A Successful Golf Course Enhancement Project September 20, 2019 By Patrick O'Brien, agronomist, Southeast Region

Expert tree contractors safely remove trees and stumps, allowing for improved turf health and playability. 

People are always asking: “What's the most impactful way to improve a golf course?”  The answer is easy – start a golf course enhancement project, which is otherwise known as a tree removal project.

One great example of a successful golf course enhancement project occurred this past winter at my home golf course, the Idle Hour Club in Macon, Georgia. Wade Thomas, director of agronomy, and the green committee wanted to make the golf course more fun to play. Over the years, trees had become overgrown near many key playing areas, negatively impacting the bermudagrass on teeing areas, green surrounds and in the rough. The team chose to remove 250 trees during the initial phase of this plan.

A total of nine holes were included in the initial phase of this project. The trees selected for removal were those that would provide the biggest positive impact on turf conditions and playability. A tree service was hired to remove all the marked trees at a cost of approximately $100,000. The Idle Hour maintenance staff assisted with the cleanup, stump removal, grading and sod laying. This reduced costs and allowed more tree removal work to be done. A total of approximately 3 acres of new bermudagrass sod was laid by the staff at these tree removal sites.

A few benefits of this golf course enhancement project include:

  • Bermudagrass is now flourishing in the areas where trees were removed. Bermudagrass requires high sunlight intensity, and reducing shade in the fairways, roughs and green surround areas has improved turf conditions significantly.
  • Three acres of new bermudagrass sod replaced large areas of bare dirt and tree roots. Golfers have certainly appreciated this change!
  • The architectural character has improved with the tree removal. Prior to removal, overgrown trees were causing the playing corridors to become extremely narrow in some areas, which impacted the course design. The tree removal work restored these corridors to their intended width.
  • Pace of play improved because golfers can more quickly locate shots along the edges of holes where the tree removal occurred.
  • The course remained challenging, meaning that the tree removal work did not impact the difficulty of the golf course or make the course any easier for scoring.


Finally, with this being my final regional update, I want to send my deepest thanks to everyone in the golf industry as I prepare to retire from the best job I will ever have. I feel very fortunate to have worked for the past 40 years for the USGA Green Section. The memories of meeting so many people and visiting so many golf courses are endless. I can’t wait to play more golf! 


Southeast Region Agronomists:

Chris Hartwiger, director, USGA Course Consulting Service –

Steve Kammerer, Ph.D., regional director –

Patrick M. O’Brien, agronomist –

Addison Barden, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

Contact the Green Section Staff

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