Some of our most precious golfing treasures are fading away with every passing tide and storm. This special NCG investigation looks at how coastal erosion is changing the links landscape

Golf courses and coastal erosion: Montrose

The dagger shaped split that’s carved close to the fairway just in front of the 2nd tee both thrills and frightens golfers.

There’s not much separating you from the clifftop and a decent sized drop onto the beach below. It feels like there’s no guarantee a strong gust won’t send you tumbling over at any given moment.

Golf has been played at Montrose for more than 450 years but that history is at risk of being washed away.

Storm Deidre threatened to do just that last December. It deposited hundreds of tonnes of sand all over the course – the dunes having now eroded to the point where they no longer offer any protection.

Research from Dundee University reveals the North Sea has moved 70 metres towards Montrose in the last three decades, caused by reduced sediment and rising sea levels.

It’s imperilled the links but, as links director John Adams reveals, there’s another huge problem.

“The sand has secreted north and the beach profile has changed,” he explains. “We’ve got virtually no sight of dunes but a hell of a lot of sand.

coastal erosion

“Montrose is the most at risk place in Scotland for flooding. Golf is important but Montrose town itself is significantly at risk and there’s a funding package being looked into.”

The 2nd hole is clearly the most eye-catching example but Adams says there is slippage all across that coastline.

“Since a walkabout earlier this year we’ve lost another metre of dunes. We lost two and a half metres last year and we lost eight metres on our old third hole.

“But it’s not just the golf. It’s the town and that’s the emphasis. I’m more concerned about walking down the 15th, looking through the gap out to sea, and seeing the bottom of a ship.”

coastal erosion

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