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

So what can we do to tackle coastal erosion?

If coastal erosion is largely a natural process then can clubs do anything to protect their courses from the ravages of nature? Here are some of the many measures that can restrict, or prevent, damage…

Adaptive management – Accept that erosion will happen and deal with it. You might have to move tees and greens but that could cost less than trying to build defences to halt the rate of decay.

Plant dune grasses – The idea is that planting helps to trap and stabilise the sand. Marram grasses can develop yellow dunes and form a barrier that limits the effects of waves. It doesn’t so much stop erosion as provide a buffer and accelerate recovery.

Dune fencing – Fences line the seaward face of dunes and encourage wind blown sand to be deposited. They can also help recovery but they need regular maintenance and only have a five-year shelf life.

coastal erosion

Beach re-profiling – Now it starts to get a bit more expensive. Shift a load of sand, or shingle, from where deposits are being formed and move them to the hardest hit areas. The problem is that you can simply be moving the erosion problem from one area to another

Sand bags – Yes, you can use these to effectively block a beach but waves, sunlight and even vandalism makes it an unstable way of sorting the problem.

Rock walls – They armour the dune face, spread the impact of the waves and stop the shoreline eroding. It’s expensive and changes the nature of the beach.

Sea walls – Popular in the past, they are usually concrete structures that slope down to the beach and provide a fixed line of defence. They’re expensive and have a huge effect on the environment.

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How Royal Dornoch is fighting coastal erosion

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