Generally a very contentious subject; however, also a very misunderstood practice.
There is no more better way of proving the benefits to fine turf playing surfaces than where there has been a success. The 12th main tee is one area in particular where this benefit is evident. Before the trees; and in particular the tree nearest the tee were removed, several times a year the side of the tee nearest the tree had to be overseeded and turfed. Apart from this waste on resources; the tee also required extra irrigation during the summer to try and prevent the grass plant suffering from drought and the competition with tree roots taking the moisture. Since these trees have been removed the 12th main tee has flourished and for the first year that can be remembered no additional work has been necessary. One other benefit of removing these trees has also seen the general tidiness of the 1st and 12th tee area. No leaves to contend with laying on the grass encouraging worms and disease; and no falling twigs and branches lying on the pathway.
If we consider the many benefits this has had; then we can take that success story forward and be more pro-active in other areas of the course. Identifying trees that have been neglected and left to flourish in areas that are not practical for producing and maintaining fine turf areas over the last 40/60 years now need to be dealt with. Had a pro-active approach with some foresight been considered many years ago, we would not been in the current position we are. Too many trees have been left to develop and increase in size with no consideration for the negative impact it will have on future conditions.
Unfortunately the responsibility now falls on us to tackle this problem. Burying our head in the sands is no longer an option. Taking steps to promote better playing surfaces and by reducing the unnecessary drain on resources is the target we must now aim for. There are plenty of mature trees outside of the main playing areas that can be left to flourish. In fact, successful woodland management focuses on removing young self-seeded trees and uncovers mature specimens which can therefore grow and develop with better shape.
We have reached a fork in the road and we either face up to the problems and tackle them head on; or we ignore what’s been gradually sneaking up on us and let conditions deteriorate further, wasting more resources than ever before. Let’s be brave and deal with the problem in hand and work in tandem with nature, while producing a financially efficient and great golf course.