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Scottish Golf Environment Group



Scotland is renowned the world over for its scenic beauty and stunning landscapes. Many areas are popular for visitors purely because of the quality of the scenery and their character. Indeed, many areas are designated as National Scenic Areas, or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Areas of Great Landscape Value. Golf courses are found in all of these areas, and are present in areas of local landscape sensitivity.

Indeed all golf courses have an impact on the aesthetic qualities of their surroundings and on the character of their local landscapes. Many of the best courses are those which work with local landscape character, and feel part of the landscape. The older links courses for example were designed out of the original topography and vegetation. They are part of the evolution of those landscapes. Conversely, more recent golf courses have had a greater and perhaps sharper impact on landscapes, borne out of greater earth-shifting and redesign, and resulting in courses which are less harmonious with their surroundings.

As with the management of habitats, golf clubs can take their surroundings into account when considering the character and structure of the course. There is much they can learn by looking at local tree cover, the presence of heather and other vegetation types, the views and vistas from the course into the wider countryside, and most importantly the characteristics of the golf course landscape itself.

By taking such things into account clubs can ensure that future proposals are not going to detract from the ambience of the golf course. By looking to the local landscape clubs can ensure their efforts have maximum benefit to local landscape character, and by so doing, to the golfer. Golf is a game to be played in pleasant and attractive surroundings, appropriate for the courses' location. The majority of golfers prefer to play on courses which have a sense of place, and by learning from your surroundings you can develop and enhance that sense of place.

Many landscapes are of historical significance. For example many old estates comprise Historic Parklands and Designed Landscapes. Many golf courses are situated in such landscapes. Those that are should consider the historical qualities of their site when preparing proposals for landscaping and course development. Indeed they should speak to their local authority or local office of Scottish Natural Heritage to receive guidance on the exact qualities of their particular landscape. Again this is beneficial to the club as they can then appreciate the landscape history and features which attracted golf to that area in the first place. We see so many clubs over planting parkland golf courses, and thereby removing the parkland character so typical of the course. Remember there is a distinction between a parkland and woodland golf course, and its not always the best thing to turn the former into the latter.





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