06 November 2023

How We Are Embracing Sustainability With The Redesign Of The Apes Hill Barbados Golf Course 

‘Nature positive is a disruptive idea. It forces us to think differently about our place in the world ... it is a new business model based on regeneration, resilience and recirculation.’ (D Waughray)

When we designed Apes Hill Barbados, we wanted to change the perception of golf courses and their impact on the environment. 


More often than not, golf courses are environmentally expensive to design and maintain with insufficient thought given to land and water usage and the displacement of animals. Chemical pesticides and fertilisers leach into rivers and ponds, devastating ecosystems in a short amount of time.


But it doesn’t have to be that way. 


Incorporating leading eco-forward developments, at Apes Hill we are showing how golf courses can work in a way that protects and enhances the environment through nature-positive solutions. 

It  is not just about minimising our human impact on the environment, but going one step further and enhancing our natural ecosystems. That’s why our golf course is unlike any others you may have experienced–built around an ecosystem of chattering monkeys, towering fruit trees, fluttering butterflies and flowers of vivid hues.




Golf Course Design That Embraces and Elevates Barbados’ Surrounding Wildlife and Ecosystems

Societal awareness and care towards our environment has skyrocketed in the last decade, alongside an increase in responsibilities placed on organisations to uplift and protect the natural world we live in. 

We could not agree more with this growing sentiment. 


It is not for us to disturb the populations of wildlife that already exist. So we built an elevated golf community with a commitment  not only to preserve Bajan biodiversity, but also to improve and sustain it. 


Spanning 470 acres in St James, a key focus in Apes Hill's redesign has been biodiversity. Our redesign prioritises the preservation of local ecosystems and trees while innovatively crafting new habitats through landscaping to enrich the area's inherent beauty. Read more about the nature on our golf course here.




Apes Hill’s Sustainable Bioswale Water Management System

Golf courses are thirsty. An 18-hole golf course can use up anything from 40,000-300,000 litres of water per day (The Times, 2019). 


But at Apes Hill Barbados we’re showing that it doesn’t have to be the case. We’re the only golf course in Barbados that uses a Bioswale water management system, and it’s puzzling to us as to why other courses don’t. 


In short, a bioswale system channels stormwater into a trough, reducing runoff, removing contamination and increasing water absorption. It is fully digitalised and everything about our golf course, from pressure levels to water usage, is monitored. As a result, only water that is needed is used and we’re proving that golf courses don’t need to drain community water supplies or use up groundwater to exist.


And we are going one step further with our artificial lake, showing how golf courses can be nature positive, too. Rainwater is harvested for upcoming irrigation - no water is taken from the desalination plant, no water is taken from the community.


It’s one step in the right direction to not only minimising the negative environmental impact of golf courses, but also in enhancing the environment and its natural water processes.




Zorro Zoysia: A Green Revolution in Golf Course Turf

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water that golf greens use each day, typical golf grass requires harmful pesticides and fertilisers which seeps into groundwater and residing ecosystems.


Our expert agronomist chose Zorro Zoysia grass for the golf course, a variety of Zoysia grass that demands the least water and is drought-tolerant. It’s suited perfectly for the Barbados environment, being robust, insect-resistant, and flourishes naturally. This choice has enabled us to cut down our sprinkler count by about 44%, fostering a more sustainable golf course. Read more about our choice of Zorro Zoysia here.


During our redesign of Apes Hill Barbados, we also reduced the bunker count. Bunkers often need additional water to compact the sand, keep the turf borders healthy as golfers entering and exiting the bunkers wear it down, and to facilitate water flow over the course. Thus, another way in which we have ensured substantial water savings without compromising the grass's health.


To feed the grass, we've pivoted to environmentally friendly solutions, crafting fertilisers from ingredients like seaweed, chicken manure, and composted food. 


The result? No difference in the quality of play, the grass is as vibrant as ever, and none of our residing insects, existing plants or wildlife are harmed.  It’s a win-win. In fact, our golf courses not only protect Bajan biodiversity, but also work to enhance and improve their longevity. Have a read about how we at Apes Hill sustain a relationship between bee conservation and golf.




Is Eco-Friendly The Future Of Golf Course Design?

Our redesign has helped us achieve the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary for Golf Certification. This measures and verifies our sustainability efforts against six focus areas: Site Assessment & Environmental Planning, Wildlife Habitat Management, Water Conservation, Water Quality, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Outreach and Education. 


But we won’t rest on our laurels. We’re always looking to deepen our commitment to sustainable golf course design. To that end, we are building a solar energy farm, and have committed to becoming power neutral within the first 3 years of opening. Keep checking back on our blog or follow us on Instagram to get the latest. 


At Apes Hill, we are building something that is here forever. We’re far from finished, but we’re one step ahead. 


Want to learn more? Read about the 10 wonders of nature you can find on our golf course and about how we’re building a community rooted in sustainability at Apes Hill.



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