St Enodoc Golf Club has embarked on a five year ecological management plan to return both its championship Church Course and Holywell Course back to a biodiverse landscape that will benefit both nature and the game of golf. It will also better reflect the terrain on which the course was originally established 130 years ago.
Home to one of England’s finest championship golf layouts, the club has already spent the last few years working alongside Natural England to get rid of the scrub plant species that had inveigled their way onto both courses over the years and had come to dominate where there has previously been a lack of management or disturbance. The removal of these species will allow fescue and other natural grasses to make a return to the land that will then attract the proliferation of fauna that thrive in this habitat.
A programme of dune restoration, for example, has been undertaken with Natural England to reinstate the more natural links landscape that James Braid would have come across when he designed St Enodoc back in 1890. “By undertaking this ecological plan, the club is committed to ripping out the scrub plant species such as ivy, buckthorn and gorse, and even trees, that have encroached on the land where are two courses are set in order to allow it to return to its original state,” said Simon Greatorex, General Manager of St Enodoc.
As part of the course makeover, St Enodoc has taken advice from agronomist and golf course advisor, Chris Haspell, who has wide experience in constructing golf courses that sit naturally in their environment. Mr Haspell is probably best known for his work at the world top 100 Castle Stuart Golf Links in the Highlands of Scotland which has hosted four Scottish Opens under his leadership while his consultancy work has taken him all over Europe and North America. Mr Haspell has worked for the Danish Golf Union providing advice to government on sustainable design and management and has also been involved with The R&A golf course committee in the past so he was wellplaced to advise St Enodoc on the way forward. “The goal is to firm surfaces whilst reducing inputs of water, chemicals and fertilizers,” explained Mr Haspell. “Maintaining good quality surfaces throughout the course is crucial to the success of any golf course and, coupled with the ecology plan, we can keep the course fun and engaging whilst improving the environmental responsibilities for the members and guests and, importantly, in the community.”
In tandem with guidance from Mr Haspell, St Enodoc has been in consultation with Rowan Rumball of STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute) who late last year produced ecological management plans for the next five years for both the Church and the Holywell Courses, which will be reviewed by Rumball on an annual basis. “The purpose of the ecological management plans is to preserve the biosphere found through the two courses, maximising the ecosystem services they provide and ensuring vegetation encroachment does not degrade the play of golf through them. This will preserve the links golf course “feel” that has helped elevate links courses to the worldwide renown they enjoy today,” explained Mr Rumball. As part of the programme, the club has eradicated a number of non-native trees such as the leylandii that have been taken out from the edge of the 18th green and the area formed into a species-rich sand scrape, whilst a willow tree in the pond at the 15th has been removed for health and safety reasons and to improve the views on this hole. At the same time, a nearby water course was cleaned out between the 15th and 5th holes to aid biodiversity. In addition, tamarisk hedging behind the 11th green has been removed to give it more light and to protect it from the roots that were spreading themselves underneath the green and affecting the grass. This has been replaced with dunes and marram grass which thrives when exposed to moving sand, wind and salt spray. In time, the various changes to the courses’ flora will see a return of the fauna such as reptiles, spiders and moths associated with links ground to the restored habitat.
The press release above has also been published in
The Independent on Sunday
The Cornish Guardian