Not so much from the perspective of "classic courses", but a lot of places could benefit from getting rid of trees. ... Simple fact is a lot of us just aren't that good.
Lately, it seems that the ash borer has had more to do with tree removal at my area courses than any concept of design. Community GC in Dayton even more wide open than it was before.
Truly fairway optional.
I am comfortably in the fairway if I hit my normal fade and I am hitting 3 on the tee if I sliced my first drive. I line up on the right side of the tee as far as allowed and do not aim left but align myself to where I want the ball to end up.
I am in agreement with @saevel25 on this one. Design intent is important, and I wish that more courses out there would be "restored" to their original intent. In most cases the addition of trees just eliminated more angles to the green, while also making the holes play more penal for the average golfer than originally intended. I play a lot of tree lined courses, so I am not against the trees...just not a fan of them changing the intent of the design with them.
Interesting that you mention this, because I just saw a couple of tweets about this pop up in my timeline. For example:
I think tree removal is almost uniformly a good thing. Most classic courses were designed to be wider than they are today. Trees have narrowed it, making the course more difficult and not play as intended. In that picture above, you have the best angle to the green blocked out by those trees.
The other, more important thing to me, is that classic courses doing tree removal sets an example for other courses. I've played many courses that are not nearly as nice as a "classic course" that have wild, unmanageable trees. A lot of those trees overhang the fairway, making the fairway narrower and the hole more difficult. A lot of these trees have low branches that make recoveries, and sometimes finding your ball, impossible. Most courses were not meant to have trees like that and have just been left unmanaged. If Shinnecock taking out trees filters down, I'm all for it. It makes courses easier, which is a good thing.
I'm sure some people scoff at trees coming down and making courses easier. Remember that most golf is played by people who aren't very good. Making courses easier makes the game more fun for those people, and they're more likely to come back.
As an example of this, my home course recently took out about a dozen trees. These trees only came into play off the tee for average players. Removing the trees made the tee shots look easier and play easier for average players. They also opened up sight lines for better players to take more aggressive (and risky) tee shots. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures to show of this, but it was a great decision by the course. The course plays just as hard for good players, but slightly easier for average players. I have heard no one complain about this.
Sure, there's a time and place for trees. And recoveries from the trees can be really fun. But the vast majority of courses have not figured out that balance and are just letting their trees run wild.