Sometimes Mother Nature Needs a Little Help
A weed is defined as any plant which is growing out of place. A
geranium in a bed of pansies is a weed, for example, and would be
removed. Similarly, a tree that blocks sunlight or impedes air
circulation alongside a green or tee could be considered a weed
and should be removed if the situation is bad enough.
Today's golf course superintendent is charged with growing
quality golf turf. The problems caused by shade, poor air
circulation, tree root competition, and litter removal make this
job difficult, if not impossible. It's a fact that the
weakest greens, tees, and fairways on practically any golf course
are those located in pockets of trees. The link between areas of
weak turf and the proximity of many trees is no coincidence.
Strong turf near trees is the exception, not the rule.
This situation is well understood by golf course superintendents.
Convincing others of the need to thin, prune, or remove these
trees, however, is not easy even though the root of the problem
is the tree, not a deficiency in the cultural maintenance
Herein lies the substance of my turf tip . . . helping Mother
Nature improve turf conditions.
The thesis is simple; nobody can complain when the forces of
Mother Nature remove trees from a golf course. Therefore, why not
harness natural forces like thunder and lightning to help the
A good example of putting Mother Nature to work was developed by
Superintendent Tim Kennelly and Green Chairman Marvin Lynch at
the Naval Academy Golf Club in Annapolis, Maryland. They named
one chainsaw Thunder and another Lightning and proceeded to
strike down the trees that were causing serious turf problems on
This tongue-in-cheek turf tip actually has a serious message for
many golf courses. Trees, shrubs, overhanging limbs, and
underbrush can cause grassgrowing problems which adversely affect
the superintendent's ability to grow healthy turf. A certain
amount of tree work is needed on practically every golf course,
despite the inevitable resistance from course officials and
Consider the following dialogue.
"Whatever happened to the trees on the right side of the
"Thunder and Lightning got them."
"By the way, have you noticed this is the first time in
years that we've had a good stand of grass on that tee?"
"Yes, it is. It's a shame about the trees, though. Guess
we'll have to plant others to replace them."
The cycle will no doubt continue. However, it is reassuring to
know that you do have Thunder and Lightning on your side.
Trees cause serious grass growing problems on golf courses, and
their removal is often necessary when this occurs. Unfortunately,
tree removal is not simple. Unless the tree is absolutely dead
and falling over, people have a difficult time agreeing to remove
it. As a result, some turf areas on many golf courses are
consistently thin and weak.