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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Watt

Biodiversity in Golf: Lewes Golf Club Hosts Nature Links Seminar

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

A gorgeous scene looking across the 'Captains Bunker' towards the club house and the 18th green at Lewes Golf Club in East Sussex.
Lewes Golf Club provided a stunning venue in which to hold the inaugural Biodiversity in Golf, Nature links Seminar.

Lewes Golf Club was delighted to host the inaugural Nature Links Biodiversity in Golf seminar recently. The event brought together golf club owners, managers, and head greenkeepers to discuss what clubs in and around the Weald to Waves nature corridor can do to support biodiversity.

Lewes Golf Club Secretary Mandy Quick with her opening address to the Nature Links seminar delegates. #NatureLinks, #LewesGolfClub
Lewes GC General Manager Mandy Quick opens the seminar with a short address to the delegates.

Post seminar Mandy added 'The inaugural seminar exceeded any expectations with inspiring and motivational presentations from speakers both within and outside the golf industry. Encouraging for us, as a Club, to realise that we do much to accommodate and promote wildlife whilst following good practice when managing our course. Moving forward, we hope there will be more events like this as we all learnt so much.’

Image shows two golfers heading up the fairway on towards the 2nd green at Lewes Golf Club with stunning views in the background of the South Downs National Park in Lewes, East Sussex. #LewesGolfClub #SouthDownsNationalPark
Our Stunning and Privileged location within the South Downs National Park is not lost with the management team here at Lewes Golf Club

Caroline Croft of the Southwood Foundation, which runs Nature Links, said, "We were delighted to work with Lewes Golf Club to bring so many dedicated greenkeepers, club managers, and board members together for the first time to discuss what clubs are doing for nature in and around the Sussex Weald to Waves nature corridor. The UK is ranked one of the most nature depleted countries in the world, with one in six species threatened with extinction, so what golf clubs do to support biodiversity is vitally important. It was fascinating to see how action for nature is also saving clubs money and improving their own sustainability in the face of rising costs and climate change. There was a real sense of community and common purpose at this event, which can only go from strength to strength. Congratulations Lewes Golf Club – excellent hosts and great to see all the inspiring work underway."

More from the Southwood Foundation's website...

'The biodiversity crisis is now an absolute emergency. Nature has incalculable intrinsic value and yet the changes humans are making to the climate are driving mass extinctions across the planet. Biodiversity and functioning natural systems are key to our survival. We need to work with nature, not against it. So It is vital that we learn about it and from it, that we do all we can to restore nature and make space for its many and varied forms to thrive, and that our nature-led solutions are built into carbon reduction plans, for the sake of humanity and life on earth'.


Weald to Waves

Mission statement from the Weald to Waves website -

" We are creating a bold and brilliant network of nature recovery corridors across Sussex, forging connections for our fragmented wildlife and boosting biodiversity alongside food production and thriving communities ".

By Alex Briggs - Weald to Waves Project Officer

"We were delighted to be part of a seminar focusing on nature recovery on golf courses, including those along the Weald to Waves corridor.

Nature Links, run by the Southwood Foundation and hosted by Lewes Golf Club, brought golf club owners, managers and head greenkeepers together to discuss what clubs in and around the corridor are doing for nature.

This is the first time clubs in the Weald to Waves landscape have been invited to come together to discuss the nature crisis. This event holds significance as golf clubs represent a substantial group of landholders in Sussex, with 66 courses across the two counties.

Golf courses have an important part to play in enabling connectivity and promoting nature education. They have a reputation of having a substantial ecological footprint due to their intensive maintenance practices, such as pesticide use and water consumption.

However, increasingly, golf clubs in the UK are recognising the importance of nature recovery on their courses. Some clubs have dedicated areas for wildlife conservation, including bird sanctuaries, wetlands, and wildflower meadows and Sussex clubs have a new call to action as part of the corridor"

An image of James Baird, Weald to Waves Farms and Estates ambassador as he delivers an engaging address to the Nature Links in the Golf sector seminar .
James Baird, Weald to Waves Farms and Estates ambassador gave engaging and thought provoking addresses to the delegates at the Nature Links seminar.



On-course demonstrations

A very popular feature of the seminar was the 'live' on course demonstrations by head greenkeeper Tim Brewster and his team, as we all headed outside after a lunch buffet...

Tim and his team demonstrated a range of new grassland management techniques using machines that 'we' have managed to gain funding for from the South Downs National Park. These machines include a bigger cut and collector and a Terra rake.

We demonstrated these machines in use at the seminar to give golf clubs some ideas as to how they can implement new techniques and grassland management to help their clubs and biodiversity at the same time.

One of the key techniques we demonstrated is the use of the bigger cut and collector to remove as much grass as possible in September. This removes nutrients that rooting grass would leave on the ground, which helps to promote finer grasses and wild chalkland flowers.

The greenkeeping team at Lewes Golf Club using their Terra Rake to rake up any dead grass and lightly scarify the long grass areas. #LewesGolfClub #NatureLinksGolf #TerraRake
The Terra rake is then used later in the year to rake up any dead grass and lightly scarify the long grass areas.

The Terra rake is then used later in the year to rake up any dead grass and lightly scarify the long grass areas. This helps to thin the areas out and promote finer grasses and wildflowers. It also makes it easier for golfers to find their golf balls.

No Fungicides or Pesticides at Lewes Golf Club

In addition to these techniques, we are also committed to not spraying any fungicides or pesticides at Lewes Golf Club. We also limit our selective weedkiller to one a year. We are also continuing to monitor our water usage and sand usage, and we always try to recycle any sand or soil that we can.

Taking Pride in our Progress

We are committed to doing our part to help the environment and to restore the chalk grasslands at Lewes Golf Club. We are proud of the progress we have made in the past few years, and we look forward to continuing this work in the future.

Image showing delegates walking back to the clubhouse at Lewes Golf Club post whitnessing on course demonstrations by the clubs greenkeeping team.
Delegates at the Nature Links seminar head back to the clubhouse post the on course demonstrations by Tim Brewster and the greenkeeping team at lewes Golf Club

The Seminar was a Great Success

There was little doubting - the seminar was a great success, with attendees learning about a variety of ways to improve biodiversity on their golf courses. Topics covered included:

  • How to create and manage habitats for pollinators and other wildlife

  • Reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizers

  • Using water more efficiently

  • Creating educational programs for members and the public

  • Funding opportunities to help clubs finance biodiversity projects

Lewes Golf Club is committed to biodiversity, and the Nature Links seminar was a valuable opportunity to share ideas and learn from other clubs. The club has already implemented a number of measures to support biodiversity, including planting wildflower meadows, creating a pond for amphibians, and reducing the use of pesticides.

The club is also working with the South Downs National Park Authority to develop a Biodiversity Action Plan. This plan will set out specific targets for improving biodiversity on the course and in the surrounding area.



Image shows A  Group shot of the Nature Links Biodiversity in Golf seminar delegates at Lewes Golf Club. Taken in September 2023 with views of the stunning rolling downland of the South Downs National Park around Lewes, East Sussex in the background by JonnyWattUK
Because we care. A Group shot of the Nature Links Biodiversity in Golf seminar delegates at Lewes Golf Club September 2023 by JonnyWattUK

Lewes Golf Club is a great example of how golf clubs can play a vital role in protecting and enhancing biodiversity. By taking simple steps, such as providing habitats for wildlife and reducing the use of chemicals, clubs can make a big difference for nature.


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