Golf and coastal erosion: Introduction
Clear the pines that frame the back of the 9th green and the way paves to thick dunes almost as far as the vision allows. The Irish Sea is out there but it’s a keen eye that can scan over the mounds of grass and sand to find those specks of blue in the distance.
It’s close to 200 metres away and it’s only at this point, stood on the 10th tee at Formby, that the realisation finally dawns of the destructive power coastal erosion is having on our links golf heritage.
For in the space of a single lifetime, none of it will exist. Formby Point is the fastest eroding coastline in the UK, according to club secretary/manager Stuart Leech, and Mother Nature is encroaching on the historic fairways and greens at the rate of two and a half metres a year.
By 2085, the coast will be at the championship blue tee – leaving the club planning for a future without some of their most attractive holes.
Formby are by no means the only club facing this problem. Last year, the Climate Coalition warned that Open venues like St Andrews and Royal Troon could be under water by the end of the century if sea levels rose as a result of climate change.
Coastal erosion, both natural, man made and linked to changing weather patterns, is already lapping at the edges of many our links treasures – with Montrose and Royal North Devon among those taking evasive action to try and stop the tides.
But how big is the problem, and can anything be done about it?
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