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My club wants to cut down alot of trees.....opinions?

Poll Results: Do you think cutting down trees in a parkland course is a good idea

 
  • 38% (7)
    Yes - trees are awful and should be sparingly used on golf courses
  • 61% (11)
    No - trees are great, learn to hit it straight
18 Total Votes  
post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I belong to a very nice mid-level country club in central NJ.  We have a great golf course on hilly terrain. 

 

We are a family owned club (non-equity), and management changed recently.  The new managers and the owning families are, happily, very interested in golf course and making improvements to both the course and the clubhouse.

 

However, one of the things they are doing that has caused controversy is cutting down alot of trees.

 

Our course has hundreds of trees.  And they are not the good kind of tree for golf (if there is such a thing)....they are large, in some cases enormous pines, some with branches that go quite low.  

 

The pines are not indigenous to this area, it's more of a hardwood area, so all of these trees were planted when the course was built 70-80 years ago, probably to define the holes to some degree.  The trouble is now that the trees are so overgrown, they make play difficult.  They also cause problems with grass in some areas.  

 

Hurricane Sandy brought down about 150 trees, but we could easily remove 200 more and there would still be trees all over the course.

 

Anyway, I _like_ the idea of removing trees, but I am surprised that many members, particularly long time members and high handicappers, are vehemently opposed to cutting down trees.  I don't know why, other than the fact that they think the trees are the "signature" of our course, and that they think it's too easy if you don't have trees.  

 

What is everyone's opinion?

I think "specimen" trees on holes are a great idea.  If there are maybe one or two trees on the side of a fairway, if you hit a ball over there, there is a _chance_ that a tree will pose a challenge to you, having to hit over, under, or around it.  You still are worse off than hitting the fairway, but you have the fun of trying to recover, and it tests your skill in controlling the ball flight.  But hitting into a stand of trees, you are dead and have no choice but to chip sideways. Certainly lots of trees test our skill in hitting the ball straight, but the skill of recovery shots isn't tested at all.  And never mind the fun factor....who likes punching out?  

 

My belief is that the game is hard enough as it is; I think you could cut down nearly every tree on the course and handicaps wouldn't change much at all.  Bad players who hit where the trees would have been will simply hit a bad second shot, instead of a punch out, and end up about the same.  And the good players aren't in the trees much anyway.  

 

Seems like a no brainer to me, but many of my fellow members disagree.  

 

Just wondering what everyone else thinks about this.  Good idea or bad?

post #2 of 24

Without understanding the specifics, I can't really offer an opinion on your unique situation, but as a general rule, I'd be hesitant to remove too many trees.  Once they're gone, they're gone.  There are plenty of flat, wide open, boring tracks out there......I tend to prefer something a little more interesting.

post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 

Some more specifics--

 

The trees in question are mostly pines, many of them "Christmas tree" shapes, with very wide branches.  They are very tall and some have 30-40 foot "wingspans".  A few years back, many had their lower branches trimmed, so that there were no branches lower than about 10 feet, but that has had limited effect, as the surviving branches simply droop down.  

 

Of course this isn't the kind of thing that you can really do well with words; as you suggest, you have to see it to really make an intelligent comment on our specific situation.


But I'm also interested in about peoples' thoughts regarding trees in general, too, and if any of your own golf courses have tree issues or are cutting down trees.  

post #4 of 24
I know exactly the type of pine tree yu're talking about. My in-laws had one n their front yard. It is enormous and dominates the yard and not in a good way. I think I'm in agreement with you about the trees. I prefer course where "tree trouble" doesn't automatically mean lost ball or punch out. The course I play has trees that will penalize errant shots but with a little luck you can still recover.

These mammoth pine trees can be selectively replaced by indigenous hardwoods if desired. These pine trees block out most of the un so that only moss and mushrooms can grow.
post #5 of 24

I'm generally in favor of removing trees. You don't go "Full Oakmont" style, but most golf courses could lose 50% of their trees and be better for it. Fewer trees results in more sunlight reaching more areas, better air flow, and more recovery shots while still resulting in "clearly defined" holes and "pretty scenery."

 

I disagree with @David in FL and think that he's been playing golf in Florida too long where they don't typically have the kinds of trees we have in the northeastern states.

post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post
 

I'm generally in favor of removing trees. You don't go "Full Oakmont" style, but most golf courses could lose 50% of their trees and be better for it. Fewer trees results in more sunlight reaching more areas, better air flow, and more recovery shots while still resulting in "clearly defined" holes and "pretty scenery."

 

I disagree with @David in FL and think that he's been playing golf in Florida too long where they don't typically have the kinds of trees we have in the northeastern states.

 

Entirely possible!  :-)

 

As I said, without seeing exactly what the OP means, it's tough to give an opinion on his particular course though.....

post #7 of 24

There is no correct answer for all courses.

 

In the case of Oakmont Country Club, the course has removed approximately 6,000-7,000 trees to restore the original look of the early 1900's. I should also say that the course also added some new sand traps, and deepened the fairway bunkers to the extent that it is usually a "chip-out" with little chance to reach the green.  The club also put the watering system in the rough, so that it now is thick and healthy.  I do have to say that the lack of trees has made play in the fall a lot more fun, not to mention the savings in maintenance, and has eliminated the "leaf rule," for lost balls in big piles of leaves.

 

I do think that there are times that trees do need to be removed, especially when they overly shade a green and it becomes unhealthy due to the lack of sunlight. Or, when a tree is "dirty" (like weeping willows or certain pines), removal, or at least trimming is mandated. The course that I play regularly, River Forest in Freeport, Pennsylvania, has taken out weeping willows that overhung a green, and the green is much healthier and a lot cleaner. In addition, the course also has a number of pine trees, but has cut off the bottom branches, 4 to 6 feet, so that the course is cleaner, it is easier to find the ball, and the player has an opportunity put their ball back in play.

 

Is this what every course should do? I don't think so, trees add a unique character and an amount of strategy to the player's management. Every course needs to determine what works best for them.

post #8 of 24
I have no problem with removing trees from a golf course if it helps the course or they no longer serve their original intent. I play at a small town club in Central Texas that was built over 50 years ago. There are trees in the middle of several fairways that would have been in play for a long drive years ago, but now they are right in the landing area of a well struck drive center of the fairway. Two of them are so large that the best play now is to hit to the side of them into an adjacent fairway.
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Lex View Post

 

 

Seems like a no brainer to me, but many of my fellow members disagree.  

 

Just wondering what everyone else thinks about this.  Good idea or bad?

 

It's not uncommon to remove and/or replace trees to retain the original character of a course.  Especially one like yours where the trees have grown out of control.  I'd say that from your description, it's probably a good idea.

post #10 of 24
Big Lex,

I'd say the majority if those who oppose the idea would oppose trees being removed regardless of the situation.

The thing about Pine trees is that they are fast growing trees but worse still, they make it impossible for anything else to grow around them.

My club remodelled one of its tee areas over the winter which involved removing a very large tree (I think it was pine) which I thought was a big mistake at the time. However now the tee area is open the removal of that tree has allowed light to stream in with the benefit if ensuring the tee box dries quickly after rain!

So the removal of that tree was beneficial for the golf course but i would say I would get "upset" if it was an old Oak tree they had removed.

Regards

Mailman
post #11 of 24

Playing golf in the summer in Phoenix, AZ, I wish every fairway was lined with big, leafy sequoias that had misters attached to them throughout the fairway. Ever play golf in 114 degree heat with few trees to save you? Jeesh! This is probably one of the few places in the world where MORE trees is probably in order. Then again, what moron plays golf in 114 degree heat?

post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourputt View Post

 

It's not uncommon to remove and/or replace trees to retain the original character of a course.  Especially one like yours where the trees have grown out of control.  I'd say that from your description, it's probably a good idea.

 

A couple of years ago, I stumbled onto a blog site specializing in tree issues for golf courses. Unfortunately, I can't find it today. But, I remember a few things from the site:

  • One old-line club in Ohio found aerial photos of the course from the 1930s. Most of the fairways were 60 yards wide, with many fewer trees than in the early 2000s.
  • These three factors contributed to tighter fairways after World War II:
    1. Arrival of center-pivot sprinklers: installed down the middle of the fairway, the water cast was 20 yards left and right, thus fairways 40 yards wide.
    2. Free trees on Arbor Day: originally designed to benefit families, golf courses got excess trees and planted them in the rough
    3. Volunteer trees: acorns from oaks and seeds from other species of trees scattered into the rough, and many took root and became sizable trees

 

Probstein Golf Course in Forest Park (St. Louis) has a systematic tree-clearing plan. Whenever I play, there's always a couple of dozen trees sprayed with an X, meaning they will be cut down. If you end up with a patch of wolf trees - trees whose canopies have grown together - the ground gets little sunlight, and you can start having erosion problems when the grass and ground cover dies.

 

About five years ago, Old Warson Country Club cut down some 200 trees. Certain fairways were starting to lose their grass because of too much shade from the ever-expanding tree canopies.

 

Lex, realize that pine and other evergreen trees cause problems when in the main line of play. The shallow root systems can damage mowing equipment, and also injure golfers who hit a pine root an inch below the surface of the rough. 

 

 

Here are links offering advice on trees and golf courses:

 

http://www.golfcoursearboristtreeservice.com/

 

http://www.usga.org/course_care/articles/management/trees/Man-s-Friend-or-Golf-s-Enemy-/

 

https://www.usga.org/uploadedFiles/USGAHome/course_care/green_section_record/2009/nov_dec/selecting_planting_trees.pdf

post #13 of 24

I belong to a 106 year old club outside of Philly that is a classic parkland course.  There are many courses in the area with similar characteristics that are anywhere from 80 to 100 years old and when they were originally built they had very few trees. The ones that were there were native deciduous trees.

 

For some reason, all these courses started planting pine trees, mostly in the 50' and 60's, to separate the holes and in a very short time they began to define the holes. Turf conditions suffered, primarily in the rough, and greens were hard to maintain due to lack of air and sun. This became true of courses all throughout the region.

 

About 8 years ago we decided to change the irrigation on the course and put twin tracks on every hole closer to the rough instead of the one track we only had down the middle. We found that, in a lot of cases, it didn't help the rough because of the lack of air and sun. We started removing trees and 6 years and about 600 removed trees later the course is a revelation. Besides the vastly improved turf conditions we now have added a stunning "wow" factor to our beautiful, hilly property. It has not made the course necessarily easier, in fact scores reflect that it is more difficult to score due to the robust rough that used to be thin and patchy. There were numerous areas where we had double jeopardy due to being in a bunker plus being behind a tree, something I know the classic Philly architects abhorred.

 

 A lot of courses in the area have followed suit and they are all improved. The key is getting rid of the pine trees because, when you have a lot of them, they just choke the golf course. I'll try to provide before and after pictures, as I have loads of them loaded on one of my hard drives somewhere.

post #14 of 24

I voted to save the trees, but would like to see pictures from the tee box on all 18 holes to make a more educated decision.

post #15 of 24

At the course where I used to be a member most of the fairways were lined with huge trees and on that course it was needed to offer a certain amount of protection from adjoining fairways. There are three holes (two par 5s and a par 4) that are side by side. 

 

The trees keep golfers from just bombing away and not minding if they are using another fairway and very few balls accidentally hit off line make it through the trees. I would actually not like that course at all if any of those trees were removed and there's really plenty of room between the tree lines for reasonably accurate golfers to not have much problem.

 

Where I play now there are less trees in play except on the course boundary line which is OB anyway. I would like to see a few more trees on that course but we've lost some to lightning strikes and had to cut a few more that were too close to the greens and were hindering the grass growing.

 

There is one huge oak tree right in the middle of a par 5 fairway at about 320 yards from the tee. If you hit a really good tee shot right down the middle you are rewarded with having to deal with that tree on your second shot. Of all of the trees on the course that's the one that needs a really good lightning strike but it never gets hit. We have the option of hitting the fairway to either the right or left of the tree but those are fairly small targets with a driver and OB on the right and more trees on the left. Maybe the hole would be too easy if not for the tree though because it's only 500 yards with an uphill tee shot?

 

Overall I guess I don't mind trees as long as there is at least 50 or 60 yards between the tree lines on driver holes and no trees with overhanging limbs cutting off approach shots to the green after pretty good tee shots. If I don't keep my tee shots in a 60 yard path between the trees I figure I deserve to pay the price for it.

 

Edit: To the OP. Do you have any pics? Here is the tree in the middle of the par five (looking back toward the tee) that needs to go.

post #16 of 24

What's the name of the course? If it is in central NJ I've likely played there before.

post #17 of 24

This is an impossible question to answer without knowing more info.............

 

 

Many of the finest courses in the US/world have purged a hundreds of trees in an attempt to make the course play how the original designers intended.   over the course of 50-100 years........trees are constantly added, and at some point, a RESET is necessary. 

 

 

Winged Foot, Oakmont, Baltusrol, and many other world famous courses have purged large quantities of trees in recent redesigns/course updates............... it worked out well for them.    Whether or not removing trees is good or bad just depends!   I did not vote because there isn't enough info. 

post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lihu View Post

I voted to save the trees, but would like to see pictures from the tee box on all 18 holes to make a more educated decision.

I think giving your patrons before and after photos so they can see the work being carried out and the benefits being delivered to the course will help everyone get an idea of what is going on.

Regards

Mailman
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