The Knutsford Golf Club commissioned an ecological and environmental assessment during June 2021 to provide greater insight into the Club’s ecological conditions, and provide the Greenstaff with an easy to follow plan to improve the flora and fauna quality. Undertaken by James Hutchinson of the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA), the report highlights the club’s strengths and key areas of focus for the coming three years.
The Club’s vision is to incorporate more native nature, to achieve a more natural feel to the golf course, and encourage members to engage with the wonderful wildlife present at the Club. Benefits to members include a more enjoyable round of golf, enhanced quality of the environment and efficient management of resources.
Distinct attention is given to important issues such as veteran and ancient trees, rough management, copses and woodlands, and protected fauna such as bats which are believed to be present on the course.
The full report details the assessment and suggestions for ecological management of each hole, here are some of the key findings:
- The Rhododendron to the right of the tee at hole 1 and other areas on the course is recommended to be removed as it neutralises soil to a point where few other species can live there, and its use to pollinators is minimal due to its short-lived flowers (3-4 weeks).
- The giant oak to the rear of the green at hole 2 is approximately 200 years old, oak trees can grow to a little over 1000 years so this is still a juvenile.
- Recommendations are made to remove the invasive Himalayan balsam without destructing the desirable native species.
- Nuthatches, treecreepers, woodpeckers and members of the tit family were spotted around the teeing area of hole 4.
- The Club may consider reinstating heathland areas where it had previously grown, to benefit frog and toad species, and encourage RSPB Red List birds such as yellowhammer and linnet.
- A wood white butterfly was spotted on the left-hand side of the 3rd hole, this butterfly’s conservation status is ‘High’, and Knutsford Golf Club’s commendable efforts to retain long grasses and woodlands is the likely reason for this fragile butterfly’s appearance.
Overall, the Knutsford Golf Club is home to a diverse selection of flora and fauna, and applying the recommendations presented in the report will ensure the protection of the grounds for its members and wildlife for many years to come.
The Club plans to introduce a wildlife sightings book in the clubhouse for members and guests to fill in, if you are a budding naturalist then be sure to keep an eye out on your next visit and record what you find.