What is the difference between Parkland and heathland?

Answered by James Kissner

Parkland and heathland are two distinct types of golf courses, each with their own unique characteristics.

1. Landscape: The main difference between parkland and heathland golf courses lies in their landscape. Parkland courses are typically surrounded by trees, giving them a more enclosed and intimate feel. On the other hand, heathland courses are more open and lack the dense tree cover. Instead, heathland courses are characterized by the presence of heather, gorse, and high grasses, which act as natural penalties to protect the course.

2. Vegetation: Parkland courses are known for their lush green fairways and manicured lawns. The trees provide shade and aesthetic appeal, but can also form obstacles for golfers. In contrast, heathland courses showcase the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside with the vibrant colors of heather and gorse. The changing colors of these plants throughout the year can create a visually stunning backdrop for golfers.

3. Course Design: Parkland courses often feature strategic placement of trees, bunkers, and water hazards to challenge golfers. The trees can affect shot selection, requiring precision and accuracy. Conversely, heathland courses rely on the natural elements like heather and gorse to provide challenges. The high grasses can swallow up errant shots, making it crucial to stay on the fairways.

4. Biodiversity: Parkland courses tend to support a greater diversity of bird species, as the trees provide nesting sites and food sources. The wooded areas can also attract other wildlife, such as squirrels and deer. In contrast, heathland courses promote a different type of biodiversity, with heather and gorse providing important habitats for insects, birds, and small mammals.

5. Maintenance: Parkland courses require regular maintenance to keep the trees healthy and the grass well-groomed. This often involves mowing, pruning, and tree care. Heathland courses, on the other hand, require less maintenance as the natural vegetation takes care of itself. However, controlling the growth of heather and gorse is necessary to ensure the course remains playable.

6. Playing Experience: The playing experience on parkland and heathland courses can differ significantly. Parkland courses are often described as more serene and scenic, with the trees providing a sense of tranquility. The tree-lined fairways can also offer shelter from the wind, making it a more comfortable playing experience. In contrast, heathland courses offer a more exposed and rugged experience, with the open landscape exposing golfers to wind and weather conditions.

The main differences between parkland and heathland golf courses lie in their landscape, vegetation, course design, biodiversity, maintenance requirements, and playing experience. While parkland courses feature trees and lush fairways, heathland courses showcase heather, gorse, and high grasses. Both types of courses offer unique challenges and aesthetic appeal, providing golfers with diverse playing experiences.