Thursday, 19 May 2016

Course Managers Report

May 2016


The spring so far has seen the course develop well and we have been able to manage playing surfaces through the inconsistencies of the British weather. The greens particularly have remained very firm and well-paced. As I mentioned in my last report it is testament to the work completed over the last ten years that we now do not have to complete disruptive aeration at this time of year and therefore increasing the time we can present good playing conditions.

As we quickly move towards the summer period we will aim to continue to present the golf courses in the best possible condition, your help in repairing pitch marks and raking bunkers goes a long way in achieving our goals.


Greens are now being cut at 4mm our summer height of cut, we aim to predominately use pedestrian mowers on the greens but time and staff resource are limiting during the summer months.

We have recently solid tined the putting surfaces using 8mm diameter tines, completing this in conjunction with the top dressing described below, enables the dressing to be integrated more efficiently and the surface disruption is minimal. This type of aeration is completed on a monthly basis.

Top dressing at this time of year plays an important part of our management of the playing surfaces. Top dressing helps to even out any discrepancies in the surface as a result of indifferent growth or areas recovering from the winter. Our aim is to apply little and often to help integrate the dressing into the surface. The amount applied to the greens during April and May is in the region of 50 tonnes per course. Our target for the year is 180 tonnes per 18 greens. When we apply the dressing to greens we make sure we are over lapping onto collar run offs and apron areas, this helps to improve all of these areas around the green complexes. In one application for 18 greens at this time of  year we are applying 12 tonnes, this amount is easily dispersed into the sward and creates very little disruption to the playing surfaces. The continual process of top dressing improves the firmness of the greens, dilutes any build-up of organic matter within the soil profile and most importantly improves the characteristics of the top soil in which the desired grass species can thrive.

Collars and Aprons

Collars and aprons are currently been cut at 10mm three times per week. The collars and aprons are managed to similar specification as the greens as we are trying to replicate the firmness and playability found on the putting surfaces. This provides an array of shots to be played from around the putting surface the aprons also encourage the running shot into the greens.


We are cutting tees twice per week at 10mm with pedestrian mowers. Once consistent growth has been achieved the cutting intensity with increase along with a reduced height of cut to 8mm. We have top dressed all tees and will be applying more dressing along with seed to winter tees and weaker areas of normal tees to encourage new growth in these areas. All tees have received the first of two summer feeds of an organic based 8.0.0, this will help to encourage recovery from the spring and promote sustained growth.


Over the last week we have experienced some good growth on the fairways are as a consequence we are able to present them in a improved fashion. The fairways are cut at 14mm twice per week. Localised devoting has been taking place and the Divot evening planned for Thursday 19th  May and Tuesday 7th June will help enormously to get all fairways devoted during good growing conditions.

Machinery Maintenance

I am very pleased to report we have employed a mechanic to look after our machinery fleet. For the past six months we have been trying to cope without having a mechanic but this has been very difficult for us placing even more time pressure on our existing staff and also having to spend a large amount on labour from our main dealers for tasks we could not repair in house.

Mark Overton has joined the team and has already had a positive impact on the machinery maintenance. I am confident that mark will be great asset to the club and will help us to achieve our goals here at Enville.

Jonathan Wood

Course manager

Enville Golf Club

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The above picture shows the one of the new bunkers on the 3rd Lodge. These bunkers are currently GUR but in the next week we will be putting sand in and making good so they can be brought back into play.

The last few mornings have been great to get on with work on the course and also take the oppotunity to take some great pictures of the courses.

the greens are currently being cut at 5mm with pedestrian mowers. we aare aiming to get a number of further light dressing on all greens to help with surface trueness.

Enville Golf Club

Course Management

April Report

General Conditions

It has been well recorded that this winter period has been one of the wettest on record and given this fact it is testament to the work completed on the courses which has resulted in the courses standing up very well over this period.

The playing surfaces in the main have remained playable and firm for the majority of the winter period. A focused aeration programme combined with regular topdressing has been instrumental drivers behind the performance of the playing surfaces coupled with other important practices. Creating playing surfaces which can withstand play for the majority of the year has to be a major target for our management of both courses, in an era which is presenting us with very irregular and extreme weather patterns.



We as greenkeepers always dreaded the Masters. Not because we didn`t enjoy watching it as much as the next man, but because we all felt pressure from our members to produce ideal golfing conditions as soon as Augusta came on the television – even though (as far as we were all concerned) it was still the end of winter and nothing was growing. It seems to me though that over recent times, the threat of “Augusta Syndrome” has become a little less overbearing than it used to be and I think this may be due to two things.

Firstly, I think we all start our spring preparation work just a little bit earlier than we used to. I don`t know if this is a subconscious reaction to Augusta Syndrome on our part, or if we are all bowing down under the weight of peer pressure because we don`t want our members to see the greenkeeper down the road getting out of the traps before we do – or maybe the last few winters haven`t ended quite as badly as we thought they had – but we seem to be willing to break out the topdressing and knock down the height of the mowers just a little bit earlier than we used to. Ride-on rollers help too – if an early season roll or two fits into your program and doesn`t cause any residual damage, then what is the harm in giving your members a wee treat around Masters week? We do now roll throughout the winter when conditions allow.

The second reason I think Augusta Syndrome is not as much of an issue as it used to be is because our members get bombarded with golf coverage all year round now. Historically, The Masters was the first televised event of the year to hit our screens, and it got everybody keen for the game again. People who had stashed their clubs under the stairs after the last medal in September rushed to dust them off and get back out there, only to discover that the greens they had left in prime condition when they gave up for the winter – instead of pulling on an extra jumper – had deteriorated through six months of relentless rain and precious little sunlight. It`s changed days now though – we can now turn on Sky Sports (other sports broadcasters are available) any Thursday through Sunday and be entertained by our favorite golfers playing on prime surfaces in exotic locations from Honolulu to Hanoi. The constant drip-feed is diluted in comparison to the one-off hit we used to get from being flung straight up Magnolia Drive after half a year of cold turkey (that`s an addiction reference, not a Christmas one!), and I think it does get us greenkeepers off the hook a bit. It is still the year`s first major, and it is still a fantastic spectacle, but it just doesn`t seem like such a big boot into spring as it used to before we all became utterly spoiled by the widespread coverage emanating from our 50-inch flat screens.


The greens have been performing well throughout the winter period, firmness has been within our required figures and moisture readings have been very good, these two indicators and there results are especially good given the volume of rain we have experienced over the winter period. There has been some real positive comments with regard to the condition of the greens over the past two months, obviously this is great feedback but with the good performance figures we are seeing and the positive feedback from golfers there has to be a reason and I will attempt to explain.

As you are aware we aim to create good playing conditions for as long as possible throughout the year. To achieve this we have over the last eight years focused our attentions to the playability and effectiveness of the root-zone to achieve our goals. With focused aeration and regular top dressing we have a soil profile on the majority of greens which effectively move water away from the surface keeping the greens firm during rainfall. With our aeration programme we have also reduced our organic matter content to a level which again allows a correctly struck ball into the greens to pitch roll forward and stop along with maintaining firm surfaces. Organic matter (thatch) can massively affect the performance of the playing surface. By completing regular aeration to varying depths, top dressing regularly, only applying feed which is necessary to achieve good growing conditions and adopting an austere approach to irrigation application we have reduced our organic matter on our greens. This in turn now allows us to be more flexible and less aggressive with our aeration, this year will be the first year for 10 years that the courses will not be closed for aeration work in the spring and autumn, we can now complete the required aeration and over-seeding works with less disturbance to the playing calendar, I believe this to be a very positive step. In conjunction with all the above this type of management creates the best environment for the finer grasses to flourish so with over-seeding to supplement the natural transition we seeing improved populations of the finer grasses and reducing the percentages of the less desirable weed species such as annual meadow grass. These finer grasses will enable us to present more consistent and prolonged conditions and require less disruptive and expensive maintenance regimes.

Our current height of cut is 5mm and this will be reduced over the coming weeks once we see some consistent growth and a thickening up of the sward. We are mowing 2-3 times per week and rolling twice. Again, the intensity of mowing will increase once we see sufficient growth. Collars and Aprons are currently cut at 10mm.

This week (beginning Monday 4th April) we have applied our second Lawn sand to the greens at 20gms/m², this slowly feeds the turf but does not encourage too much top growth it also works very well at low soil temperatures which can often occur during this time of year. We have also continued with our spring aeration in the form of 10mm solid tines, this coupled with a light topdressing and a roll reinstate the surfaces back to normal with very little disruption to play. The topdressing at this time of year helps to level the surfaces out with the added bonus of improving the root-zone over the longer period. The monthly solid tinning will continue but as we come into the main playing season we move to an 8mm tine.  

Over the coming weeks the aim will be to top-dress all aprons, we try and manage the aprons as closely to the prescription for the greens so creating surfaces which encourage the running game and varied approach shots into greens.


All tees with the exception of the newly re-turfed tees are being cut with pedestrian mowers at 10mm twice per week. The tees have had two applications of lawn sand which has helped to aid recovery from the winter period; top dressing has also been applied to level surfaces and improve the root-zone.

The intention is to continue with pedestrian mower for as long as possible but once sustained growth has been achieved we will revert back to ride –on mowers to same time.

The newly re-turfed tees will be brought back into play once the turf has established. It is felt that the 11th Highgate white will be back into play very soon but the 3rd lodge tee will be longer as we have only just completed the turfing. For qualifying competitions on the Lodge we will position a mat on the new tee so a measured course can be played. I am hoping we can commence playing form the turf for competitions by the begging of June. The marker stones have also been replaced on the new 3rd tee.


Fairways are currently being cut once per week at 15mm. all fairways have been lighly scarified to remove any debris build up in the surface of the turf. We have started to repair divots in heavily trafficked areas and will complete a full divot over the coming month.

We have achieved our goal of two verti drain (deep solid tine 1”x12”) passes over the winter period on all fairways, this over the years has been a real help in providing fairways dominated with the finer grasses and also being able to withstand very dry periods given the improve root structure.

3rd Lodge – Improvements to the surround.

We are hoping to get the bunkers filled up with sand shortly and if the turf surrounding the bunkers has established a root system then we will be in a position to open them up. We have a great deal of work to get the surrounding turf to a required standard but we will be topdressing and gently feeding the new turf to achieve the standard expected.

The ruts left from the dumper will be repaired over the coming weeks and the path in front of the tee reinstated.

Environmental Management

The annual heather cutting and harvesting of seed was completed back at the start of the winter and we have harvested a considerable amount of seed. This seed will be used on our turf stripped areas to augment the existing seed bank.

The tree felling work completed on behalf of the power suppliers has left some areas around the front nine of Highgate a little exposed from the adjacent road. In my view it gives us a great opportunity to establish our boundary hedges as we now have a more open environment in which a newly planted hedge will establish in. It is my intention to get quotes on planting a new hedge in areas where the existing hedge is non-existent, this will then in the future mature into a new barrier and screen which will have much more longevity and not be treated in the same way as the trees underneath the power cables.

The stump grinder has been book for the week commencing 11th April to tidy up any stumps which have been identified to be a safety concern in the rough areas.

Further information.

Gordon Irvine will be visiting the Club on 25th and 26th April 2016, if you have any questions or information you would like clarification on please email me with them or come and meet up with Gordon during his visit.

Jonathan Wood

Courses Manager


Friday, 6 February 2015

Enville Golf Club Course Management Update

January and February so far have been productive months on both courses with maintenance progressing well.

The winter aeration programme has continued with weekly slit tining and sorrel rolling, the combination of both of these practices presents great aeration of the soil profile with little disruption to the surface. In fact once the greens have been pedestrian cut or rolled after the aeration you would struggle to experience any disruption to the putting surface, however, the results to the turf and soil are invaluable.
The picture below shows the sorrel roller in action and a good view of the close pattern of the tines, the tines penetrate to a depth of 3cm giving great aeration to the surface.
During this winter period we have for the first time completed winter top dressings. Normally this would be an operation we would complete from early spring through to the end of the summer period. By completing winter top dressing we are continually adding to the root zone and diluting any organic matter build up. this top dressing combined with the aeration mentioned above helps to integrate the dressing into the soil profile. Also the light dressing we apply helps the smoothness and trueness of the surfaces and over the long term improves the free draining nature of the root zone. This process has worked very well and we will be continuing with this through to the spring when conditions are correct. We use a 80/20 mix which is 80% sand and 20% humus rich soil. The humus element also lightly feeds the soil creating a healthy soil, this combined with improving the free draining characteristics of the soil produces the correct environment for the finer grasses and in term surfaces which are playable for the majority of the year. below is a picture of the 3rd green Highgate after dressing, once dry the dressing will be brushed into the surface. the amount we apply at this time of year is around 7 tonnes per 18 greens.

This month we have experienced some very wintry weather with heavy frosts dominating February so far. During this type of weather when we are restricted in the work we can do on the course we take time to renovate the course furniture. All tee balls, 150 markers and litter bins get a bit of a make over.

In my last blog i posted the Environmental Management plans we are working with, again at this time of we we make sure we are on top and on schedule with woodland management and heathland management. it is very important that we embrace and management this very rare site so therefore we place great importance on the management of the environment which makes Enville so special.

When conditions are right we try and keep the course presented as well as possible during the winter months. Greens are cut at least twice per week with pedestrian mowers at 5.5mm, collars and aprons are cut when needed at 10mm and tees are pedestrian cut at 10mm when needed.
On going winter projects this month are as follows: renovation of 9th White tee on Lodge, Drainage to the second half of the 8th fairway Highagte and the construction of three target green on the Practice Area.

Friday, 19 December 2014

The Enville Golf Club Ltd

Golf Course Management

Environment Management Plan

2008 – 2017


1.    Introduction

2.    Description and Background to the site

3.    Objectives

4.    Current Conditions

a.    Heathland
b.    Woodland
c.     Wildlife

5.    Rationale for Management of Work undertaken

6.    Identification of operational objectives, selection of management options and outline prescriptions

1. Introduction

More and more Golf Clubs throughout the country are now realising the importance of maintaining the roughs or “through the green” areas. These form an important part of any golf course but are often neglected with a loss of valuable wildlife habitat and species diversity. The “through the greens” play an important strategic role to golf and are also important from the amenity or visual perspective. Ecologically, these areas represent linear linking systems, allowing wildlife the chance to move and extend their range of distribution through the countryside. Woodland screens, copses, the grasslands (including the heather dominated grasslands such as are a main feature here at Enville) and associated water features, i.e. ditches, etc. all provide very important ecological bridging systems. These areas could be considered analogous to other marginal habitats, i.e. roadside verges and railway embankments, all of which are becoming increasingly important in modern conservation practices.

Add details referring to the importance of golf courses being managed correctly to enhance the wider national and international scale.

2. Description and Background to the site

Enville Golf Club is a 36-hole private members club situated in Staffordshire. The Golf Club is by means of a traditional Committee Structure with a Management Committee overseeing a number of smaller sub committees. The sub committee that governs the management of the golf courses is the greens committee to which the Course Manager reports. The Course Manager is responsible for the daily, weekly, monthly and annual management of the Courses with the environment management falling into his responsibilities. As mentioned on many occasions in this report the environment and its management are placed very high in the overall management of both the courses at Enville. Financial resources are allocated each year for the management of the heathland and the other important environmental areas within the golf courses.

The Course Manager has a team of 10 greenkeepers who are also very aware of the responsibilities placed on them to manage this important site correctly.

The Courses are named Highgate, being the older of the two courses and the Lodge. Both of these courses run through heathland and woodland, with the majority of the heathland being on the Highgate course.

The site is underlain by lower Mottled Soft Red Sandstones of the Bunter series. The soils are typically sandy, well-drained and highly acidic humo-ferric podzols along with brown soils developed from drift deposits. Over a number of areas, a much darker organic- rich layer is in evidence normally lying to a depth of around 15-20mm immediately above the sandier mineral soils.

Preserving the “natural” heathland characteristics must be prime objective at Enville Golf Club. From an ecological viewpoint, the dry heath/acidic grasslands are part of a much wider but rapidly diminishing world resource supporting and helping in the conservation of internationally important bird, insect and other wildlife species. On a more local level, Enville Golf Club is by its presence helping to conserve one of the very few remaining heathland sites throughout Staffordshire and the West Midlands.

Enville Golf Course and Highgate Common were once one continuous and relatively extensive block of heathland, which was also linked to Kinver Edge. The site is therefore a remnant of a much larger ancient heath system. Although in a fragmented state, the heathland nature of the course is possibly the second largest heathland system within Staffordshire.

Heathlands, although exhibiting an air of naturalness, are a product of human activity and the processes of early deforestation and will if left unmanaged quickly revert back to their original state. It is therefore important to accept from the outset that the existence of our heathlands is purely a result of the complex interactions between the vegetation types and the effects of their management. Management may be natural, i.e. through fire, storm damage, etc, and herbivorous grazing from rabbits or other rodents, or through the intentional practices of burning, grazing or cutting. Lowland heathlands are by their composition inherently unstable with successional change normally being quite rapid following the cessation of management.

Heath/acidic grassland mosaics persist in the roughs with heather (Calluna vulgaris) in a variety of growth stages. In some areas the heather appears healthy with a dense cover. However, there are many areas where the heath has been invaded by dense tall fescue grass (Festuca sp.) and here the heather is often present as sparsely scattered degenerate bushes amongst a dense tussocky grass sward and scotts pine. Bracken is present as a few isolated patches.

There are a number of holes on both courses which run through woodland with the dominant trees being Oak, Silver birch, Scots pine, Lodge pole pine, larch and Chestnut. These woodland areas are also very important from both an environmental perspective and golf perspective giving a completely different habitat to that of the heathland but also offering transition for plants and animals from and into the heathland areas. From the golf perspective they give great natural architectural difference and valuable feeling of separation from the rest of the course and holes.

3. Objectives


a)      To ensure that the management prescriptions carried out on the golf courses are both practical and sustainable. Many species of wildlife will become increasingly dependent upon the habitat types created, resulting in the management programme being both practical with respect to its implementation and sustainable or continuous into the longer term.

b)      To develop and maintain diversity within the habitat.

c)      To develop an ongoing timing of works so as to minimise ecological disruption when carrying out any management operation.

d)     To give regard to the careful and considerate execution of works, with particular emphasis being given to phasing of work, the careful use of herbicides (if necessary), the types of machinery used and the manner of their use.

e)      To create an appropriate balance between the varying habitats within the landscape.


a)      To maintain an adequate throughput of traffic around the course.

b)      To facilitate continuous play in and out of the roughs.

c)      To retain and improve the strategy of each hole.

d)     To retain the aesthetic and visual quality both on an off the course.

Ideal Management Objectives

To maintain and enhance the existing heath vegetation and to increase the area of heath vegetation, particularly in areas of acidic grassland and heath/acidic grass mosaics. To maintain other semi-natural habitats such as the woodland and other grassland areas as to encourage the longevity of all these environments. However it is also very important to maintain and enhance the intrinsic appeal of the golf course. The overall objectives from this management plan are listed below.

1        To maintain and enhance the existing areas of heath vegetation (HO1,HO2, HO3 and HO4).

2        To increase the area of dry heath vegetation, in particular by increasing heather cover in areas of heath/acidic grassland mosaic and acid grassland (HO2).

3        To maintain the diversity of semi-natural habitats (HC7).

4        To maintain, and where desirable enhance, populations of rare species of flora and fauna.

5        To maintain and enhance the intrinsic appeal of the site.

4. Current conditions

a. Heathland

Heathland is a relatively fragile habitat in that it requires management to retain its character. In the absence of management lowland heath suffers from invasion of scrub (and bracken) undergoing natural succession to woodland.
The heather itself also degenerates in the absence of management, becoming tall and leggy, lacking vigour. Eventually there may be a lack of regeneration of the heather and grassland takes over. Heathland is also sensitive to nutrient enrichment and recreational pressure.
Some of the heathland at Enville is suffering from a lack of management. Many of the rough areas are being invaded by regenerating birch and Scots pine. Bracken is also present in some areas. Much of the remaining heather is also degenerating and almost all the remaining heath habitat is a mosaic of scattered heather bushes amongst acid grasslands. The only areas of pure heathland are those areas that have received some management in the way of cutting and areas that have been reinstated by way of turf stripping and seeding with harvested heather seed from cut areas.

The site is also subject to heavy recreational pressure with many of the roughs subject to players crossing between tees, searching for balls and playing from the
rough. Heather is venerable to trampling and the thin soils are susceptible to erosion. As you can see from the picture the pathway has over time spread sideways and the heather has been reduced to give way to grass land.

The strips of rough between the fairways on the heathland site have a good lowland heath flora. This heath vegetation is typical of both the surrounding Staffordshire heathland landscape and of heaths further south in the county which have lighter sandier soils than those in the north of the county. In table 1 shows a list of vascular plants present on the site and are characteristic of lowland heath, this was collated as part of a county wide heathland survey conducted in 1990. We are currently updating this list as part of our management objectives.

Table 1

Common Name
Latin Name
Common Name
Latin Name
Heath Milkwort

Heath bedstraw
Galium saxatile
Western Gorse
Ulex gallii
Heath rush
Juncus squarrosus
Ulex europaeus
Pill sedge

Cytisus scoparius
Sheeps fescue

Potentilla erecta
Wavy hairgrass

Calluna vulgaris
Common bent
Agrostis capillaris
Bell heather
Erica cinnerea
Purple moor grass
Molinia caerulea
Vaccinium myrtillus
Mat grass
Nardus stricta
Heath speedwell
Veronica officinallis
Pteridium aquilinum

b. Woodland

There are many areas within the area of Enville Golf Club, which are and for the purposes of this management plan classed as woodland. These areas of woodland create valuable areas for wildlife and also give a diverse feel to the golf course environment.

There are areas amongst the heathland which are predominately pine which have naturally regenerated due to the neglect of the heathland, however these are now well established and would be to controversial to remove in there entirety but do also add to the quality of the landscape. These areas will be managed as part of the heathland environment so as not to have an adverse affect on the heathland and will form part of the heathland management plan.

In some of the older areas of woodland the predominant species are oak, silver birch and pines with the occasional pockets of alders and chestnuts.

4-12 Lodge HLS Map/Ref number 7230

This area of Enville Golf Club was planted as part of the war effort around 60-70 years ago. It was planted with Pinus Sylvestris (scots pine) with the occasional Lodge pole pine. The feel of this area is very different from that of the other areas on Enville Golf Club; it therefore represents a major proposition to improve this environment. However, we feel that we can make these improvements over the long term not only to improve the ecological value of this area but also jointly improve the golfing experience by changing from predominately commercial pine woodland into a diverse environment ranging from broad-leaved trees through to areas of heather.

There are a number of pines and oaks that are much older and would have been there before planting of the pine woodland. In a number of areas there are small stands of heather, which are remains of the original heath that once covered this area prior to the planting of the pine woodland. It is expected that as part of the woodland management that we can create more areas of heather throughout this area. In fact recent tree thinning work around the 5th Hole revealed soil structures very similar to that of the true heathland areas so a trial of applying heather seed harvested from the heath was created. To date only severn months on from seed being applied we have extensive amounts of young heather. I would suspect there is a viable seed bank in the soil throughout the entire area, however the introduction of fresh seed has improved the chances of heather establishment.

In a number pf places there is natural regeneration of silver birch and oak and the occasional chestnut but the area still remains dominated by pine.

This area has been part of Enville Golf Course since the mid 1980’s.
The aim of the management plan is to improve the diversity of species of trees throughout this area, reducing the amount of pine and increasing the amount of broad-leaved species along with areas of heather.

With all the work prescribed we have to be mindful of the fact that the orientation and definition of the golf course has to be the key factor in all of the proposed work, the site is primarily a golf course. The club is run by a management committee and various sub committees so due to the fact that to improve the area major work will have to be implemented then approval will have to be gained. The current committee are well aware of the needs to improve and maintain this environment so it is hope that the plans will e accepted and the club will be fully behind the long term improvements of the golf course and its environment.

Over the period of this management plan we intend to work on compartments within this wider area each year along with general woodland management throughout the site. Initially we will thin areas of dense pine and replant with native broad leaves. As mentioned above we will endeavour to also leave areas for heathland creation amongst areas were thinning has taken place.

c. Wildlife

At the time of writing this report we have undertaken an amphibian and reptile survey. The results of this report are currently being processed. However, we have positive sightings of many species particularly species, which are high on the Biodiversity Action Plan, including: Grass snake, slow worm, common lizard, great crested newt, frogs and toads.

It is our intentions to improve the environments were these species exist so we can potentially increase the numbers of these species.

The finished report will form part of this management plan.

It is also our intention to complete surveys for other wildlife groups over the coming years to further improve our management of this important site.

5.  Rationale for Management

Objective 1:    To maintain and enhance the existing areas of heath vegetation.

The heathland at Enville Golf Course underwent a long period during which it was not managed (probably in the 1950s to 1970s).  Certain areas of the heathland are now in urgent need of a programme of active management in order to retain and enhance their wildlife value.

Heath generally benefits from several different forms of management, all of which prevent succession (to scrub and woodland) and maintain the heather in a healthy growth stage.  In the past, lowland heaths were usually subject to a combination of cutting (for fuel and fodder) and grazing (by both sheep and cattle).  Heaths can also be managed by burning.  Therefore, there are several potential management options to fulfil the above objective: grazing, cutting and burning.

Since the site is a Golf Course, grazing is unlikely to be a realistic option.  Burning can be problematical from the point of view of public perception of its use and burning may be inappropriate at a Golf Course, which is heavily used for recreation.  Also, if burning is to be successful it must be carried out very carefully, with a high level of skill required by local managers.  The activity can require a high level of manpower.  Finally, burning is not recommended on heaths smaller than about 5 ha since there is insufficient are for rotational management.  At this site, there is actually very little heath at a stage where burning would be beneficial.  Therefore it is probably inadvisable to prescribe burning as an appropriate option for heath management at Enville Golf Course.

Therefore, cutting is likely to be the most appropriate management for heath vegetation on the site.  For cutting to be successful the heather should be in the building or mature growth stage (degenerate heather will not regenerate from root stock following cutting).  The cut should be carried out between October and March – a cut in January or February reduces risk of frost damage.  However, if the cuttings are to be used in heath restoration projects (see later), the cutting should be carried out between October and December, when there is still seed in the pods.  The heather should be cut to a height of no less than 15cm – a shorter cut may result in frost damage or desiccation.  Cuttings should be removed following cutting, whether or not they are to be used, to prevent enrichment and mulching.  On the lowland heaths of Staffordshire a rotation of about 10-15 years is recommended.  However, in some areas of the Golf Course, such as the semi-roughs and some roughs, it may be desirable to maintain the heather at a certain height (e.g. 15cm) in order to retain visibility and permit playing from the rough.  Where this is the case, the rotation will probably have to be reduced to 4-5 years. 
However, in some cases were the heather is in good health we have found that cutting on a more regular basis 2-3 years, the heather has grown more dense and of greater health. So it is expected that some areas will be treated in this way.

Degenerate heather will not benefit from cutting.  The best option for stands of tall degenerate heather is to shallowly rotovate (to a depth of a few centimetres only) in order to expose bare soil and to rely on regeneration from seed.  This regeneration can be encouraged by rolling of the rotovated ground and the spreading of heather cuttings/litter in early spring.

Such treatment of heath applies to both areas of dry heath and patches of dense heather within the heath/acid grassland mosaics. 

Where scrub is invading the heath, scrub/trees may require removal prior to cutting, though heather cutting should check scrub invasion in future years.  Scrub control can include pulling, weed wipe and spot gun treatment with an approved herbicide such as glyphosate (for smaller scrub) or cutting and treatment of the stumps, again with an approved herbicide such as glyphosate (“Roundup”). Cut material should be removed from areas of heath, even if it has been chipped.  All species of invading scrub should be removed from areas of heath.  Edges of glades should be scalloped to maximise the area of woodland edge habitat, i.e.: to increase the area of woodland/heath ecotone.

Another practice which has been very successful in the past amongst areas were grass has overtaken the heather, has been turf stripping down to the mineral/humus layer were the seed lies dormant. In many cases this has resulted in heather regrowth within twelve months of this operation being carried out and a good stand of heather within 2-3 years. This is a practice which will continue as it also provides us with good fescue dominated turf to use in bunker restoration so thereby not wasting any resource.

In places, where bracken can be shown to be invading the heath vegetation, bracken control may also be required.  There are two options for bracken control: spraying with Asulum, or cutting, or a combination of both.  Spraying should be carried out just as fronds have unfurled and almost formed a canopy while cutting is best carried out once in mid-June and again in late July.  In either case, follow up management (spray and/or cutting) will be required in subsequent years.

Objective 2:    To increase the area of dry heath vegetation, in particular by increasing heather cover in areas of heath/acid grassland mosaic , acid grassland, forestry areas and neglected sites.

Where heather occurs in a mosaic with acid grassland, or where it has succeeded to scrub, secondary woodland or bracken, it is desirable to increase the area of heath vegetation, dominated by heather.

Therefore, around all areas where heather or heath vegetation occurs scrub and/or bracken control are desirable, in order to extend heath around existing areas of this vegetation.  Methods should be as described under Objective 1.  Both scrub and bracken should be removed from all existing heath vegetation to give the heath vegetation plenty of light and ensure restoration of heath over a larger area. Heath restoration can then be considered in these areas or in areas of acidic grassland.

Where bracken has been controlled, litter may require removal where it has accumulated over several years.  Litter should be removed down to the mineral soil and taken off site.  The exposed soil may then require rolling if the surface is lumpy and uneven (preferably using a Cambridge roller to produce tiny ridge and furrows) to give some compaction (favoured by heather).  Heather cuttings/litter should be spread sparsely in early spring. The picture above shows an area of stripped turf rotavated and then rolled with the harvested seed being applied. These cuttings can be collected from management of vigorous heather stands (see under Objective 1 above) or by using a leaf vacuum under dense stands of heather.  Then the area should be rolled one more to press seed into top layers of the soil.  If this final roll is not carried out the germinating seeds are likely to suffer desiccation.

 Where bracken litter has not accumulated the area will normally be vegetated with heath/acid grassland mosaic.  In all areas of this mosaic, whether bracken was present or not, the most effective means of increasing heather cover will be either through turf cutting or light rotovation since heather requires light to germinate and will not regenerate through a dense grass sward.  Turf cutting is most appropriate in areas of dense tussocky grassland.  The cut should remove all vegetation down to the top few centimetres of soil (1-2cm only), without disturbing the soil any deeper than this.  The turf should be removed from site.  Often heather will regenerate readily since there may be seed within the soil and once exposed to light, this can germinate, however, it may be necessary to roll the bare soil and spreading heather cuttings sparsely in early spring, followed by a second roll, may enhance regeneration.

Rotovation will be more appropriate where grass density is low and where scattered heather bushes are present.  Rotovation should be shallow (up to 10 cm).  As above, heather will often regenerate readily, especially where some mature bushes are retained as a seed source.  However, rolling, spreading of cuttings, and then rolling again, may be required.

Turf cutting followed by spreading of heather cuttings is generally more effective than rotovation followed by spreading of cuttings.  Both these methods of heath restoration may also encourage birch (and Scots pine) regeneration and therefore scrub control may be necessary.

Objective 3:    To maintain the diversity of semi-natural habitats.

The Golf Course was presumably once dominated by heath with possibly some acid grassland.  This might therefore be seen as an ideal habitat composition for the site.  However, much of the site is now taken up by fairways and greens and some of the roughs are now dominated by woodland (both semi-natural and plantation).  To restore heath over the entire site would not be compatible with the recreational use of the site.  Therefore it is reasonable to accept other habitats on the site.  The semi-natural habitats (semi-natural woodland and neutral grassland) are of particular value at Enville Golf Course.  The semi-natural woodland (generally oak/birch dominated with some introduced Scots pine) requires little or no management.  If left unmanaged it will succeed to oak dominated woodland in the future, as the birch is relatively short-lived.  If management is carried out in the future  for good silvicultural practice compromise of nature conservation objectives should be minimised, e.g.: by retaining and, where appropriate, enhancing the current level of species diversity, age diversity and structural diversity and by favouring broadleaved species with all management restricted to the non-breeding season for birds (October to February).

The small patch of unimproved neutral grassland could be managed best by mowing and removal of the cuttings twice a year (to reduce fertility of this area further).  The first cut should be in July to allow flowering and seeding of typical neutral grassland species.

Objective 4:    To maintain, and where desirable enhance, populations of rare species of flora and fauna.

Species records for Enville Golf Course are relatively poor.  Vascular plants were surveyed in detail in 1983/84, but the records have not been reconfirmed since.  There are many species considered rare or uncommon in a regional (county) context and upright chickweed is a nationally scarce species.  Strictly, these records require reconfirmation before appropriate management prescriptions can be drawn up.  However, assuming that some of the species are still present it may be possible to follow general management prescriptions.

The species fall into three main ecological groups, as shown in the table below.  Species typical of cultivated or disturbed ground are generally annual species with large numbers of small easily dispersed seeds.  Therefore, provided there are some areas of disturbed ground present, especially in the locality of the 1983/84 records, or in the vicinity of any plants of these species re-recorded in the future, it would be reasonable to expect populations of these species to survive.  Species typical of heath/acid grassland vegetation should benefit from heath management as discussed under Objectives 1 and 2.  The third group of species are typical of hedgerows/woodlands and should benefit without specific management prescriptions since areas of semi-natural woodland are to be retained.


Group 1:          Species typical of cultivated/disturbed ground

Common fumitory                                          Shepherd’s cress
Field pennycress                                             Common whitlowgrass
Weld                                                               Little mouse-ear
Hop trefoil                                                      Thyme-leaved sandwort
Bird’s-foot                                                      Annual knawel
Biting stonecrop                                              Common vetch
Small nettle                                                     Slender parsley-piert
Bugloss                                                           Changing forget-me-not
Green field-speedwell                                     Early forget-me-not
Musk thistle                                                    Black nightshade
Squirreltail fescue                                           Upright chickweed
Lesser soft-brome                                           Early hair-grass

Group 2:          Species typical of heath/acid grassland

Heath milkwort                                               Trailing St. John’s wort
Cross-leaved heath                                          Dandelion
Bell heather                                                     Pill sedge
Heath speedwell                                             Small cat’s-tail
Wild thyme                                                     Heath grass
Prickly sedge                                                   Brown bent
Sheep’s fescue                                                            Heath dog-violet

Objective 5:    To maintain and enhance the intrinsic appeal of the site.

Enville Golf Course is primarily a recreational site and therefore intrinsic appeal (in particular, specific Golfing interest) is a priority at the site.  While ideal management for nature conservation might require removal of most of the trees, particularly the non-native plantations and invasive Scots pine, this would have an unacceptably negative impact on the intrinsic appeal of the site as a golf course.  Therefore, at least some such areas of trees should be accepted.  However, trees retained for amenity purposes should favour broadleaves wherever possible.  Regeneration of all species, including Scots pine, is necessary in, and immediately around, the retained groups of trees.

Another area in which there is some conflict between nature conservation interests and recreational interests on the site may be in the cutting of roughs.  Conservation objectives would prescribe cutting of heath, once heather is well established, on a cycle of 10-15 years.  However, in areas of rough where balls are likely to fall, golfing interests would prefer to maintain the heath at a shorter height than this cycle would result in.  Therefore, roughs where play might be expected are generally mown every 2-4 years.  Again, it is hoped that a compromise might be possible with roughs being mown on a rotation of a minimum of 4 years, but with as many areas as possible mown on a longer rotation up to a maximum of 15 years.  It is also preferable that different areas be cut in different years, to enhance the age/structural diversity of heather on the site. In the picture above you can see cutting in operation and the difficulty of cutting in and around self-set trees.

Objective 6: To improve all woodland areas with special interest being paid to large plantations of pine.

Over the period of this management plan it is hoped we can create woodland areas with the dominant species being oak and other native broad leaves. The area of greatest concern is 4-12 on Lodge.    however over the long term we hope to create diversity within this area through creating a mix of broad leaves and pine with the addition of heather areas.

For this purpose we have highlighted this area as a special compartment within the management plans within this report. 

Other Factors

Relatively expansive areas of open combustible vegetation such as heaths are generally at risk from fire.  This may not be a great problem at Enville Golf Course, since the area is divided by many fairways and greens and these would probably limit fire damage.  It is also likely that there are good supplies of water to most parts of the site.

Since Enville Golf Club has a relatively high public profile, at least within the membership of the Golf Club, management carried out on site may require some explanation/interpretation.  Much of the management (e.g.: scrub clearance, turf cutting, rotovation) will appear destructive and may result in opposition.  Therefore, efforts should be made to fully explain why the management is being carried out and what is hoped will be achieved.

It is of paramount importance that all management undertaken is recorded and that the effects of this management are monitored carefully.  Subsequent management should be modified depending on the success/failure of previous management to ensure that objectives are being attained.

There will be legal and other obligations covering the site, which must be fulfilled in the course of management of the site.

Jonathan Wood
Courses Manager
Enville Golf Club