Disappearing links

[photopress:montrose2_1.jpg,full,centered]Montrose’s disappearing dunes

There’s a fascinating story in the Scotsman about the plight of some of the country’s best links as they become faced with global warming and the effects of coastal erosion.

Writer Jonathan Coates says:

The prospect of world-famous courses, upon which Scotland’s golfing reputation is built, slipping irretrievably into the sea is one that some may consider unthinkable. But the evidence is with us already.

Coates points out a number of key courses that have faced significant coastal problems, including Royal Dornoch, regularly one of the Top 20 courses in the world.

Many courses on the exposed East Neuk of Fife have invested in protective measures and are, as Crail’s David Roy says, “keeping their eye on the situation”. Royal Dornoch last year spent £300,000 of membership revenue on defences that might last up to 50 years. But Dornoch admits that if there was a devastating storm next year, the defences – and the money – could be washed away. There are, broadly, three ways of dealing with coastal erosion. The first is to install hard defences, such as rock armour and gabion baskets – stones wrapped in wire, which will be familiar to most beach-combers.

This is interesting because I’ve traveled to Montrose, Dornoch, Eden at St. Andrews and Crail, all of which are listed in the story as having erosion problems. I didn’t witness it first hand at Dornoch, but certainly saw it at Montrose, where a tee on a dune was only half there in 2004 and entirely gone when I returned this year. In response, the course has had to move tees and may be forced into more drastic overhauls, as the story in the Scotsman suggests.

But don’t think this is limited to a Scottish context. There are not that many courses on the sea in Canada, but Crowbush Cove lost an entire dune complex in a storm in 2005 and Highland Links’ lower holes (#3, #4, #6) all face erosion issues.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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