11 Oct 2023
Role of Developments in Restoring Nature
Since its conception, there has been a special relationship between golf and nature. In the very early days, there was no formality to a golf hole other than there being a hole in the ground that people played to. Golf was played along convenient corridors on the land shaped by time, the weather, and the creatures on it. It is safe to say that golf, in its purest essence, has always sat quietly on the land.
As one of the only sports in the world that is played on an amorphous field (not a stadium or a level field), the entire industry has an opportunity to protect the land. At every stage of a golf course’s life, there are opportunities to enhance and protect habitats, species, and the landscape character, but perhaps none more so than when the course is being designed and constructed. This puts the creation of a golf course in a unique position.
Golf course architects (and indeed the entire project team) have a unique opportunity and ability to decide what happens to a piece of land. They have the power to protect, enhance and restore the natural features and habitats that can host a wide variety of biodiversity. But they also have the ability to remove and sterilise these same features. It is for this reason that education about the importance of nature and a healthy native environment is so important.
On brownfield sites, the project can build back the native habitats that would have once dominated the land. Once the native vegetation is in place the native fauna will soon naturally return to the area. On an open green field site, the project must look to protect the integrity and authenticity of the landscape and habitats that are there – and enhancing them in any way that it can.
A golf course development, at the start, has the potential to move in any direction, with any ethos and any end goal. One thing that should remain constant, is the goal to sit quietly on the land and the ethos of protecting and fostering nature. Although time and technology have changed, golf is still the same as it was when it started, the need and stewardship of the land is still there. We should be proud of how connected our sport is to the surrounding natural environment and we should do everything we can to strengthen and celebrate this connection.