Over the years, the Golf Club, as a responsible landowner, has commissioned various technical and scientific reports. These have been in the form of expert Agronomic advice for the golf course itself, which also included the heathland and woodland areas. Specialist Woodland management programmes have also been undertaken which are detailed elsewhere in conjunction with the Forestry Commission and Natural England. Specific Ecological Reports have also been commissioned in recent times on three occasions, and soon to be a fourth.
The last two have been undertaken by Thurlow Countryside Management (TCM) who were major consultants to the 2012 Olympic Games Project. Their advice was sought in conjunction with two proposed development projects, both of which were centred in and around the overflow car park area to the north of Southview Road.
A much earlier report, on the golf course and common as a whole, was completed by Marion Finch in 1989, a copy of which is contained within the TCM report as an appendix.
In 2013 the Golf Club appointed Mike Edwards to provide a comprehensive Ecological appraisal of the entire site. Mike has previously worked at the highly regarded West Sussex Golf Club, a golf course on a SSSI in Pulborough and has extensive experience of advising golf clubs in general.
Environment and the Course: The policy of the club with regards to the course is to manage it in a sustainable manner.
Greens: Water is used only to keep the greens alive. The water bill for the course is usually less than £3k a year, which is extraordinarily low by comparison with most other golf clubs. Only 35 to 50 kg of nitrogen fertiliser per hectare per year is applied to the greens. This is also unusually low by comparison. Herbicides are never used on the greens - weeds are controlled by hand. Approved Insecticides are used on the greens only as and when required, usually bi-annually for control of leatherjackets (crane fly larvae) which feed on the turf roots and kill the grass. Approved Fungicides are applied for the control of fusarium patch disease (relatively rare). These approved Fungicides are used sparingly, some greens haven't been sprayed for years, a few of the weaker greens are sprayed once annually.
Tees: Again water is used only to keep the grass alive. Only 50 to 75 kg nitrogen per hectare per year is applied to the tees. Herbicides are applied to the tees once annually and fungicides and insecticides are never applied to the tees.
Green approaches: Water is never applied to the green approaches. Nitrogen is applied to the green approaches at a rate of 25kg per hectare per year. Herbicides, fungicides and insecticides are never applied to the green approaches.
Fairways: Water is never applied to the fairways. Nitrogen is never applied to the fairways as we let the clippings fly. This combined with mechanical aeration and nitrogen in the rainfall equals growth. Furthermore, nitrogen is detrimental to the health of the existing heather and to the regeneration of new heather. Herbicides are never blanket sprayed. Most fairways have never been sprayed, typically we will spray the start of the second fairway and the fourth as excessive worm casting in this area produces an ideal seed bed for weeds to take over. Fungicides are never applied to the fairways. Insecticides are applied as required, typically bi-annually.
The remainder of the course never receives any water, nitrogen, herbicides, fungicides or insecticides, with the exception of the practice ground which was sprayed in 2012 for the first time ever for leatherjacket control. Many areas of grass rough are left to grow long and seed, this is done to provide habitat for insects and invertebrates, which in turn provides food and habitat for many birds and mammals.
Heather: Whilst a lot of heather is cut on a yearly basis after seeding, we do have areas that are not cut whatsoever. Again, these areas are left uncut to provide a different habitat to that of the cut heather. The Club has recently invested almost £30,000 in machinery to give us the ability to embark on an extensive programme of heather regeneration both on the golf course and beyond.
Gorse: The club endeavours to manage the gorse in a manner that benefits wildlife. In accordance with good practice, some areas of gorse are waist high, some head high and some yet higher still. This type of management provides habitat for a variety of different birds and mammals.
Trees: In accordance with our woodland consultants, the club acknowledges that we have too many trees of poor quality. The stand of pine alongside the 15th hole is a prime example which offers very little benefit for wildlife. The Forestry Commission are at the moment chopping down tens of thousands of pine and replanting with hardwoods such as oak, beech, hornbeam and lime. Woods made up of such hardwoods harbour huge amounts of insects and invertebrates which in turn bring in birds and mammals. Go into a large pine wood and all you hear is silence. That said the club removes/prunes/re-plants trees on a yearly basis.