It's that time of year again
when we start to remove and thin out the trees on the course.
I am aware this practice remains
a contentious issue amongst some members. Perhaps I can shed a
little light on why the tree work is considered so important for
the development of the course.
The programme of woodland management
at Hopwood has been in place for nine years. It was implemented
after taking advice from a number of independent organisations
with relevant expertise, including English Nature, the Sports
Turf Research Institute, the Forestry Commission, and the eminent
golf course design firm, Hawtree Ltd.
All were agreed that the estate
required a prolonged programme of work to reduce the impact of
self-seeded and non-indigenous species.
Hopwood was never designed to be
a tree-lined parkland course. The site is natural acid grassland
but years of accumulated leaf litter causes the release of nitrogen
which can change the character of the land forever. As the fine
turf dies back, weeds and weed grasses take over. Left unchecked,
the site would be enveloped by scrub oak and birch.
Large numbers of trees have also
been planted in years gone by without proper advice, many of these
being unsuitable for a golfing environment (eg with shallow roots
and/or large leaves growing close to playing surfaces). The recently
removed whitebeams on the 2nd & 17th holes and the sycamore
on the 3rd are prime examples of this.
Another objective of the programme
has been the reinstatement of views across the course. Longstanding
members are now experiencing vistas they thought had been lost
We intend to ensure that the large
out-of-play areas of woodland across the course (adjacent to the
4th, 5th, 7th, 10th, 11th, 12th, and 14th holes) continue to flourish,
as these provide vital habitats/corridors for a wide range of
flora and fauna.
The continued recognition we have
received under the Golf Environment Awards programme offers proof
of our ecological credentials. The Greens Committee hopes that
members will increasingly share the vision.
Mark Jones, Course Manager.