Newquay Golf Club has been announced as the National Syngenta Operation Pollinator Award winner, as part of the Golf Environment Awards 2022.
Newquay Golf Links' picturesque 18-hole course, located in the heart of Newquay town, overlooks the world-famous surfing mecca of Fistral beach. The Harry Colt re-designed dunes construction, initially built in 1890, protects and enhances the environment and ecology along this magnificent stretch of the beautiful north Cornish coastline.
Originally earmarked for housing construction, when that deal fell through the instigation of the golf course has ensured the land and its environs has remained a green oasis ever since.
And that's never been more the case than under the care and protection of its current Head Greenkeeper, Dan Kendle and his team on the course. Now their endeavours have been recognised and rewarded with one of the UK's top awards for habitat and ecology management - the Operation Pollinator Award.
Dan (below) highlighted the purchase of the Club's own flail collector enabled him to instigate a comprehensive Ecological Rough Management Plan, with work started during autumn and winter of 2020/21. "Already this is paying dividends, with an increase in wildflower populations in areas which we have cut and scarified, including yellow rattle, kidney vetch, birds-foot trefoil and pyramidal orchids."
It also coincided with Dan's signing up to Operation Pollinator. "As part of that, we over-seeded an area outside our maintenance building with a coastal mix of wildflowers. This has created a lot of positive feedback from both club members and members of the public.
"This area in particular has been alive with insects, with several species of bumblebee, including red tailed bumblebee and garden bumblebee. Elsewhere on the course some of our bunkers are used by solitary bees with sandpit mining bees and sandpit blood bees both having been recorded." A bug hotel constructed on the course provides refuge for insects and invertebrates.
In 2021 he had a course architect draw up a course improvement plan. As part of that, the team aims to create some bare sand areas for the benefit of a variety of native insect species.
These long rough areas designated for pollinators are also an immensely valuable habitat for the whole ecological food chain.
"Over the past few winters they have also provided good hunting ground for short eared owls, which nest on the next headland along the coast," he added.
Dan has worked with the local RSPB to get help on developing diverse habitats to help the region's native birds. The Club's logo includes a Cornish chough - a rare breed of crow with characteristic red legs and beak, along with a distinctive chough call.
"Over the past 12 months the highlight undoubtedly has been the Cornish choughs. We have a 'local' pair who have regularly been seen feeding on the course and last year they had three 'Choughlets' in tow. Exciting to see !!," he enthused.
Dan also agreed to act as case study for a factsheet that Marie Athorn, of the RSPB, is going to compile on how to help choughs on golf courses - helping to highlight what a valuable resource golf course environments can provide.
"We are providing the desired feeding habitat for several rare species of birds that visit the course," he reported. "Annually we have flocks of whimbrel that visit to feed whilst on their spring and autumn migrations. We are also fortunate enough to have curlew and oystercatchers feeding on the fairways and light rough areas."
Commenting on his success in Operation Pollinator Awards, Dan said: "To find out we had won the award was amazing. It's a great achievement for us and I want to thank all the team for their hard work they have put in to helping contribute to the award. Along with the members and committee of Newquay Golf Club for their continued support in everything we do. I'd like to thank the Golf Environment Awards judging panel for selecting us as winners, as well as Syngenta as sponsors of the Award."
Over recent seasons Syngenta Technical Manager, Glenn Kirby, has been working with Dan in developing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to leatherjacket issues on the course.
"Throughout the process, Dan's passion for the environment at Newquay, and his desire to enhance its ecological value alongside providing a great golf course, has been paramount. He has really embodied the spirit of Operation Pollinator in continuing to manage the golf course for the benefit of the Club's members, while at the same time managing the out of play areas and particularly the ecological rough for the benefit of pollinators and the vast biodiversity."
Newquay Golf Club and environs pictures with thanks to Dan Kendle ©