Corhampton chalks up Syngenta Operation Pollinator Award

Corhampton Golf Club is winner of Syngenta Operation Pollinator Award 2023

Corhampton Golf Club has won the prestigious Syngenta Operation Pollinator Award for the second time.

Iestyn Carpenter, Corhampton Golf Course Superintendent and his team, were recognised at the Golf Environment Awards (GEA); which took place at the BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition (BTME) in Harrogate last week.

The award celebrates golf clubs that establish and manage areas of pollen and nectar-rich wildflower habitats, creating essential food and nesting resources for pollinators, including native bees, butterflies and insects.

Judges were impressed by Corhampton’s long-term transformation of chalk scrapes into butterfly habitats, including the rare Small Blue, which has established a thriving population on the downland course.

Corhampton is located in the South Downs National Park, part of a 110km chalk escarpment joining the English counties of Hampshire and East Sussex. 

Carpenter told Syngenta Golf that forming a volunteer ecology group, made up of interested members, was crucial to the club’s success.

The volunteers track and survey butterfly populations annually and contribute the findings to the Hampshire Butterfly Conservation program.

The group also successfully applied for and won £4,000 in grant funding to purchase wildflower seeds.

“Winning the Operation Pollinator Award has been a game changer for us, it really has. It’s enabled us to spread the word, win the support of the membership and apply for even more funding to invest back into ecology. It’s even better second time around and now it’s onwards and upwards; we’re able to do so much more now because of this award,” said Carpenter.

Iestyn Carpenter of Corhampton Golf Club

Carpenter has managed the estate at Corhampton for 13 years and described the habitat cultivation as ‘a slow burner’ and requiring ‘incredible patience.’  One chalk scrape took seven years before enough kidney vetch flowered to sustain butterflies.

Species sighted there include Silver Washed, Dark Green Fritilleries, Marbled Whites, Clouded Yellows, Red Admirals, Painted Ladies and the Small, Common and Holly Blues.

Corhampton won the Syngenta Operation Pollinator Award in 2019 and was a finalist in 2022.

This year’s finalists were:

  • Huntercombe Golf Club, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
  • Goring and Streatley Golf Club, Streatley, Berkshire
  • Bamburgh Castle Golf Club, Bamburgh, Northumberland

STRI ecologist and lead for the GEA, Megan Stone, said; "It’s fundamentally important for golf courses worldwide to assess what they can do to achieve environmental sustainability, protecting and encouraging habitats and biodiversity, while continuing to maximise the enjoyment of golf."

"Since STRI Group launched the Golf Environment Awards (GEAs) in 1995, the aim has been to recognise, reward and promote outstanding individuals and golf courses, no matter how big or small, for the time and effort they put into protecting and preserving their unique surroundings," she added. 

Corhampton will receive a grant to help fund new ecological and environmental projects and will be entered into the Foundation Award in Amenity Horticulture Course.

Other winners at the STRI Golf Environment Awards included:

Ecological Project of the Year

  • St. Andrews Links Trust

Conservation Greenkeeper of the Year

  • Sleaford Golf Club

Sustainable Project of the Year

  • Hever Castle Golf Club

International Environmental Golf Course

  • Al Mouj (Oman)

UK Environmental Golf Course of the Year

  • Nairn Dunbar Golf Links

Get involved: Find out more about Operation Pollinator.