A fair way for golfers
ETHICAL TRAVELLER: FOR SOME PEOPLE golf is the reason for getting up in the morning. Most are unaware, however, that golf holidays are one of the most damaging forms of tourism.
There is no sugar-coating it, I’m afraid. In many parts of the world where resorts boast of having 18 heavenly holes, others campaign to stop vast amounts of herbicides, pesticides and contaminated water seeping into the natural environment.
In the Far East, farmers fight for compensation after being displaced in the name of the game.
And then there is the wider water issue. Last year, in Spain and Portugal, water was being shipped in to supply local people while sprinklers were still in action to keep the golfers coming. In Cyprus water is shipped in from Greece, yet construction on 14 golf courses continues. These courses will suck up about 30 million cubic metres of water a year, compared with the population’s drinking-water needs of 85 million cubic metres. The new courses will take supplies from desalination plants, enabling them to use seawater, but this process requires vast amounts of energy, and still fundamentally provides water to tourists before it does to the people who live there.
And golf tourism is growing. Worldwide it is a €12 billion industry. The International Association of Golf Tour Operators, set up in 1997, now represents more than 1,000 companies. At a recent conference on making golf greener, it was clear that money was its priority, stating that businesses “need economic success first, and can then aim for environmental sustainability”.
Mexico had 50 golf courses 10 years ago; today it has 200. Manuel Diaz Cebrian of the Mexican Tourist Board also talks about the power of the golf dollar. “In Mexico, golf is very elitist, associated with tourism only, not sport,” he says.
In similar emerging and developing countries golf proliferates a form of tourism where tourists are viewed as neocolonialists rather than as welcome guests, creating dissatisfaction locally and even causing social harm.
Some organisations are trying to address these issues. The RA, based in St Andrews, Scotland, is the sport’s international governing body, with an advisory team committed to creating sustainable courses. It promotes the use of grass turf suitable to the local climate, water conservation, and limited use of chemicals. Although the scheme is still in its embryonic stage, you can read more at bestcourseforgolf.org. And the rapidly growing Golf Environment Organisation (golfenvironment.org), or Geo, has created an international green golf certification scheme, working closely with the likes of the Ryder Cup and Gleneagles. Its criteria are not only environmental but also take into consideration social effects. Clubs like La Pinetina in Italy, Ljunghusen in Sweden, and Golfbaan de Rottebergen in the Netherlands already have Geo certificates in their clubhouses.
One thing Geo is passionate about is changing the way we perceive golf. A hundred years ago courses were natural, made with heather, bracken, sand or whatever was indigenous.
In Ireland a good example today is Highfield Golf Country Club (highfield-golf.ie), created by the Duggan family on their farmland in Co Kildare. It was built on natural terrain rather than sand-based greens, resulting in minimal invasion of the soil, and few or no chemicals to maintain them. And any unused spaces have been left “wild”, allowing the local ecosystem to thrive. Now that’s what I call a fair way.
People In Focus- Phil Duggan
The Face Behind Highfield Golf Club By Louise Coghlan (Offaly Topic)
Phil Duggan, a lady who is well known to much of the golfing population locally as well as across the country and truly a living legend. I met with Phil in her lovely office on the top floor of Highfield Golf Club and as we looked out onto the beautiful sights that stretched out in front of us, I quickly realised what great presence I sat in.
Phil a native of Kill, county Kildare and a daughter of seven children grew up in a house that always regarded the family unit as a number one priority and it is this very deeply rooted value that Phil has very evidently brought along with her into the Duggan clan. The golf club itself was not something that Phil had planned on venturing into but rather fell into in many regards. It was after the sudden and tragic loss of her husband Dennis in 1989 that Phil was left with a young family of six children as well as a huge farm to maintain that a judgement had to be made on how they could keep an income in action. As Phil stated herself “the golf club was something we just decided to do. The Farm wasn’t working out so we just said to ourselves, what else do we know? And it was then we decided golf was the next best option. It was my son Alan who designed the whole golf course and all the buildings that you see when you enter Highfield. It was a real family effort and we really pulled together to make Highfield what it is today.” The more I spoke to Phil, the more I could see the huge importance family plays in her life and in the ethos of Highfield. Highfield is indeed laid in foundations of love, passion and of course a farming tradition and it is this that brought about it’s existence. Phil’s six children Ciaran, Mary, Alan, Maura, Angela and Dennis are an extremely important part of Phil’s life and without doubt are a driving force in her optimistic outlook. Phil is a very active lady and her passion for golf has brought her all around the world. But it wasn’t until a very sad moment when Phil found out her brother in Australia was very sick that she ventured outside of Ireland and travelled to her brothers home to visit him. She hadn’t seen her brother in nineteen years and it was a very sad trip, ‘My brother passed away soon after and it was a very sad time for us. But something that came from that trip was I got to know my brothers family very well and we became very close. I’ve been over a few times now and they even held one of the children’s christenings while we were there as well, it was really lovely.”
In talking about Highfield, Phil is definitely a lady who loves life and loves what the golf club has become, ‘When we started the club, golfing was very expensive and that was something we wanted to change. Golf was very popular in the Dublin area and we decided to make our club affordable to all while still providing a top class service. The way we looked at it was that if it didn’t work out, we still had a field and there is lots you can to do with a field. It was in 1992 that we started Highfield and I remember well our very first meeting in Enfield whereby we gained our first members. I spoke at that meeting explaining how my husband Dennis had passed away and how he had been heavily involved in golf and our plans for Highfield. From there things just seemed to take off.” And it was indeed from there, that this great golf course grew from strength to strength. At present, Highfield is a top class eighteen hole course with a fully fledged driving range, golf shop, a very cosy and intimate bar and food area, ten self catering lodges, tennis courts and also even a gym if you feel like an extra work out. To add to Phil’s great friendship with many of the locals, a longlasting relationship has been cemented with Edenderry Golf club through a much recognised and loved competition named in memory of her husband Dennis Duggan. Phil’s passion for golf is something that didn’t just begin when she opened Highfield “Myself and my husband Dennis actually started playing golf together. Dennis absolutely loved it and got very involved in Edenderry Golf Club. He started up an interclub competition for anyone over the age of fifty and it is to this day his competition is played, with the Dennis Duggan Cup up for grabs every year. It was funny really. My mother-in-law was not really happy with me playing. It was rare for a farmer’s wife to be playing golf but in so many ways I gained my own identity from it. I was no longer a farmers wife, I was Phil the golfer. I loved it.”
There is so much to Phil Duggan and no way could I ever fit it all in here but as I said to Phil, maybe someday we will write a book. This woman really has so many tales to tell and she is a lady of elegancy with a huge capacity of warmth while oozing a very loveable mothers charm. My time spent with Phil was memorable and I’ve no doubt I will visit Highfield again just to meet with the very friendly family and staff that run Highfield. It was built on love and family and to this day you are met with that the minute you walk in the door and without doubt there is something special about this golf course. For those of you who don’t know Phil, she is a living legend and a beautiful lady both inside and out and for those of you who know her, what a pleasure that must be. Her welcome to me into Highfield, I will never forget and for sure that warmth is something that defines her as her natural approach to sharing what she has is clearly what she is all about.
Ace sets up Duggan for Highfield prize
A HOLE in one can go a long way to helping your scorecard. And that was certainly the case last Sunday week when Highfield held their vice-captain’s prize. Avril Duggan – playing off a handicap of 28 – had double reason to celebrate at the end of the day. Not only was she a comfortable winner of the competition with 43 points but she also marked the occasion with an ace on the 120-yard third hole, helping her to a three-point victory overNoraWalsh (14).
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From Bullmers Fulltime Website:
“……..And, if you look, it is possible to find value for money not too far out of Dublin. Nowhere perhaps is this more true than in the case of Highfield Golf Club in Carbury, Co Kildare. Just over half an hour’s drive (mostly on motorway) from the M50 junction at Liffey Valley, the family-run Highfield club offers full seven-day membership is available at really attractive rates. Five-day membership is available too in special deals! Click here for more info.
Alan Duggan, the owner of Highfield, and the designer of the course, explained that his philosophy is “to make the golfing experience as pleasant as we can . . . a lot of people, many playing society golf, can’t afford to get into bigger clubs. What we’ve attempted to do is to take the elitist side out of golf, to make it as family orientated as we can.”
To that end, a brand new Canadian Cedar Wood clubhouse has been constructed at Highfield with the design also including a barbecue area – fittingly called the Lumberjack Steakhouse – so that members are encouraged to bring their families to make the golfing experience a true day out. The clubhouse is beautifully crafted and required some 900 trees in its construction.
“We believe we’ve a good package to offer. Although we’ve plenty of mature trees on the course, it is short enough, not too hilly and designed so that most people will enjoy playing it. We’ve a healthy club environment and, basically, offer a good package at an affordable price and that is the way we intend to keep it,” added Duggan.
So, the bottom line is that affordable golf is still available for those who want to play the game without having to break the bank to do so.”
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