James Hutchinson visit from “BIGGA”

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Morpeth Golf Club had a special visitor on Wednesday 22nd November, James Hutchinson from BIGGA was on site. James is the sustainability executive at BIGGA, he visits many courses across the uk every week giving advice on ways golf clubs can improve.

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On James’s visit he took three members of the greens team Stu Speirs, John Scurfield and Guy Anderson along with general manager Steven Johnson, on a four hour course walk. The team started at the first and walked the course in order of play, James pointed out on nearly every hole we have unmanaged areas of woodland that needs addressed. The methods of addressing the problems with the un-managed woodland areas were very interesting, he explained ways in which the team could create more habitats for wildlife by simply thinning and managing the woodland into individual areas. This basically means, take the trees to the left of the 12th we have one large area of woodland. James has suggested that the one large area “a single habitat”, we could thin out and create four smaller areas to create four habitats for wildlife to hopefully thrive. This is relevant to most of the course as the team looks remove most of the unsightly straight tree lines.

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One the right of the sixth fairway we have three large Beech trees, James has estimated the age of these trees is around the 250 year old mark. The team were delighted to find we have some trees to be proud of seeming most of the course is covered by 40-60 year old Pines. Deputy head Stu Spiers has a real passion for trees and wildlife, Stu has come up with a future plan for the woodland to the rear of the sixth green. He would like to remove all the Pine trees in the centre of the tree line straight behind the centre of the green, then he’d like to see a forrest path created which will make a more interesting walk to the seventh tee. Once these Pines have been removed it will allow huge amounts of light and air to the green as it is currently suffocated and is having a negative impact on the green, also we have a beautiful 60 year old Oak hidden away which again will be exposed for the members to see.

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The areas to the right of the tenth medal tee James has suggested that we maybe install a natural wetland area, this may encourage wildlife and also help catch some of the water that runs onto the course from the farm land.

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James was interested to see if there is any interesting wild life on the course, he has placed a camera in a part of our woodland to monitor this over a period of a week.

The team have been looking at ways to add colour to the course next year, unfortunately James informed them that the Rhododendrons we have will need to be relocated possibly to the club house/car park area as they create and shed during rainfall a substance which basically kills the soil profile and only Rhododendrons can survive.

To summarise James visit he has left the team with many ways to improve playability, encourage wild life and methods of managing woodland which will in return improve the health of the course. We hope he can return next year to do a three day survey of the full course to go along side the course development plan the greens team have completed, this will give the whole club good direction for the future.

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Thanks James, The greens team.

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