On Saturday my friends and I headed down the A4 through Augher, Clogher and Fivemiletown to play in an Open at Enniskillen Golf Club.  The course is set in the beautiful Castlecoole estate, with many ancient trees and interesting shrubs lining the fairways.  The back nine is designated an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI), the first parkland golf course in N Ireland to receive this recognition, so there were lots of species of flora and fauna to interest us. The highlight for one of our four-ball was meeting a leaping frog as we searched for wayward drives in the rough!

The course was in great condition and there was a lot of run on the fairways thanks to the recent spell of dry weather, so I started off well.  It didn’t last long though!  However, the craic was great throughout and the sun shone, so we had a great day out.  If you’ve played Enniskillen you’ll be aware that there are some challenging holes and the fourth, Castle Wood, is index number 1.  Standing on the tee the fairway looks open and inviting, however if you look closely you may spot a solitary tree in the middle at the brow of the hill.  (It’s very hard to see in this photo, but you can see how wide the fairway is!)



Our longest hitter stepped onto the tee and promptly sent a ball down the middle of the fairway at high speed – we watched as it flew just left of the tree and disappeared out of sight.  It looked to be in a perfect position to approach the green.  Our next player stepped up and turned to us for advice.  “Aim for the tree” was the response – and that’s what she did!  We watched, open-mouthed, as the ball sped through the air in the direction of the tree.  Time seemed to slow down as it rolled nearer and nearer to the tree, until it finally came to rest at the foot of the one and only tree in the middle of an otherwise wide-open fairway!

Poor Alexis – it had been a great shot and it would have been perfect if it had been a foot to the side!  Nevertheless, she didn’t let our laughter (we’re not at all sympathetic) put her off and she kept her head.  She managed to score at that hole and went on to finish with the best score of our four ball!


I mentioned earlier that the back nine is an Area of Special Scientific Interest and the ecologists out there will know that ASSIs are “protected areas that represent the best of our wildlife and geological sites that make a considerable contribution to the conservation of our most valuable natural places.”  We noticed many very old trees.  Here’s one to the left of the 17th fairway.



Did you know that you can estimate the age of a tree by measuring the circumference of its trunk?  The last time we played here we tried to estimate the circumference by counting how many arm spans it took to go around the trunk, at chest height!  I’m glad no one was watching! I think it was around three-and-a-bit arm spans. Anyway, doing some maths led us to believe that this tree was over three hundred years old.  Next time we’ll bring a tape measure!

If you’re interested…

Trees grow at different speeds. The figures below show the rate at which the circumference of different trees increases:

– Holly, Yew: 1.25cm / year

– Oak: 1.88cm / year

– Ash, Beech, Elm, Hazel: 2.5cm / year

– Sycamore: 2.75cm / year

– Pine, Spruce: 3.13cm / year

So the next time you’re out, why not measure the girth of a tree trunk (at 1.5m height) and divide this by the growth rate to find out its age?