Case Studies

Royal Troon hosts thriving butterfly population

Butterfly audit confirms wildlife value of 2016 Open Championship venue.

24th November 2014
Working with nature
The dark green fritillary is one of the butterflies that is found on the links at Royal Troon.  

A volunteer from the Scottish Wildlife Trust carried out a butterfly audit on the Old Course at Royal Troon Golf Club through the summer of 2014, completing transects in June, July and August.  11 of the UKs 56 species of butterfly were identified during the audit, with “thriving” populations of Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Heath and Dark Green Fritillary being recorded.  Butterfly activity is closely related to the weather and over 200 butterflies were recorded on each of the two visits carried out in sunny conditions.

11 species of butterfly

11 species of butterfly were identified, with “thriving” populations of Common Blue, Ringlet, Small Heath and Dark Green Fritillary


UK butterflies are in serious decline as many of their feeding and breeding grounds have been destroyed through urbanisation, intensification of agriculture and increased use of pesticides.

Royal Troon has an excellent record of sound environmental management, working to a comprehensive Environmental Management Plan (supported by an ornithological audit) that was produced in collaboration with The R&A’s ecological consultant, Bob Taylor of the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI).  This includes management to provide a balance of grassland and gorse to provide as great an opportunity for biodiversity as the links landscape and vegetation will allow.

David Brown, former Secretary and now Environmental Adviser at Royal Troon, commented “An important part of our Environmental Management Plan is to maximise the wildlife potential of the courses and it is extremely pleasing to read the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s findings which indicate that this goal is being achieved.”

Well-managed golf courses, such as Royal Troon, maintain a rich and varied flora and marginal scrub vegetation which provide high quality habitats for butterflies, moths and other essential pollinators.
The railway, an icon of urbanisation, still runs alongside the wildlife haven that is the links of Royal Troon

Royal Troon will host The Open in 2016 when, hopefully, the sun will shine and the grasslands will be alive with butterflies.

Carrying out audits of flora and fauna is the only way to measure the biodiversity value of the golf course.  These need to be repeated every so often so that population trends can be monitored and habitat management adjusted, if required, to encourage desirable species.