Tree Health: While many superintendents are capable of evaluating tree health, bringing in an outside arborist – preferably certified – will add value and credibility to any tree health report. Part of the health assessment should address overcrowding or overplanted areas. Not only does tree health decline in an overcrowded situation, but turf under or near trees can suffer from excessive shade, resource competition and limited air movement. Many tree-lined courses can gradually become closed in and claustrophobic as trees grow together, which can result in lost views and playability impacts.
Tree Safety: Tree failure cannot always be predicted but trees with obvious structural problems should be removed, particularly when they are near playing corridors or high-traffic areas. No matter how rare accidents from tree failure are, it is wise to remove any potential tree safety risks when they become known.
Once the initial tree inventory is completed, ongoing tree evaluation will need to continue in the future. Trees mature, weather events happen and course conditions change. These can all have immediate and long-term effects on the tree population and management priorities.
Trees can play an important role in the architecture of a golf course. Try to imagine Riviera without the towering eucalyptus and stately sycamores, Augusta National without the pines, or TPC Sawgrass without strategically placed oaks and palm trees. Because trees have a big impact on the strategy, playability and aesthetics of golf courses, golf course architects can provide invaluable assistance in determining which trees, if any, on a golf course should be preserved, re-planted or removed.
“The green committee chairman back in 1989 thought this hole was too easy, so he planted that sequoia in front of the green.” Statements like this should never drive tree management decisions.