs for our chefs to use in the food as well as cocktails in the Brabazon bar. Next, we will be looking at electric methods of cutting turf rather than petrol.
We work with local businesses wherever possible and ensure our suppliers and partners all share a strong environmental responsibility, like us. Together, we are helping to create a greener future and positive impact as we continue to develop innovative ideas to protect our environment and place sustainability at the heart of everything we do.