Some out of play areas on the New course at St Andrews will have a different look from now on, after extensive removal of gorse and the creation of exposed sand areas in its place.
“We have worked on the area between holes eleven and twelve, holes six and seven and a small area to the right of the seventh,” said Graeme Taylor, course manager for the New and Jubilee courses. “These areas were until recently covered in gorse, but that was cut down as per our gorse management plan.”
Taylor told GCA that the reason for converting the gorse areas back to exposed sand was primarily ecological. “Bob Taylor, our ecologist from the Sports Turf Research Institute, actaully first suggested the exposed sand areas back in 2005,” he explained. “Bob explained that exposed sand was a habitat common to linksland and was ecologically important. We tried a few areas then, but nothing like the scale of what we are now doing. Bob visited us again after last year’s Open, and again suggested that creating open sand areas would be very beneficial ecologically, restore natural habitats, and be an interesting feature to otherwise scruffy areas.”
Other links courses, such as Royal Troon, Royal Porthcawl and Turnberry, have also recently embraced the idea of exposed sand areas for ecological reasons. Taylor said that the decision to move forward with the work on the New was confirmed after a visit to Turnberry. “We approached Martin Ebert who designed the open sand areas to Turnberry and asked him to come up with some proposals for the New,” he said. “We had a site visit and discussed our plans, Martin went away then came up with the drawings which were given to committee for approval. The plans drawn up by Martin not only included this year’s work but also future areas we could tackle. These include a large area to the rear of the third green and a huge area to the rear of the eleventh . Both these locations are out of play, and currently covered in gorse. We will be looking at clearing the gorse this year in preparation of creating the open sand areas next autumn/winter.”
Shapers from SOL Golf carried out the work, with St Andrews Links Trust staff assisting.