Essex is a formidable and renowned county for golf, solidifying itself within the history and progress of golf. With 80 clubs playing across this diverse landscape, it is the home of world champions and a regular attendee to national level competitions.
The ecological progress and sustainable focus being made by many clubs in Essex made finalising the list a difficult task for the team.
Orsett Golf Club
Orsett Golf Club is a 200-acre heathland based course that was established over 100 years ago. It is unique in that there is a wealth of rare flowers growing naturally across the course (including Autumn Squill, which is usually only found in Devon and Cornwall). The health characteristics of the slightly acidic soil combined with the right biology plan mean that the results are clear to see. This has been achieved, resulting in the grass across the course being predominantly a good blend of bent and fescue, which is of extremely high quality.
Over the last 5 years, there has been an initiative to preserve the heathland and clear areas that were undesirable. Rubbish had got into the bramble and hawthorn and was deterring the wildlife from settling there. A fine balance was required between cleaning and clearing the bramble while retaining natural habitat for wildlife. This has now been achieved, with gorse and broom growing naturally throughout the course, creating natural vistas while being wildlife friendly, with bats, buzzards and even a resident barn-owl living there.
West Essex Golf Club
West Essex Golf Club is a traditional parkland course set right on the border between London and Essex. Look west and you can see The Shard, Wembley Stadium and Canary Wharf, but look to the east and you are struck immediately by the contrasting Essex countryside. We spoke to Paul Kimber their Head Greenskeeper, who gave us insight as to how a course that is so close to London is also a haven for both golfers and wildlife.
Paul and his team put a lot of work into encouraging and retaining as much wildlife as possible on the course. Deer roam there freely but there is also a large variety of birds (including kestrels), pheasants and foxes. Long grass areas have been retained so that grass snakes and amphibians have places to go. A new reservoir has recently been built and there are a lot of woodland areas. It is a joy to see a course that is so close to London being so ecologically aware.