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Farnham Golf Club

Course Management at FGC

In Spring 2018 John Nicholson and Mike Edwards were appointed to formulate detailed woodland and heathland management plans for the course. Works commenced in September 2018 and since then regular updates have been added below (most recent first). Please check back soon for the latest news and updates. Further information is available by contacting the General Manager, Ben Beagley.


July 2019

First signs of heather regeneration in on of the first areas scraped in September 2018, with brash scattered in November 2018.

Below... many areas have benefitted from the much lower height of cut when the heather was mown in November 2018.

Excellent levels of desirable regrowth from the bases of the plants evident.



July 2019

Bell or 'Erica' heather starting to create a display on the 11th green mounds. 

In the forefront... the Ling / 'Calluna vulgaris' will bloom slightly later than the Bell heather each year.



June 2019

Spotted Orchid in the Heath - a rare beauty near the halfway hut.



June 2019

Some before and after images... courtesy of Ray Heath and Malc Billings.

Before...

After...

Before...

After...


June 2019

Heather Regeneration / Heathland Management

We currently have three forms of heather regeneration underway.

1, areas scraped without brashings

In these areas we have removed gorse and other forms of scrub. These areas require spraying to kill off undesirable regrowth of weeds to create a clean, inert environment. Once this is achieved, brashings (heather tips) cut in November 2019 will be scattered to introduce heather seed into the soil profile.

2, scraped areas with brashings (Current GUR areas/with blue lines)

There are a number of areas where the above process took place last November and we await the first signs of seed starting to germinate. This is most likely to occur in Spring or Autumn. Patience is key as heather seed germination seems a bit of a black art!

In the areas where last year’s brashings were scattered, the seeds will have now dropped into the soil so we can start to collect and remove the excess woody stems. This will allow improved sunlight to the seed and soil and better chances of germination. This process can take several years, even in ideal conditions.

Two trial scrapes also took place on the Clubhouse side of Binton Lane. One to the right hand side of the 15th green and another at the top of the hill between the 1st and 18th fairways. These locations were chosen as they appeared to have a number of acid loving indicator plants present, showing soil conditions likely to support the successful growth of heather. This spring we saw a bumper crop of the very pretty ‘Sheeps sorrel’ which is the red plant seen in the rough areas across various areas of the course. Sheeps sorrel is a common native found on heaths, grassland,  and in the areas with dry, sandy, well-drained acid soils. Theoretically, anywhere you see this growing, it should be possible to grow heather.

3, closely mown heather

Last Autumn, following the advice from Mike Edwards we took a more aggressive approach to the mowing of the existing heather areas. The reason for this lower height of cut was to reduce the long leggy woody stems and encourage regrowth of fresh shoots from the base of the plant.

We are delighted to see this now taking place around the course. Having said that, the scorching summer of 2018 did have a bit of an adverse effect in various sun baked areas. Overall, we are pleased to be moving strongly in the right direction with heather management, both in terms of better maintaining the existing areas, and also working towards developing new areas.

Having now removed the bulk of the long, woody stems with last years close cut mowing, going forward the heather will only require the tips to be removed each year. These tips will provide much improved brash for the the following seasons scraped areas.

Ecological rough and acid grassland

We are lucky to have some excellent areas of well managed rough which are both environmentally friendly as well as getting better year after year from the players perspective. The ongoing cut and collect programme involves an annual mow of these areas ensuring to collect and remove all of the cuttings. This process creates a net loss of nutrients and year after year, we see finer, wispier rough, which is both great for the player and also for the diversity of wildlife. Now is a wonderful time to enjoy and appreciate the great work being achieved, although still best to avoid landing in these areas!

Below... dry, acidic and low nutrient loving Sheep's sorrel thriving on both sides of Binton Lane. 


Upcoming / when time allows...

Removal of the leaning sycamore on the right hand side of the 17th fairway, will expose the stunning copper beech which is currently hidden from view. Should create a stunning backdrop to the 1st green.  Below... Photograph by Malc Billings. ('After' photo to follow, when completed).



May 2019

- If Greenkeeper time permits, some ad hoc tree work may be possible. Likely areas include, pine plantation thinning, selective thinning between the 10th and 11th holes to expose the best specimen trees.

- The leaning birch on the left side in front of the 13th will also be removed to widen the usage teeing space on the 13th tee area.

- We await further hole design drawings which will be displayed in the foyer when received.

- Following the heather mow at the end of November, it's encouraging to see the desirable regrowth of fresh green heather shoots.

- On the areas where brashings were scattered, some of the brash can now be removed as the seed will have now dropped into the soil. By removing the excess brash some added sunlight will reach the soil and is hoped to encourage germination.

- We thank the members and guests for the wonderful feedback about the course. Very encouraging.



12th Hole Plans for Autumn 2019

Improvements include; more strategic bunker positioning, expose specimen trees, improved agronomy, restore original design of the hole (rewards approach from the right side of the fairway)


15th Hole Plans for Autumn 2019



21st March 2019

Upcoming / recent works include:

- Further scrub clearance around the 10th tee.

- Ground works to level the areas affected by gorse removal, reducing root holes and rutting (more to follow in time).

- Pine thinning in the plantation to the left of the 8th fairway to restore the view of the green from 'Locke's Ledge'.

- When time allows... further pine plantation thinning in 'Colborne's Copse' (right side of 8th fairway).

- Misc thinning between 10th and 11th fairways to expose the best specimen trees and protect views of the Hogs Back.

Remarkable... shown below, several young heather plants are naturally regenerating to the left of the 5th carry, not far from the copper beech where the previous tree thinning took place. They just needed a little more sunlight.

Interested to hear from any long term members who remember seeing heather here ever before?


8th March 2019

Delighted with a short and sweet recent course review.


March 2019

Further gorse clearance taking place Wednesday 6th to Friday 8th March inclusive.

Areas likely to include: 8th hole carry, left of 9th green, front of 10th white tee, behind 14th green, right side of 17th hole, left of 18th fairway. Please check with the Pro-Shop for latest up to date information. Some hole closures may be necessary. Thank you for your understanding.


Recent Gorse Clearance - After shown below...

We look forward to seeing the natural regeneration of these areas during the upcoming Spring and Summer.

Previous image shown below...


February 2019 - Course Works Communications Letter -  Click Here to View


Course Update - Thursday 21st February.

The gorse removal programme has been in full swing since Monday and the contractor, supported by our team, has been making excellent progress.

The hard work has resulted in an exceptional quantity of gorse being cleared from around the 5th green, 6th, 7th and 8th holes.

The team are currently working behind the 10th tee between the 9th and the 11th holes... see below;

We apologise for any inconvenience caused to members whilst undertaking these works and we are very grateful for the continual comments of support to the team.

Some smoky conditions and shortened holes haven't been ideal, but the trade off has been the ability to carry out significantly more work than if we had to transport the waste materials to elsewhere on site. Burning 'in situ' has also reduced wheel wear on the course.

The removal of the gorse will enable further heather regeneration, some of which may occur naturally and elsewhere may require a little encouragement in the form of scraping and scattering of heather brashings.

On the topic of gorse, Mike Edwards & John Nicholson wrote…

“The considerable increase of gorse and broom throughout the course is of concern. Both plants form a significant threat to the heather and grassland. They can be invasive plants which, as legumes, naturally fix nitrogen from the atmosphere causing enrichment. They spread rapidly through seed and will regenerate vigorously after cutting - especially gorse. They are light demanding and will, therefore, tend to spread towards the playing surface. Of the two, gorse is the more problematic, for interference with play through difficulty in retrieving lost balls; unwanted spread and control of unwanted growth.

Where a low, evergreen screen is required Broom is therefore the preferred option of these two species. Where neither plant is desired a major removal programme is necessary in order to safeguard the grassland and heathland. Once this has been completed it will be necessary to control future regeneration before it forms a new seed source.”

Gorse conflicts with all of Colt’s principles of strategic design. 

“Gorse and water share the disadvantage that it is practically impossible to play out of them and they are a frequent cause of lost balls. It would appear, therefore, that that they should not be used to any great extent as hazards.”  HS Colt 1920.

“The characteristics of a hazard are that it should be difficult but not impossible to play out of; that it should not cause lost balls.” HS Colt 1920.

Herewith an excellent example of where gorse was removed 2018 in favour of heather regeneration and improved views of the landscape. Image below...

Above... opening up views to the stunning surrounding landscape.

“The greater the experience the writer has of designing golf courses, the more certain he is that blindness of all kinds should be avoided.”  Alistair Mackenzie Golf Architecture 1920



Woodland & Heathland Management Plan – Remaining Works February and March 2019

All works subject staffing, weather conditions and other variables.

Gorse removal – contractor re-booked for 5 days week commencing Monday 18th February. If support staff availability permits, and the contractor is available, these works may continue for a second week during March.

Pine plantation thinning around 1st, 2nd, and 18th holes. 

Whilst working in this area, the smaller birch closest to the fairway on the right hand side of the 17th hole (near the green) will be removed as it is too close to the fairway and screens the fir by the 18th tee. Ultimately the next birch in this area will also be removed to open the view of the attractive silver fir beyond but we don’t envisage having enough time to achieve this right now.

Hazel thinning between 10th and 11th holes.

Various fire sites local to work areas will reduce the need for time consuming transportation of waste material and the associated wheel marking. Likely areas include to the right hand side of 18th hole (far right/out of play) and in the area of gorse between the 8th green and 9th tee.

Whilst removing gorse and tidying around the back of the 8th green area, various areas of scrub and birch trees will also be cleared to safeguard the heath.

Information is also now regularly updated on the new notice board in the foyer.


February 2019

Recent/Upcoming works include;

- Pine & birch thinning near 7th tee

- Thinning of hazels between 10th and 11th fairways

- Contractor gorse removal booked for week commencing Monday 18th February


January 2019

Recent/Upcoming works include;

- Birch trees on the right of the 9th fairway (to aid heather regeneration)

- 5th hole tree removals on right hand side of green & approach

- Birch removal on right hand side of 2nd fairway

- Contractor gorse removal (delayed to due contractor and subsequent frost/snow)


View from 7th tee before

View from 7th tee after

5th hole tree removals - benefits include;

- Improved light and air movement

- Improved views from the 5th fairway through to the interesting topography beyond

- Enhanced views from around 7th tee area to the horizon beyond 5th and 12th 

- Improved ability to regenerate heather and environmental grasslands in this area

- Allows the remaining pines the space required to develop an open canopy


November 2018

Heather mowing took place week commencing 26th November.

Advice from Mike Edwards was used to ensure a productive process.

A closer / lower cut than in previous years will encourage the desired 'basal' regrowth.

Regrowth from the base of the plant will encourage healthy sustainability, rather than long 'leggy' shoots which become woody, deteriorate and adversely affect the longevity of the plant.

Cuttings (brashings) have been used on regeneration areas, which remain GUR.

Some areas may appear rather scalped, but this was intended and required in order to maintain the long term sustainability of heather cover.

A different machine called an Amazone was hired and used specifically to provide a closer / basal cut.

Moss accumulating amongst the heather has been exposed. Another hot dry summer with the heather mown at a lower height would help burn off the exposed moss.


The below image shows healthy, closely mown heather with this seasons regrowth evident.

Left below... heather brashings added

to recently scraped regeneration areas.

Right below... recently mown heather

 landscape on 7th hole.

Recent works include;

Thinning of pine plantations on 1st hole, including between the 1st and 2nd fairways.

Heather regeneration 'test' scrapes on 1st/18th, 15th and 17th.

Further scraping right of the 6th tee / behind the halfway hut.

Thinning of copse between the 10th fairway bunker and the 11th yellow tee. Benefits include;

- Removal of heliotropic stems

- Improved light and air movement

- Widening of the high traffic area prone to high levels of wear

- Improved agronomics to the wider area


Below;     8th hole... heather regeneration scraping works

Below;   15th hole... Stunning 'after' photo taken by Ray Heath


October 2018

15th hole improvements. Benefits include;

- Improved turf health now possible

- Reduced leaf litter

- Reduced shading of green, apron and surround

- Reduced filtering of the desirable blue light that is needed for photosynthesis 

- Improved visibility of greenside bunker

- Improved ability to develop fine acid grasslands between 14th and 15th holes

Overhead view before and after, below...

A canvas has been created for a bunker strategy review in time for the next phase of bunker works in Autumn 2019.

Below; visualisation of how the 15th could look following tree works and new bunkering.

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