St Enodoc Golf Club in north Cornwall, England 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 and better reflect the terrain on which the course was originally established over 100 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 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.
Ribbing out the scrub
Simon Greatorex, general manager of St Enodoc, comments:
“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,”
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.
Haspell is probably best known for his work at the Castle Stuart Golf Links in the Highlands of Scotland, and has been involved with The R&A golf course committee. He was well-placed to advise St Enodoc on the way forward:
“The goal is to firm surfaces whilst reducing inputs of water, chemicals and fertilizers,” explains 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 Haspell, St Enodoc has been in consultation with Rowan Rumball of STRI. They have 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.
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, concludes Rumball:
“Over the last few years, I have worked with over 100 golf courses in order to restore native flora and fauna back into the rough as golf courses have the potential to be fantastic for nature and golf simultaneously; the golf is improved by playing through a natural area while the management of golf courses in natural areas helps promote wildlife and habitats. It is a balanced beneficial relationship that unfortunately is not always seen within our country’s protected areas, where funds restrict the capabilities of management,” .
By 2024, St Enodoc will have carried out eight years of conservation and sustainable coastal dune management on its two courses which it regards as good husbandry of the land.
Read more: St Enodoc Golf Club