December 6, 2013
Walking the links with Walter
Walter Hagen once remarked golfers should always take time to smell the flowers along the way, so here are some beauties you may have missed.
In Lincolnshire, England a rare bumblebee species, the Bombus ruderatus, has been spotted at Rutland County Golf Club. The club’s head green-keeper, Jamie Goddard, said the discovery highlights the ecological value of golf courses. “Now we can actively manage areas to make them even more attractive for bumblebees and other pollinators alongside a great course for players, makes it even more exciting.”
Maybe too exciting for some; but one of Britain’s leading entomologists, Mike Edwards, is hopeful more golf clubs will help restoring pollinators to the British countryside.
Pollinating insects, especially bees, play a vital role in the world’s ecosystem, particularly for food consumed by humans. It is believed at least one third of all human food comes about following pollination and pollinating insects have been in serious decline over the past two decades.
Edwards has catalogued the diversity of insect species present on numerous British golf courses and identified the habitat potential to increase both the numbers and range of insect species: “While some golf clubs already have areas of outstanding interest for wildlife,” he says, “there remain a large number where the potential to make a real contribution had yet to be realized. If golf clubs were to support restoring flower-rich grasslands in their non-playing areas they could make a major contribution to the conservation of our flora and fauna.”
A view obviously not shared by the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, near London. It opted to build a campsite on its vacant green space, rather than a golf course. Local residents requested the Authority turn a disused pitch-and-putt golf facility in Leyton into a chemical-free nine-hole golf course to attract pollinating insects, such as bees. Instead, the land will be used to attract campers visiting the Olympic Park, three miles away. Campers will pay the Parks people an overnight fee. The bees would have worked for free.
Stapleford Park GC in Leicestershire, UK, has an unusual problem. After investing around seven hundred thousand dollars on high-tech golf course simulators for indoor practice in the winter, the machines can’t be installed, maybe for months. The reason: the building designated to house the simulators was already home to a large colony of bats. Renovation work may only continue when the club convinces the local town council a plan to relocate the mammals has been successful. Headline this one, ‘Bats beat Club!’
In California it’s a pig nightmare, where wild uncontrollable jabalí are invading the Almaden Country Club, San Jose, every night, plowing up the course in search of insects. To prevent these large hairy hogs from wreaking havoc, crews have put up fences, treated the grass with chemicals and sealed off one of the routes the pigs take from the Quicksilver Mountains to the course. A sign at the 3rd hole depicts the gravity of Almaden’s problem: “Green unplayable due to pigs. Please use temporary green in fairway.”