West Malling Golf Club

Operation Pollination

With the ever-increasing spotlight on environmental matters, it is important for all golf courses to assess what they can do to protect and enhance the environment and continue to maximise the enjoyment of golf.

The Golf Environment Awards are managed and administered by STRI and each entry is independently judged, not on the scale of project or financial investment, but on what the golf course has achieved and how it has benefited the environment.

We were delighted to have reached the top 4 finalists in the UK in 2016 and although we were runners up we are seeking to improve and implement more environmental changes.

We are pleased to be involved in Operation Pollinator - an exciting new initiative to help restore the plight of the Bumblebee and other crucial pollinating insects.

Over the coming seasons we will be establishing and managing areas of pollen and nectar rich wildflower habitat that will provide essential food resources and nesting habitats for pollinators, including native bees, butterflies and other insects.

The selected native wildflowers will also provide new visual features and, we hope, will give added interest to your round of golf from the environmental diversity it will support.   

The project intends to start with relatively small areas, to learn the techniques and develop a system that works effectively for us. We are being supported by Syngenta and ecology and environmental specialists from the STRI.

2016 Runners-Up
Environmental Project of the Year.
West Malling Golf Club 

Why are we involved?

Pollinating bees are an essential part of the natural ecosystem, for pollination of food crops and to maintain ecological biodiversity. Bumblebee numbers have declined over recent years due to loss of habitat, with some UK species now on the verge of extinction.

Golf courses provide outstanding potential to create essential habitat and food sources for a range of native bees and pollinating insects.

Involvement with Operation Pollinator generates new opportunities for our club and immense pride for players in our course.

Nationally, Operation Pollinator is seeking to establish 250 hectare of specific new habitat on up to 500 golf courses across the UK – creating a significant ecological resource and proving that golf and the environment can be effectively managed on the same course.

Because we can make a difference. Independent research trials have shown creation of even small areas of dedicated habitat can significantly increase the numbers of pollinating insects. With your support we can make that difference count.

What is involved, and what will you see?

In the first instance we will identify areas suitable for Operation Pollinator habitat creation. We need to establish what environmental features we have, so as not to disturb already valuable areas. Our aim is to target new habitat creation to bring to life areas of low ecological value. We will also assess what techniques will be most appropriate for wildflower establishment.

In the autumn designated areas will be cut back, as we would normally do. Patches with thick Ryegrasses may be sprayed with a selective herbicide, Rescue, to remove those aggressive grasses and allow less competitive Fescue, Bentgrass and other fine grass species to thrive and create the right environment in which to establish wild flowers.

The Operation Pollinator area/s will then be intensively scarified to expose some bare earth, to sow the selected wildflower seed. The grasses will also grow back, although we may also choose to use a growth regulator on the grasses to hold back competition and try and allow the wildflower seedlings to establish strongly before the winter.

Future management should involve an annual cut of the wildflower area in early autumn, after the bird nesting period and once seed has set and been released, with the possible need for further scarification to encourage more wildflowers. If dominant coarse grasses begin to encroach on the wildflowers, further Rescue application may be required, but will only be used in assessed situations. 

Future actions

We hope that you agree that Operation Pollinator is a very worthwhile project for us to be involved with and to develop in the future as part of our environmental and ecological management. The aim is that it will add an extra level of interest and pride in playing our course.

The greenkeeping team and club management would welcome any feedback and further ideas that you have to add to the value we can deliver with our environmental projects.

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