Ecology Report

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ROYAL BIRKDALE GOLF CLUB

Ecological Management Plan

17 JUNE 2021

BOB TAYLOR Consulting Ecologist


Royal Birkdale Golf Club

CONFIDENTIAL

Date of visit:

20 – 21 April 2021

Present:

Chris Whittle - Course Manager John Kelly - Greenkeeper Bob Taylor – Consulting Ecologist, Bob Taylor Ecology Sophie Olejnik – Consulting Ecologist, Oleo Ecology Discussions were also held with Mr Michael Sawicki, Managing Secretary of Royal Birkdale Golf Club.

Weather:

Open, sunny skies, no cloud, still with temperatures increasing to 8ᵒC.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Introduction Bob Taylor Ecology Ltd has been engaged by The R&A to produce an Ecological Management Plan for Royal Birkdale Golf Club, covering all 18-holes of the golf course and associated practice areas. Royal Birkdale supports a true links golf course within a nationally and internationally designated coastal sand dune landscape: Sefton Coast Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Ribble and Alt Estuaries Ramsar site (partially), and Sefton Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). As such, targeted and appropriate ecological management is imperative to ensure that the golf course meets its condition assessment targets as set by Natural England. The links landscape, in which Royal Birkdale is fortunate to be located within, is of both biological and geomorphological importance, owing to the mosaic of coastal sand dune habitats and undulating topography. Given the importance of the landscape, it is essential that management is ongoing and seeks to enhance and conserve the many important ecological features within the golf course. Over time, scrub including hawthorn, gorse, privet and bramble has encroached into the dune grasslands and it is largely this which requires management to knock back natural succession, prevent the loss of more important dune habitats and increase areas of open bare sand and short-sward herb-rich dune grassland, and with these a wider range of flora and fauna.

The management recommendations provided within the plan have been developed specifically for Royal Birkdale. If implemented, these will help to improve the golfing interests of the golf course, as well as enhancing the wildlife value of the golf course. This plan also seeks to ensure that the course is in optimal condition to host The Open Championship, which is considered likely to return to Royal Birkdale in the next five to six years. Management is required in certain areas of the golf course to enable wider spectator routes, transitioning and the siting of event infrastructure. Ecological management is an ongoing process, to be carried out on an annual basis alongside regular golf course maintenance. This is particularly important for a links course, where scrub invasion can be quick and aggressive. This plan is written to cover a five-year period with specific management prescriptions to be carried out in certain years, taking into account recovery time and aesthetics (ie coppiced gorse can be unsightly). The plan is written to be a working document and one that guides management rather than directs, allowing for variation in timings to account for limiting factors such as poor winter weather or limited budgets. Monitoring throughout the five-year period will be essential if the reinvasion of the scrub is to be recognised. This will require an annual walkover with photography to record each area so that works through each winter can be planned. Monitoring over the two successive years after completing any scrub removal work will also be essential to ensure that scrub cleared does not return. Annual assessments carried out by the retained ecologists will be important both in ensuring that the aims and objectives of the plan are being met and that works are being carried out appropriately and with minimal impact on the habitats and the wildlife interests.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Aims and Objectives of the Plan This management plan is written to direct future management through the ‘out-of-play’ areas of the golf course to reinstate and maintain a balance between the different coastal sand dune habitat types and to ensure that the nature conservation objectives of the site are met. Consideration is also given to the playing interests, both visual and strategic. Of particular interest here is the management and development of a more playable fringing rough (transition rough between the semi-rough and the offline dune grassland). This management plan is written hole-by-hole with each management prescription given a compartment ID (ie 1A, 1B and 1C) to ensure that the plan is simple and readily workable. Each compartment is given a timescale and it is hoped that this method of planning will reduce the burden on available time and resources available to carry out the work. The plan seeks to ensure that the club meets their conservation objectives for the golf course, with specific emphasis given to scrub management and removal, tree removal, and bare sand creation – all of which are required to meet the condition targets from Natural England. These management prescriptions will also ensure that the golf course is more playable and more enjoyable for all golfers. All of the management work will need to be undertaken in phases to ensure minimal course disruption and avoid ecological impact. It will also be important to time the works to avoid the nesting bird season (March to August, inclusive). Some of the larger works outlined in this plan may be eligible for funding under Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship (noted where likely eligible) and this should be a target for 2022, liaising with the local Natural England advisor (Natalie Hunt) for assistance, with the application for funding to be received in 2023.

Site Description Royal Birkdale Golf Club is located in Birkdale, Merseyside. The golf course lies within several statutory designated sites of nature conservation interest: Sefton Coast SAC, Ribble and Alt Estuaries Ramsar site (partially), and Sefton Coast SSSI. Birkdale Dunes borders the golf course to the south and west and separates the golf course from Hillside Golf Club in the south and southeast. To the east, the golf course is bounded by Birkdale Common, and to the north residential properties border the course.

Nature Conservation Highlights Royal Birkdale Golf Club lies within an important coastal landscape, designated under both national and international law due to the important habitats, flora and fauna supported by the land. Royal Birkdale supports several of the habitats for which Sefton Coast SSSI is notified: dunes with creeping willow, humid dune slacks, fixed dunes, and dune grasslands. These habitats support a number of protected and notable species, including

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sand lizard, natterjack toad and great crested newt – all of which have been present within the golf course in the past (current status is unknown). The last condition assessment of Royal Birkdale (Unit 009 of the Sefton Coast SSSI) was undertaken in 2009 and resulted in the site being assessed as being in Unfavourable – Recovering condition, owing to the scrub encroachment, limited areas of open sand, areas of rank grassland and thick-sward marram and false oatgrass. At this time, the club worked on extensive scrub removal and dune slack creation, which are still being upkept with annual mowing of the created dune slacks and annual scrub clearance. It is hoped that this new five-year management plan will build on the recommendations of the previous assessment and result in Favourable condition status over time. Historically, scrub and trees would have been very limited over the course but over time successive planting and limited scrub management has led to an unfavourable percentage of scrub and tree cover within the golf course, reducing areas of dune grassland. Whilst gorse and other scrub provides important bird nesting habitat across the site, its extent is unfavourable at present. Its removal and/or management through coppicing or grading will balance the mosaic of habitats whilst retaining bird nesting habitat, important early-season nectar and pollen for invertebrates, and edge habitat for reptiles and amphibians. Trees are not native to the golf course, and this plan recommends complete removal of trees through all areas where they are not required for screening, protection or other strategic golf functions. Their removal is important here to enable the restoration of the dune grasslands and the return of the protected site to ‘Favourable condition’ status. Everyone involved in the discussions and development of this plan is cognizant to the importance of trees and the many roles they play in our wider countryside. The removal of trees can be an emotive subject, often generating concern within the membership. Tree removal is not recommended without good cause, and at Royal Birkdale tree removal is necessary to meet the nature conservation targets of the designated sites, seeking to enhance and conserve the more important and rare coastal sand dune habitats below. Given the above, Royal Birkdale has pledged to consider compensatory tree planting to fully compensate for any trees removed. The club will liaise and work with Sefton Council, The Mersey Forest Trust and Natural England to secure areas for appropriate tree planting throughout appropriate areas within the wider Sefton Coast.

Landscape Objectives The golf course forms an important part of the coastal landscape along the Sefton Coast and the main landscape objectives are: • •

To maintain the natural landscape character of the course by restricting scrub and trees to an acceptable percentage of cover. To promote the geomorphological, historical and cultural value of the landscape to members and visitors to Royal Birkdale Golf Club.

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Ecological Objectives In order to maintain the dune grasslands, dune slacks and open-sward grasslands, active management is required to meet the following objectives: • • • • •

Develop an agreed approach for the removal of scrub and ongoing management of retained scrub. Restore dune grasslands by cutting, scarifying, and heavy sand topdressing. Retain and increase the extent of dune slacks. Develop a culture of accepting bare sand, working to retain and provide open sand during scrub removal. Undertake all of the above to achieve favourable conservation condition by end of year 5.

Royal Birkdale will work closely with Natural England to ensure the favourable conservation condition requirements are addressed.

Considerations around the staging of The Open The Set Up Guidelines for The Open outline the provision of a transitional or fringing rough running between the semi-rough and the offline dune grassland. This, on most undulating links sites, is not possible through all holes but it is beneficial where it can be achieved. Maintain areas of fringing rough where possible to a minimum 4m width. Ensure ongoing scrub removal through all areas of spectator and other routings, including all areas of proposed infrastructure. Annual monitoring is advised.

General recommendations for the management and development of the fringing rough The fringing rough is a band of transitional rough situated between the semi-rough and the offline unmanaged dune grasslands. It is managed to promote a finer and more open sward that can be allowed to flower and seed, which in turn will stop a rolling or bouncing ball before it enters the offline grassland. It will offer due penalty to the slightly errant shot without resulting in a lost or unplayable shot. Of interest ecologically, the fringing rough will reduce the amount of trampling within the offline rough and will help to conserve flowering plants and nesting birds.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

It is understood that the club currently manages the outer rough using a set of gang mowers that do not collect. To achieve a more open sward, collection of arisings will be essential and this must be undertaken within appropriate periods of the year. The following is recommended: •

Define where a more open fringing rough can be practically created given the nature and topographical limitations that exist – determine width and stick to it when managing.

Cut, scarify and collect during early spring (to end February) and repeat early autumn (September). Through the first two to three years additional topping, raking and litter collection may be required given the productivity of the sward.

Combine the above with sanding through identified problem areas. This will weaken and thin the sward. It will also help to smooth the surface, effectively helping contact with the machinery.

It will be necessary to purchase appropriate equipment to carry out the work. A Weidenmann Super 500 and 600, or similar, should be trialed on site.

In addition to the purchase of a cut (flail), scarify and collect (all in one machine), as outlined above give consideration to the purchase of the Amazone Profihopper 1250 or 1500, or similar (again trial on site). This equipment will complement the above as it is extremely capable and will traverse the undulating sand mounds.

In addition to the above, make regular use of the Weidenmann Terra Rake for raking and scarifying after summer cutting. The Terra Rake is less aggressive and can be used at any time – one or more passes can be undertaken to improve condition during any operation.

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General observations, comments and specific recommendations Hole 1 Compartment 1A Gorse to the front-left of the tees. The gorse is significant in terms of its size, it is also becoming degenerate. Recommendation for management: Remove the entire stand of gorse, extending outwards to scrape away the enriched grassland around the perimeter and reinstating as fescue/bent grassland (Year 2). Compartment 1B Tree line along eastern boundary. It is understood that consideration is being given to removing additional trees for hospitality and tentage however the woodland belt does provide important screening and security. Recommendation for management: Retain the majority of the trees, reducing the smaller and outwardspreading scrub to the tee and east side of the existing stand to afford further space for The Open infrastructure placement (Year 3).

Compartment 1C

Crown raised pines

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The pines screening the maintenance facility have in part been crown-lifted. Additional work is required on a few selected trees to enable machinery maintenance and spectator movement. Recommendation for management: Continue new pine introductions to maintain a structurally diverse screen (Years 3 and 5). Compartment 1D

A small localised patch of Japanese rose is present within part of the right-hand dunes. Recommendation for management: Total clearance required to prevent further spread of invasive species. Implement chemical control using a triclopyr-based herbicide1 during late summer / early autumn. Follow up by strimming and removal as control allows (Year 1). Compartment 1E

Large stand of gorse to back-left of the 1st green

1

Apply following the label and statutory advice.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Large stand of gorse to back-left of the 1st green. Although some significant gorse coppicing has been undertaken on the north side of this stand, there is scope for additional coppicing and eventual removal. Recommendation for management: This winter – Year 1 - commence coppicing the western 50%, ie west to centre, removing all arisings to enable the cut growth to recover. By Year 3, remove the front (east-facing) 50% in its entirety, ie scraping of all brash, removing stumps to avoid trip hazards and reinstating the surface. Commence Year 1 and complete by end of Year 3.

Hole 2 Compartment 2A

Area cleared to right of tees

The extent of scrub removal to the right of the tee, running through in a north-west manner to the 3rd hole, has been very effective.

Recommendation for management: Scrub clearance has been successful but additional work is required to finalise surface smoothness and dune topography. A number of retained stumps will also need to be removed. Further work is also required to reinstate a more visible and functional pathway through the dunes (complete end Year 1). Compartment 2B Gorse has been removed to the left of the carry, enabling more effective viewing and spectator transitioning. The management of the remaining stand was discussed under Hole 1 above.

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Seasonally wet slack between 2nd and 3rd hole

Recommendation for management: Introduce spectator routing by cutting willow (end August to end September 2021). During discussions within this area, the possibility of removing more scrub throughout the entire lower section was discussed. Following clearance, remove all waste, scrape back to clean sand and, at the same time, locally win sand for on course use. It would be necessary to undertake a botanical assessment prior to commencing with any of the above work but a large sand scrape in this area that lies seasonally wet would be particularly advantageous as an ecological feature within the designated site.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Compartment 2C

Scope to remove additional gorse and hawthorn without losing informality through the hole

Gorse and hawthorn to left of the 2nd hole. Recommendation for management: Remove the identified group of gorse and hawthorn over 25 m back to the more southern located stand. This will further enable the informal scalloping but with greater opportunity for viewing through the hole. Total clearance required but this work will need to be deferred until the maintenance sheds have been completed (min Year 5).

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Compartment 2D

View of 2nd green complex

The scrub around the 2nd green has been effectively cleared, however some scrub and ivy remain which should be cleared entirely over the next two years (complete by end of Year 2). Recommendation for management: Remove the remaining scrub around the 2nd green.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Hole 3

General view of 3rd hole – significant improvement given the extent of scrub removal

Compartment 3A The 3rd is visually attractive hole, particularly when viewed from the championship tees, more so because of the extent of scrub removal which has opened up the dunes further to view.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Dune slack feature within 3rd carry

Recommendation for management: The remaining ivy through the carry, particularly between the 2nd green and 3rd tees, should be removed, although this will fall outside the term of this plan. The dune slack situated left of the championship tees should be extended further south by 10-15m and by 25m length. This would be a significant capital project that could be undertaken given under Countryside Stewardship funding (Year 3 onwards). Compartment 3B The eastern section of the carry is becoming largely overgrown with Berberis spp. in and amongst the creeping willow and marram grassland. This is a garden escape / weed and should be contained. An area of dune slack is becoming overgrown with scrub and birch.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Compromised dune slack as a result of increasing scrub

Recommendation for management: Expand the extent of dune slack just after the cross-connecting walkway from the 2nd green to 3rd tee whilst clearing all Berberis spp. from the west-facing mounding towards the fairway. Retain open sand conditions through the middle section of the carry. Left of the main walkway, use a triclopyr-based herbicide to contain all of the Berberis spp. prior to cutting and collecting. This work should be undertaken with immediate effect, ie late autumn in Year 1 or will otherwise need to be completed just after the next Open, outside the term of this plan.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Compartment 3C

Good quality coastal grassland to left of 3rd hole

Consideration is being given to increasing the width of the spectator area to the left of the 3rd bunkering. The grassland is of good quality and moderately species-rich. Creeping willow is a significant feature through the lower section. Recommendation for management: Any improvement here by way of smoothing out the surface and increasing the area for spectators will need to be undertaken through a process of cut, fill and vegetation translocation. Translocation should be undertaken in accordance with best practice guidance and under supervision. Note: Due to the quality of this grassland, serious consideration should be given to whether further space is actually required and/or how best routing could be provided, to minimise impacts on the dune grassland. Compartment 3D Stand of Japanese rose to right of 3rd green.

Recommendation for management: Total clear required, involving cutting, weed control and removal of all brash (Year 2). Aim to leave fragmented open sand but with seeding at a low rate to re-establish grassland cover.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Hole 4 Part of The R&A vision is to increase the width of area on the turn to the right of the 4th tees. This work has been completed to good effect.

Increased area for turning right of 4th tees.

A pathway has also been cut from the roadway to the back of the 4th tees. Here, further grading of the scrub is recommended using an extended hedging lance to optimise openness along the route.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Recently created pathway to the back of 4th tees

Compartment 4A On occasion, the possibility of opening up a more effective spectator route to the right of the 4th hole has been discussed. This will pass from the fence just north of the contractor’s compound through the back of the dunes exiting at the point of the taller sand ridge right of the hole. Whilst the first part of the land supports tall herb vegetation with some sand dune interest, the second section clearly supports dune grassland interest that is worthy of its designation. Botanical assessment will need to be carried out prior to considering this work so that the proposal can be fully informed from the outset.

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Careful creation of spectator routing possible through right side of hole

Routing at the point of the second sand ridge could effectively run around the first group of pine given the removal of two identified pine trees east side of the sandhill just before the fence. With the removal of the trees and from the fence, grade out a min 6 m run moving the sand out towards the green to ease the walkdown towards the green. Take care not to remove more than 6m as this will become overly visible from the tee, moreover it would represent an unnecessary loss of part of the hole. Given the importance of the dune grassland, translocate the grassland greenside before grading. Use the turves to reinstate cover and do not buy in outside turf. Any work undertaken here would need further discussion and should be completed by the end of Year 3 at the latest to allow reasonable recovery prior to The Open. Grading slightly oblique to play would reduce the visual impact of the run from the tees.

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Compartment 4B

Scrub to back of the 4th green

A large stand of degenerate scrub forms a feature back of the hole. It is however dominated with snowberry and taller degenerate scrub gorse is present see 5th hole but noted as in variable condition. Recommendation for management: Total clear recommended leaving only the better-quality gorse as outlined under 5th hole below. Some trimming through the retained margin of the gorse will be required to improve condition (Year 1).

2nd to 5th Holes General Note: Over the last winter period, the club has been working from north to south from the 5th through to left of the 2nd hole selectively controlling young gorse and other scrub. The club employed contractors to help complete this work. In addition, the rough left of the 5th hole has been heavily worked to thin the sward. The work has taken two years involving repeated thinning and heavy sanding which has combined to create a much thinner and more playable rough. The club also installed 180° irrigation heads which has reduced the amount of water spilling back into the rough. This work has been considerable and has been well received by the membership.

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Significant flooding was noted through the 2nd and 3rd fairways last winter, with additional flooding noted through the 6th hole. This has been an inherent and building problem over time largely due to the ineffective Coast Road drainage system. The club has worked with the Local Authority to clear offending trees and open up the Coast Road drains which has had a marked and significant improvement with respect to the water table over the course. The club will keep up with the maintenance of the Course Road drains through the term of this plan.

Hole 5 Compartment 5A A number of pine noted left of the tee complex are becoming quite tall and will increasingly impart shade over the tee surface. Selective tree clearance is required without losing the effective screening provided. Recommendation for management: Starting from the back-left of the tee, remove the first and second pines, remove the third pine set slightly back, together with the next two hawthorn, leaving just the westernmost hawthorn in situ. Retain the next three tall pines but remove the smaller cluster of pines just north of the artisan clubhouse. In addition, and to maximise light onto the tee, the privet hedge back of the tee should be topped by a minimum of 2m to encourage its further tillering and spread. This would need to be undertaken in an informal manner rather than a formal topiaried-type of cut. Whilst removing the pine, also remove all regenerating trees. The ivy and associated ground flora should be retained, at least in the short term. In the future, it may be worthwhile thinking of additional lower-growing shrubs such as field maple and hawthorn simply to add interest where required. To the right of the tee, consider removing all of the self-regenerating white poplar to optimise openness and air movement around the tee complex (Year 2) Compartment 5B

The scrub immediately left of the carry (see also 4B) consisting of willow, buckthorn and privet could be reduced significantly to improve spectator movement and flow. Recommendation for management: Remove 50% of the scrub from the 5th working from the margin to center, ie to the top of the ridge. Remove all ivy and associated bramble and reinstate a more appropriate grassland surface. All stumps should be removed to avoid tripping (Year 2). Compartment 5C Snowberry continues from the above identified scrub over a further 25-30m length. The ground layer is also dominated by ivy. Snowberry is extremely aggressive and invasive and is difficult to eradicate.

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Recommendation for management: Spray without cutting over the entire section of affected dune. Cut once dead and remove all arisings (Year 1) and monitor and re-treat as required through (Years 2 and 3). Compartment 5D

Pond to right of 5th hole

The reed through the water body right of the hole is appropriate ie in balance with the extent of open water. This is important if optimum water quality is to be maintained. Recommendation for management: Australian stonecrop was noted through the western quarter of the pond and this would be best removed using a long-reach arm on a large JCB during the optimum window of end of September to end of October. The algae over sections of the pond could be cleared by raking and/or netting with collection, repeating through each season as and when noted (Ongoing-annual).

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Compartment 5E

Green complex – note gorse over left and right-hand mounding

Gorse was noted on the mounds to the back of the green but its extent at this point in time was considered largely acceptable. Recommendation for management: The extent of gorse is acceptable, requiring no immediate management intervention. Annual monitoring is required however to ensure no further outward spread of the gorse.

Hole 6 Compartment 6A Walking from the 5th green to the 6th tees, it was noted that the pines are very obvious (see last picture). Views through the lower trunks revealed an undulating series of sandhills which are being obscured from view. Eighty-six trees run from the back of the tee to the last obvious sandhill south of the carry. A further 60-70

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trees were counted along the length of the plateau before giving way to the sandhill and the last grouping of scrub pine.

Sandhills hidden by planted pines

Recommendation for management: Remove all pine and reinstate the topography through the more level sections of the sandhills (by end year 3). With the removal of the trees, scope will exist to retrieve sand from the flatter plateau section, front-right of the carry. This could then be used to help raise the sandhills immediately right of the tees. These sandhills should be raised to a maximum of 1m to reduce visibility on to the course. Given the number of trees to be removed here, it would be worthwhile liaising with the Local Authority and Forestry Authority with regard to a compensatory tree planting plan. Compartment 6B The open grassland carry is wide and there is a possibility of introducing a fringing rough, ie seeding grasses, managed with the Terra Rake and collecting equipment to thin the sward. Local sand topdressings through the

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lowest areas will also be beneficial, helping to thin and improve sward condition, which will enable ball retrieval and play (ongoing). The extent of tree clearance to the left of the carry, which has resulted in the total removal of a quite significant number of tall pine, has been effective. The area has been reinstated to a recovering sand scrape, supporting local undulations to offer interest as it recovers. Compartment 6C

Reedbed to the extreme left of the 6th hole

An extensive reedbed of common reed is developing to the extreme left of the 6th hole. Management has been undertaken over the years to maintain some open water but given the extent of reed it would be beneficial to retain the entire area as a closed reedbed that will be of significant benefit to birds such as reed bunting, reed and sedge warbler. Recommendation for management: Relax management through this area, at least over the next one or two years, and monitor bird interest throughout 2021 and 2022. The degree of usage by birds will determine future management. I was pleased to see that the holly to the south side of the reedbed has been removed (north-facing slope).

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Compartment 6D Large tract of birch and common reed extending back towards the tees. There is opportunity to remove all trees and reinstate an extensive dune slack through this area. Recommendation for management: Treat as a capital works project under a Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship Scheme, ie from Year 3 to Year 5. It would be possible to bring the dune slack from the area of the birch around the taller dunes through the lower section and towards the road. This would be significant in terms of its conservation value.

Between the 2nd green and 7th hole

Extensive dune slack of high botanical and ecological significance

The dune slack between holes is normally roped for protection during The Open. This area is of high ecological significance. The cut and collected dune slack grassland is surrounded by creeping willow, soft-rush and dune grassland. Recommendation for management: No change to existing management required. Though consideration should be given as a capital funded project to extend the feature around three sides into the more rank sections of the grasslands. This is likely to fall outside the term of this plan.

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Hole 7

General view of 7th hole from winter tees – note extent of scrub clearance through carry

Compartment 7A A significant amount of work has been undertaken to remove the gorse and associated scrub through the middle section of the carry and also over to the right side. Scarring has occurred but this will be reinstated over the course of the year as ground and climatic conditions allow. Recommendation for management: During the summer consider raking through the entire area, preferably using machinery such as the Terra Rake followed by equipment that will collect. Alternatively, rake into local points and collect (Year 1). Note: The bunker complex around the green is obscured from the elevated yellow tee. This tee is also quite close to the road – significant road noise was noted. This was also noted on the footpath just out from the boundary fence. Further consideration should be given to using this tee during The Open due to the extensive works required to ensure that the tee is suitable for players and spectators that is likely to be detrimental to the dune grassland and geomorphology.

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View of 7th hole from right-hand (yellow) tee

Hole 8 Compartment 8A

Deep hollow with scrub to front-right of championship tee

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A number of dune slacks are present within the dunes between the 8th championship tees and the 12th tees. This whole area would benefit from scrub removal under a capital project funded by Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship funding. Closer to the 8th tee, consider removing the scrub through the deepest hollow. Recommendation for management: Remove all but two or three smaller hawthorn and remove the taller goat willow in order to reinstate the visible nature of the hollow (Year 2).

4414 General view of 8th hole from championship tee

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The extent of scrub removal undertaken to the right of the 8th fairway just back from the three fairway bunkers has been undertaken to good effect.

Pic 4415 This large and now open expanse has been sprigged with marram and is likely to recover well

Compartment 8B The cross-connecting ditch was noted to support Australian stonecrop. This is a Scheduled2 weed and should be removed in its entirety.

2

Scheduled under Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).

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Recommendation for management: Repeated raking on an ongoing basis will be required to remove the stonecrop. Bring the weed out and place on a polythene sheet or tarpaulin and move to a designated site for drying and burning (Annual and ongoing). Compartment 8C The gorse to the back and back-right of the 8th green has been removed. The whole area regraded back to a clean underlying sand and sprigged with marram to aid recovery.

4417 Significant gorse removal and restoration of sandhills

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6th to 9th Holes General Note: Although no surveys have been carried out it is likely that water vole are well represented through the 6th to 9th holes. It will be essential that measures are given to protecting them during the next and successive Opens and other major events. Recommendation for management: Undertake water vole survey to inform presence or likely absence and population size and extent. Year 2 to 3.

Hole 9 Significant work has been undertaken to remove the scrub through the carry. The gorse to the left side should be retained over the course of the next few years given the possibility of erecting the new maintenance sheds. Compartment 9A

Dunes to left of the hole

The bund to the left of the fairway is becoming overgrown with white poplar. Comfrey is also well represented through the dune.

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Recommendation for management: Remove all white poplar and comfrey. Whilst removing the latter, create a ribbon-like bare sand network rather than one large sand scrape, this being particularly valuable for sand lizard (Year 4). Compartment 9B Three local groupings of gorse to the left of the 9th fairway. These three groups accentuate the dogleg and are important from a golfing perspective. Recommendation for management: Given the importance and the likelihood of professionally hit golf balls landing within this area, it has been agreed that the best course of action would be to use an extended hedging lance to grade the outer margins to improve the condition of the gorse well in advance of The Open (commence Year 1 and review Year 3). The gorse to the back of the 9th green has been removed. There is now discussion to raise the height of the dunes further, which from an ecological point of view would be entirely appropriate. Compartment 9C

Gorse to back right of green

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The gorse to the back-right of the green extends over the crest of the sandhill. It is degenerate and has recently, at least in part, been cut. Recommendation for management: Remove the gorse to the back of the crest (by 4m) to enable the restoration of the sandhill for spectator vantage. Grade the remaining gorse margin using a hedging lance to improve its condition (Year 1).

Hole 10 Compartment 10A

Significant gorse clearance underway to the left of the 10th championship tee

Significant work is well underway to improve the areas identified within The R&A Vision Statement. For example, left of the tee the surface was being scraped following gorse cutting and all stumps were being removed at the time of the visit. The need to ensure the removal of all bramble or other unwanted materials was discussed at length as not doing so will only result in a regeneration of scrub growth and an ongoing maintenance problem.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Compartment 10B

General view of 10th hole – note increasing scrub left of general tees

Standing on the championship tees, it was noted that scrub is heavily invading to the left of the general tees and is increasingly becoming visually compromising. As part of the works identified under Compartment 14B, remove all willow scrub, including the roots, and resmooth and reform the surface thereafter to enable access at the time of The Open. Recommendation for management: The gorse to the left, as identified under Compartment 14B, will be coppiced in Year 1 and allowed to recover so as to enable hospitality infrastructure to be positioned following removal of the outer gorse. Note: There is no objection to retaining the extant and discrete grouping of bramble situated back-left of the general tees, this being quite dense and of importance to birds, invertebrates and small mammals.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Compartment 10C

Remove gorse to increase transitioning

Further space for buggy and spectator transitioning to the right of the tarmac path just south of the halfway house is required. There is no objection to further gorse removal to facilitate this. The outer gorse is discrete and not contiguous with the more central grouping. This stand of gorse should be removed.

Recommendation for management: Remove the gorse to the north of the tarmac road over 4-5m depth. Remove all associated bramble and reinstate the surface, all to enable spectator movement and access. Ensure all stumps are removed and that the surface is reinstated (Year 1). On the south side of the road, remove 2-3m of the gorse, grading the remainder using the hedging lance (Year 1).

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Compartment 10D

Series of smaller groupings of gorse left of the 10th dogleg/back of 14th tee

It was suggested that the gorse immediately back of the 14th tee should be retained through to the spectator path. However, it would be appropriate to remove all gorse north of this path running down to the left of the hole. Recommendation for management: The majority of gorse could be grubbed out without significant disruption to the surface. One larger grouping, where the mounds rise, also supports ivy and this will need to be cleared to reduce trip hazards Year 5. Retain the gorse south of the maintenance track but grade the margin over 4m using the extended hedging lance. Compartment 10E Considerable discussion was held with regard to removing whole or part of the gorse to the right of the 10th fairway. A number of attractive fingers of gorse run down towards the playing line but the gorse is increasingly likely to compromise spectator movement and vantage.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Recommendation for management: With the recommendations given above in mind, consider removing all of the gorse on the south-facing slope back and over the crest of the sandhill by a minimum 10m, this being necessary to expose the dune ridge. Grade the remaining gorse using the hedging lance to improve outer condition. The whole area will need to be returfed and it is recommended that the club use locally sourced native dune grassland turf rather than purchased amenity turf Year 3.

Hole 11 Compartment 11A

4428 Retained bramble and gorse between tees

The walkway between the intermediate championship and the white tees is quite narrow. The path is also prone to sinkage. There is a need to remove all bramble and gorse as it is very visible when walking from the championship tee and will be at the time of The Open. There is also a need to strengthen and increase the width of the path for machinery and maintenance access. Recommendation for management: Extend the width of the path by 1m using built up sand and turf. Create a natural angle of repose and use larger turves rolling them from the existing surface down the created slope stake into position using long staples and ensure continued irrigation until reasonable establishment has been achieved (Year 1-2).

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Compartment 11B A number of young gorse plants were noted to be regenerating between the white and yellow tees. Recommendation for management: Chemically treat all hawthorn and gorse to the right of the 11th white to yellow tees. Remove all arisings upon completion (Year 2). Compartment 11C

Large area of open fragmented gorse and bramble left of the general tees/left of red gravel path.

Gorse and associated scrub to left of general tees

Recommendation for management: Remove all gorse through the lower section of the valley, together with at least 70% of the bramble to promote short distance views through to the south. Concentrate the work through the lowest 30m width only in the first instance. Remove the privet and associated scrub through the next section of dune grassland, again just left of the red gravel path (commence Year 2). Remove privet and associated scrub

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Compartment 11D

Spectator route running through the dunes left of the 11th hole

The spectator route running left of the hole needs to be widened to accommodate spectator numbers. This could be undertaken without significant impact to the dune grassland as the spectator route supports a high botanical composition in places. Recommendation for management: Implement local surface grading as and where required along the length of the dunes, reinstating using native dune grassland turf only to maintain visible and ecological condition (Year 2). Compartment 11E A significant tract of dune grassland running between the 11th and 13th holes. The grassland between these holes supports a significant amount of low-level scrub which is increasing.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

General view of grassland between 11th and 13th holes

Recommendation for management: There is a need to contain and remove scrub on an ongoing annual basis between holes as labour and time allow. Remove a minimum 20% on any one occasion, repeat annually. Compartment 11F

Tall pine and hawthorn to right of 11th approach

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

The tall pine trees have been gradually thinned over the years. Those remaining are oppressive and very visible especially when viewed from the championship tees. Their removal would open up views of the wider dune topography and improve the nature and quality of the dune grassland. The area is relatively flat but low lying and thus potentially wet. Raising of the surface would be required in places following tree removal. Vegetation is varied and ranges from the typical dune grassland vegetation supporting indicator species such as weld but this grades into the wetter soft rush dominated grassland transitioning to creeping willow, white poplar, hawthorn and Scots pine. Recommendation for management: Consider removing all pine and all of the smaller hawthorn. The larger windswept hawthorn should be retained as an individual feature tree. The taller hawthorn is of significant ecological interest (Year 4). Note: The area supports higher bird interest than it does botanical interest, the whole area should be surveyed appropriately prior to finalising any work – bird survey required.

Walkway from 11th green to 12th tees A series of dune slacks are represented north of the walkway between holes. These slacks are scrubbing over with hawthorn, pine, birch and willow, all at the expense of the dune slacks and associated vegetation. There is a need to introduce management through these areas.

Dune slacks within wider dunes but within the course boundary require management

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

The wider dunes here remain natural and not influenced by golf. The lower sections support creeping willow which is a designated feature of the site, hawthorn scrub is sporadic rather than dominant and the taller sandhills support typical dune grassland vegetation. More importantly, certainly from a consenting process, the dunes remain natural, ie the geomorphological interest that have been built over thousands of years remain intact and this would be negatively impacted if roads or routings for example were to be considered within them. Alteration or impact on the crest of the dunes, ie the dune topography, is always seen very negatively by the statutory consultees. Any proposals to utilise the dunes would require survey and eventual consent. Likely early stage surveys may include: initial Phase 1 habitat survey will need to be undertaken followed by an NVC Vegetation Survey (National Vegetation Classification Survey), bird survey, natterjack toad and reptile survey and breeding birds. Recommendation for management: Through the dune slacks, it will be necessary to physically grub out as much scrub as possible, cutting and chemically treating those remaining. Glyphosate would be the only herbicide approved given the presence of water and would need to be applied well in advance of the slacks rewetting. Given the number of slacks present through the wider dunes, the club is advised to work towards Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship funding. Such is the importance of these areas that immediate and ongoing intervention from Year 2 to 3 of this plan will be required.

Hole 12 Compartment 12A The 12th is without doubt one of the signature holes on the course, it is also one of the more memorable holes in golf. The dune slack is of high ecological significance. Recommendation for management: Limited management is required, other than periodic cutting and collecting (as existing). However, the willow to the west side of the slack needs to be removed before it becomes overly dominant. Clear all willow and other scrub west of the slack in Year 3. Compartment 12B The scrub to the left of the path is very visible from the elevated tees. It is increasing and needs to be removed.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Scrub to left (east) of red gravel path

Recommendation for management: Remove the holly, pine, hawthorn and other scrub through the wider dunes to fully reinstate the dune condition (Year 3). Compartment 12C A significant amount of sea buckthorn, willow and silver birch is encroaching behind the dunes to the back of the 12th green. The area comprises of a large low level dune slack, seasonally inundated and with difficult access.

Scrub encroachment back of 12th green

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Recommendation for management: Total scrub removal required either physically where possible or by cutting and chemical treatment in early autumn, ie before the slack re-wets (Year 1). Compartment 12D The tall pine right of the main dune slack (front of 12th tees) are compromising views of the sandhills behind. Given that the trees have grown significantly the sand hills are more exposed and any former screening of the road is now compromised. The four Scots pine immediately right of the green are separate from the main stand and are blocking outward views of the adjacent sandhills, the removal of all these trees would be advantageous both from a golfing and visual point of view, ie in reinstating the outward views and thereafter in enabling the management of the dune grassland interest. Before starting consult with the Mersey Forest Partnership regarding the likely use of these trees by red squirrel. Recommendation for management: Liaise with Mersey Forest in relation to the total removal of the pines right of the 12th carry (Year 1 to 3).

Hole 13 The 13th hole has changed significantly given the extent of scrub removal throughout the full length of the hole (right side). The gorse, however, has thickened over the dunes, around the green and back along the left side. There is a need for significant gorse removal to the left of the approach and to the back of the green.

Gorse left of hole. Consider partial removal from top of dunes to lower one to two thirds

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Compartment 13A Whilst there is scope to retain the individual stands of gorse to the foot of the sandhills, there is a need to remove the majority of the gorse from the higher dunes. Recommendation for management: Walking the 13th hole, retain the six main groupings of gorse running north of the maintenance and spectator route, removing the gorse from the first of the higher sandhills immediately left of the fairway bunkers. Remove the next group of four or five local stands or gorse on the south-facing tall sandhill Year 1. Monitor annually for scrub encroachment to year 5. Compartment 13B

Remove gorse over tall sandhill to reinstate dune profile

Gorse has dominated the large individual sandhill to the left of the approach. Hawthorn is well represented around the base and goat willow was also noted. Recommendation for management: Remove all scrub from the sandhill back and to the pine to reinstate sandhill topography. This will need to be undertaken as part of contractual works, which should continue through and to the back of the green Year 1. Monitor annually for scrub encroachment to year 5. Compartment 13C Gorse is now dominant to the left and back of the green and there is a need to reduce its overall extent in a manner that will retain and re-expose the dune topography.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Recommendation for management: Reduce the gorse from the crest of the sandhill, working down the dune, leaving the gorse through the lower one-third only. This work will need to be undertaken very informally and naturally, aiming to retain more fragmented groupings of gorse, particularly stronger stands of gorse through the lower level. Sycamore was noted to be increasing through the upper section of the scrub, and again this will need to be removed with the gorse. Year 1. Monitor annually for scrub encroachment to year 5.

Large stand of contiguous gorse left of fairway to approach

Compartment 13D Large area of degenerate gorse to back-right of green. Recommendation for management: Remove all degenerate gorse over the tall sandhill (100% clearance). Retain the local stand of gorse just right of the walk-off path until the area fully recovers. Retain the two windswept hawthorn immediately back or south-east of the gorse. Remove all remaining scrub over the sandhill to the 14th tee and work thereafter to reinstate the surface Year 1. Monitor annually for scrub encroachment to year 5. Note: Royal Birkdale have in the past utilised contractors to clear the scrub over the entire section of the sandhills running through Compartments 13A to 13D, and this should be an ongoing consideration. Right of the hole similar extensive clearance work using contractors has significantly improved the dunes (includes area of

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Jordon Spieth’s wild drive). This work has been extremely effective but the club will need to revisit the dunes over the next two years to control ongoing regrowth (Years 2 and 3).

High chipping green The gorse around the mounding just south of the high chipping green is beginning to encroach over the dunes down and towards the green, and some control of the encroaching margin is required if the gorse is to be contained. Sections of this long contiguous stand of gorse are also quite degenerate and the outer margin will need to be improved. Recommendation for management: Work to remove all outer regenerating gorse by chemical means. Grade the edge of the gorse using the hedging lance to improve condition. On the east side, some very old and degenerate gorse plants were noted. These would be best coppiced back to ground level so that grading could then be practiced through the remaining stand Year 2.

Hole 14

General view of 14th hole

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Compartment 14A

Gorse and associated scrub to right of championship tees

The scrub to the right of the championship tees is spreading to the detriment and loss of the dune topography and vegetation. Recommendation for management: Retain but manage the tract of gorse to the back of the championship tee to the spectator route extreme left side of 10th hole. Retain over a length of 25m following the track. Remove all overarching hawthorn and gorse, Japanese rose and willow right of the tees to fully expose the sandhill. Work will need to continue to remove the ivy. Conclude here by creating an open fragmented sward with a ribbon-like, bare sand grassland mosaic. Do not create a large bare sand area. Whilst clearing the above, ensure all remaining dewberry/bramble is removed from the left side of the tee bank (Year 1). Compartment 14B Gorse to left of 14th hole. Recommendation for management: Implement a 50% coppice with immediate effect Year 1 to 2, through the gorse left of the hole. Manage from north-south working from the east side to centre. Remove the hawthorn

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

and other obvious tree species. Scrape the surface and remove all brash. If deemed appropriate, implement a light burn over the prepared surface (with care), to chit the gorse seed bank. Allow the gorse to recover to a height of 1.25m before similarly coppicing the remaining 50% (by Year 3). Continue the above through to the left side of the 10th tees. Compartment 14C Significant gorse clearance work has been undertaken back of the 14th green, Recommendation for management: Monitor annually from late autumn 2022 to check gorse regrowth. In addition, consider reducing the low sandhill adjacent the main route to the practice ground to allow unrestricted movement and access back to the dunes. Scrape the lower lying section through to the taller dunes (to the back of the green) and allow to recover naturally. Year 2. Compartment 14D Continue with clearance of bramble and gorse stems. Recommendation for management: Remove gorse stems, scrape back and remove all darker sand, reinstate with a red fescue seed mix at a light rate of maximum 10g/m2 together with a light sprigging of marram (Year 1).

Hole 15 Compartment 15A A large stand of gorse is present left of the championship tees. The margin adjoins the red gravel route to the practice tee. Recommendation for management: Push the gorse back from the path by a minimum of 3m from the walkway, grading that remaining from low to high over 3m with an extended hedging lance to reinstate a stronger outer cover (Year 3). To the south of the path, grade from existing in a similar manner.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Gorse to right of tees

More degenerate side of gorse on approach to 15th championship tee

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Compartment 15B An area left of the championship tee has been used as a dump for grass clippings in the past and the resulting vegetation is rank. Recommendation for management: Remove the individual gorse to the back of the water point and scrape to reinstate a deep sand hollow, remove all surface vegetation including the degenerate creeping willow (Year 5).

Similarly, to the back-left of the tee remove all small, regenerating, individual gorse plants to reinstate ventage. Compartment 15C A similar sand scrape could be created immediately in front of the championship tee, again to deeper depth, all to remove the rank bramble and associated vegetation (Year 2). Compartment 15D Retain the large tract of mature gorse to right of yellow tee, with no intervention through the term of this plan. Compartment 15E

Remove the outer thorns together with single birch, retain the linear run of taller thorns back of these trees

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Significant clearance of scrub was noted to the right of the carry. Recommendation for management: Continue with the removal of the tall degenerate hawthorn over a further 10-15m only. This will expose the taller sandhills (extreme left of the picture!), to view from the tees. Retain the linear run of thorns immediately behind the outer more degenerate trees. (Year 1) Compartment 15F

Tall sandhill to right of fairway becoming overgrown with invasive thorn and ivy.

Sandhill with invading scrub to right of hole

Recommendation for management: This winter, assign pairs of greenkeepers to cut and spray, dragging and raking all brash from the sandhill for burning. Monitor over the next two successive years for scrub encroachment, whereupon further spraying will be required. Use a triclopyr-based herbicide such as Icade or Blaster Pro. All cutting and spraying work should be undertaken from October through to the end of March – commence Year 1. Continue with this work west through to the maintenance track, all to fully reinstate the more open sand dunes. Note: if this work is not completed within the next year or so then scrub may be a major problem come the time of the next Open.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Continue scrub clearance work through to maintenance track to reveal more open underlying sand dune interest

Compartment 15G

Remove all remaining sea buckthorn back to the road

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

From the maintenance track through to the green, sea buckthorn and hawthorn are dominant. A significant amount of sea buckthorn has been cleared but work should now continue to remove all sea buckthorn running back to the gravel path. Recommendation for management: Through this section, cut and remove all scrub growth and follow root removal and scraping, reinstating the surface sand thereafter prior to overseeding with a light fescue seeds mix and occasionally sprigged marram (Year 1). Compartment 15H Left of the hole, there is no objection to the lowering of the more lush mounds to provide additional space for infrastructure. However, the taller cross-running mounds should be retained without further impact. On previous occasions we have discussed the improvement of the lush mounds, which has included heavy pure sand topdressing (annual basis). Scope now exists to reduce the height of the mounds by at least 1m to enable capping over the entire area with pure sand. Clearly, any infrastructure provision here would enable improvement of the mounding. Compartment 15J

Developing scrub to back of 15th green

Significant scrub removal has been undertaken to the back of the green but there is scope for more.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Recommendation for management: Monitor scrub encroachment annually to the back of the green and through the grandstand area and remove as required. By the end of Year 2 ensure the remaining block of scrub identified on site running west by 20m minimum is cleared, effectively pushing the scrub well away from the green site (by end of Year 2).

Push back scrub by 20m to the back of the green

Compartment 15K A significant reduction in young hawthorn is required on the walkway to the 16th tees. Recommendation for management: As a rule of thumb, aim to retain three or four individuals only per 100m2. Remove all other scrub. Prune those retained to encourage tillering and density for bird interest.

Hole 16 Compartment 16A Remaining willow through dune slack to the right of the general tees.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Willow through dune slack

Recommendation for management: Remove all willow during the late summer 2021 (end of August to October), ie outside of the bird breeding season and when surface conditions allow. Whilst undertaking this work, clear the Berberis spp. and remaining bramble just north of the walkway to the championship tee. Scrape as required to improve surface condition (Year 1). Compartment 16B Mound to right between tees. Recommendation for management: Remove the quite oppressive and visually distracting mound in its entirety so as to open up preferred longer distance views through the improving dune slack (Year 5).

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

General view of 16th hole – note mound to right between tees

Compartment 16C

Gorse and hawthorn to left of spectator routing

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Large tract of gorse and hawthorn to the left of the spectator walkway. Recommendation for management: Whilst it would be appropriate to retain the majority of the gorse over the crest of this north-facing mound, the lower one-third should be removed in its entirety. Create an informal edge by removing between 2 and 4m along the length of the dune base. Grub out in its entirety rather than cut and spray to avoid trip hazards. Remove all associated hawthorn and other scrub along this run (Year 2). Compartment 16D Left of the spectator route, there is a deep hollow. Further deep and acute hollows could be created over a number of locations on the course which would offer locally sourced sand whilst creating variation of habitat composition and structure. Of additional note in this area are the tall pines. Recommendation for management: The pines should be removed through the term of this plan by the end of Year 5.

Compartment 16E To the right of the hole, ie from the cross-connecting bunkers and to the back of the green, sea buckthorn and hawthorn are pushing outwards into the line of the spectator route and towards the playing area.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

General view of scrub encroaching towards 16th hole

Recommendation for management: Over the next three years work to remove all scrub over a 150m length by a minimum 20m width to achieve space behind the first run of sandhills for spectator and construction access. Implement physical removal through the majority of the area identified to the right of the green approach, remove all roots to reduce trip hazards. On the steeper slopes, scrub could be cut and sprayed. Complete by end of Year 3.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Regenerating scrub to the right of 16th green

Hole 17 Compartment 17A The extent of scrub clearance work to the right of the tees running through to the course boundary has been carried out very effectively.

Recommendation for management: Remove all remaining scrub on the championship and general tee banking – west and south-facing slopes. Complete by cut and spray working (Year 1).

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Compartment 17B

Scrub and pine to left side of the hole

The pines running the length of the hole along the left-hand taller sandhills were identified under Hole 15. They are very prominent whilst playing the 17th. Recommendation for management: Remove the pines in their entirety (left of the hole), create open sand on the south-facing dune slopes, remove all sea buckthorn and hawthorn to enable spectator vantage and possible infrastructure placement (Year 3). Compartment 17C Three large, quite oppressive pines were noted just off the course to the right of the green approach. Recommendation for management: It would be beneficial to commence discussions with the Local Authority and Natural England with respect to removing these trees in their entirety. This would help reinstate balance given removal of the pines and scrub to the left side, from Year 1 to 3.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Compartment 17D

Birch, sea buckthorn, hawthorn and gorse to the extreme left of the green approach

Local area of birch, sea buckthorn, hawthorn and gorse to the extreme left of the green approach. Recommendation for management: Total clearance of all gorse and creeping willow required, but retain the taller scrub birch. No objection to the removal of the outermost west-facing limb on the back birch but these trees are important from an ecological point of view. Implement some light surface scraping, ideally down to the height of the winter water table to smooth out the surface and enable seasonally wet habitat conditions (Year 3). Compartment 17E A large degenerate tract of gorse remains from the spectator routing over the tall mound. Recommendation for management: Total clearance of all scrub and restoration of sand surface, to involve excavating, burying and sand winning. Ensure a good 1m of sand remains over the restored surface prior to seeding. Use a rough seed mix of 80% red fescue (close to native strain) with a minimum 15% sweet vernalgrass and 5% common bent (Year 1).

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Gorse and hawthorn to the left of the green

Hole 18

General view of 18th hole

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

The extent of scrub removal undertaken through the carry has re-enabled sight of the fairway. To the rear of the 18th green, the Club propose to create a low dune to shield the view to the adjacent car park. Consent from Natural England will be required for these works. A vegetation survey will be carried out in late June / early July 2021 to inform NE’s decision and subsequent construction of the dune/s. If consented, these works will be carried out in Year 1-2. Compartment 18A Continue the clearance work following scrub removal to the left of the carry. Recommendation for management: Excavate a deep sand hollow, removing as much sand as is practically possible to enable burial of all scrub and waste. Cap with a clean sand, retaining the natural hollow (Year 1). Continue with the removal of the birch and willow scrub to the right of the main walkway, implementing similar restorative work. Compartment 18B Pine tree south of the course boundary.

Discussions with the Local Authority should extend to the ongoing removal of the scrub running right of the 18th fairway, which in so doing will allow for the restoration of much more open bare sand habitat for sand lizard. Recommendation for management: Continue liaising with the Local Authority with respect to removal of this tree which is compromising outwards views through and towards the neighbouring sandhills (Ongoing from Year 1 to 3). Compartment 18C Area of hospitality to the left of carry/fairway. Gorse is encroaching south towards the line of play. If allowed to continue, this will compromise infrastructure placement by the time of the next Open. Recommendation for management: Remove all regenerating gorse back to the main stand. Retain the main stand to break up the otherwise quite flat grassland (Year 4). Compartment 18D I was pleased to see the removal of the gorse and the restoration of the surface to the left of the 18th. This work should be continued as discussed to the right side (Year 1). Gorse was noted to be spreading and becoming dominant over the left hand sandhills.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Recommendation for management: Remove all local groupings of gorse over the undulating sandhills to the right of the 18th fairway (Year 4).

Gorse removal left of 18th hole

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Gorse becoming dominant left of the hole

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Work Schedule Compartment ID

Action Summary

Year 1

1A

Remove gorse stand

1B

Tree removal east of existing stand

1C

Continued pine planting

1D

Treat and remove Japanese rose

1E

Coppice 50% gorse; remove 50% gorse

2A

Reinstate dune topography following scrub clearance

2B

Scrub removal and scrape creation

2C

Remove gorse and hawthorn back 25 m

2D

Remove scrub.

3A

Remove ivy and extend dune slack

3B

Clear Berberis spp. And extend dune slack

3C

Review required.

3D

Remove Japanese rose

4A

Create spectator route

4B

Remove all scrub

5A

Remove pines, manage hedge, and remove white poplar

5B

Remove 50% scrub

5C

Treat and remove snowberry

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2

3

4

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

5D

Pond vegetation management

5E

Annual monitoring of gorse

6A

Remove all pine

6B

Fringing rough management

6C

Relax reedbed management – ongoing monitoring of bird assemblage

6D

Create a dune slack

7A

Rake and collect

8A

Remove majority of hawthorn

8B

Remove Australian stonecrop

6th-9th holes

Water vole survey

9A

Remove white poplar and comfrey

9B

Grade gorse

9C

Remove gorse and grade retained gorse

10A

Remove all bramble and other brash

10B

Coppice gorse and remove all willow scrub

10C

Remove gorse and associated bramble

10D

Remove gorse

10E

Remove gorse and grade retained gorse

11A

Extend path width

11B

Remove gorse and hawthorn

11C

Remove gorse, privet and bramble

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

11D

Local surface grading

11E

Remove 20% scrub

11F

Remove pine and small hawthorn

11th-12th holes

Manage dune slacks

12A

Clear willow scrub

12B

Remove scrub

12C

Remove scrub

12D

Liaise with Mersey Forest prior to pine removal

13A

Remove gorse and monitor encroachment

13B

Remove scrub and monitor encroachment

13C

Remove gorse and monitor encroachment

13D

Remove gorse and monitor encroachment

High chipping green

Remove gorse and coppice retained gorse

14A

Remove gorse, hawthorn and willow and maintain retained scrub

14B

Coppice 50% gorse

14C

Monitor encroachment and scrape the lower section

14D

Scrape and reinstate

15A

Remove gorse and grade retained gorse

15B

Remove gorse and create sand hollow

15C

Remove bramble and create sand hollow

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15D

Retain gorse

15E

Remove hawthorn

15F

Treat and remove scrub

15G

Remove scrub and reinstate

15H

Lower lush mounds

15J

Monitor scrub encroachment; remove scrub

15K

Remove scrub

16A

Remove all willow and scrub

16B

Remove mound

16C

Remove gorse and associated scrub

16D

Remove pine

16E

Remove scrub

17A

Remove scrub

17B

Remove pine

17C

Liaise with LPA and NE, remove pines

17D

Remove scrub and scrape

17E

Remove scrub, scrape and reseed

18A

Excavate sand hollow

18B

Liaise with LPA and remove pine

18C

Remove gorse

18D

Remove gorse

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Signed

Bob Taylor BSc (Hons), MCIEEM, MBPR

Consulting Ecologist

Bob Taylor Ecology: It should be noted, that whilst every effort is made to meet the client’s brief, no site investigation can ensure complete assessment or prediction of the natural environment.

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Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Figure 1: Royal Birkdale Golf Club Management Plan 2021-2026

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Key Management Compartments

PROJECT TITLE

ROYAL BIRKDALE GOLF CLUB

DRAWING TITLE

Figure 1: Management Plan 2021 - 2026

DATE: 04/05/20

CHECKED: RST

SCALE: 1:5,000

DRAWN: SO

APPROVED: RST

VERSION: 1.0

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