Tree removal is the #1 project we tackle each and every year when the course is closed for the winter months and the El Nino weather pattern we’re experiencing has certainly made this an enjoyable winter to be working outside on the course. Tree removal can be a controversial topic for some but from an agronomic standpoint it is one of the easiest ways to improve turf conditions on the course. I don’t take tree removal lightly as a properly positioned tree or trees can be an important strategic element for defending the hole and its removal should be evaluated carefully. However, for reasons I’ll discuss below, tree work is an aspect of course maintenance that should never be neglected.
- Safety – This is so important for obvious reasons. I’ve seen many trees blow down on the course during high wind weather events. Most of these have been due to some kind of weak growth habit or past damage creating weak trees. Fortunately I have not had to deal with any personal injury scenarios for either crew members or golfers from these incidents as I am constantly evaluating tree health every day I tour the course in order to maintain a safe environment for the facility.
- Improve turf growing conditions – This is #1 on every superintendent’s list! After all, I’ve said this before, golf is played on turf and not in the trees and in today’s tight labor market and challenging financial conditions anything that can be done to improve the course with limited inputs is highly desirable.
- Increase pace of play – Times have changed and golfers seem to want to get in and out as quickly as possible these days. Keeping lines of site open and wooded areas clean and accessible vastly contribute to speedy play and a positive golfing experience.
- Create a clean look to the golf course – This is another aspect that definitely leads to a positive golfing experience for many. When you can be part of a park like environment for a couple hours it is very enjoyable especially with today’s hectic lifestyle many people have.
- Reduce maintenance costs – Again, with tight labor markets, reducing or eliminating all together man hours for spring and storm debris clean up is a positive thing for the bottom line. These hours can be redirected to other areas of the course that have a more direct impact on playing the game.
- Plan for future improvements – There are many areas of the course that could benefit from regrading, bunker improvement and additional mounding but encroaching tree lines make these projects impractical. Tree removal with future projects in mind keeps the course moving in a positive direction.
As you can see there is a lot of thinking, planning and evaluation that goes on with the tree management program throughout the year. A diligent course wide tree program creates a safe enjoyable playing experience to maintain and attract an active golfing community in this challenging golf market. Start up those chainsaws!