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Too Many Trees


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#1 finleysg

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 05:53 PM

I helped to run a tournament for fairly good players this weekend.  5 hcp max and a winning score of -3 for the two days. One of the things that I noted was how often the topic of "too many trees" came up from the field of players. This golf course we were playing had fast greens and long, wet rough (we've had a lot of rain), but if you strayed more than 2 or 3 paces into the rough, it didn't matter how long it was because you almost never had any way to move the ball forward anyways. The oaks and spruce (predominately) had grown so large and there were so many of them that a wayward shot was penalized severely. From the back tees, the overhanging branches were a real concern. You might want to work the ball a certain way, but the narrowness of your line of flight made that risky or impossible.

My own home track gets many of the same complaints about the trees, though our fairways are pretty generous and the grounds crew trims the trees below 6-8 ft, so it is a bit more "user friendly" than what we faced this weekend. Still, we could get rid of 1000 trees and both the golfers and the turf would be happier.

I know this topic has come up in relation to major venues like Oakmont, but what about your home course. Do you play a parkland style track, and have the trees become "too much"?

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#2 puttingmatt

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 06:16 PM

Frankly, tree lined fairways reward accuracy, and really makes for a better tournament.

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#3 SixtySomePing

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 06:28 PM

Yeah, whoever published the old golf adage 'Trees are 90% air' should've maybe had a player check it first... 'here ya go Carl, I made a few changes for ya'... 'Trees are 90% golf ball magnets' (rev. 1) ... :read:
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#4 Matt J

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 06:55 PM

I play a course with a lot of trees, but the crew does work to take some out.  At any sign of disease, they're gone.  Also, like you're saying some go all the way to the ground and result in an unplayable while others are limbed to allow some play underneath.

I've been a little annoyed lately from the tee box as you mentioned, we have tight landings and I don't think you should have to worry about overhanging limbs trying to carve them into the FW.

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#5 Santiago Golf

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 07:06 PM

I either prefer alot tall tree or no trees at all. There are some courses in California like Riviera or Bayonet, i like this look as well. I do dislike the park course that have short trees that are scattered randomly. It makes luck to much of a factor

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#6 Big Ben

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 07:19 PM

I'm in Cleveland and we have tons of very old Midwest parkland style Country Clubs. The trees are so old and far too big in my opinion. Many courses are beginning removal programs and it's a good thing...BB

Edited by Big Ben, 20 August 2017 - 07:20 PM.

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#7 dbrokee

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 07:47 PM

I don't care too much about the trees. It's the water hazards that get me. My ball goes into water like flies on dog poop

Edit: missing a word

Edited by dbrokee, 20 August 2017 - 07:47 PM.

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#8 larrybud

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 07:59 PM

There are many courses in my area in which someone needs to break out the chainsaw.   Not a fan of courses in which you're blocked out when being in the fairway.

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#9 Conrad1953

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 09:03 PM

Don't care much for overgrown golf courses. Trees grow.......how about that.
Tree removal costs money so some courses don't have the funds. I have
played a muni near where I live that was once a top 50 muni in the country.
Now it's a joke cause the greens don't get enough sun. Also you can stand
just about anywhere on the course and listen to all the balls bouncing off
trees, lol. Sounds like a flock of woodpeckers were set loose on the course.

I'm fine with trees or no trees but when they start to ruin the course get
them out, cut them back or do something to save the greens and have
a reasonable golf course to play.
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#10 andrue

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 01:12 AM

My home course is tree lined but it's not really a problem. If you are careless enough to hit a ball into the trees you often still have a shot and if not you just punch out to the fairway. What I dislike in a course is thick, knee-high grass where your chances of finding a wayward ball are low.

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#11 TollBros

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 03:16 AM

I agree with the complaints. I played a tournament at a near 100 year old course a few weeks back. There were 6-7 holes with trees overhanging so far that you simply could not hit a fade off the tee at all. Also miss the fairway by more than 10 feet and you were guaranteed to be blocked out from hitting a normal shot at the green. The trees had just grown far too large for the course and changed the way it was designed. It's a private track and the membership is 90% men 65 and older who hit it 230 or less. They like it because most good players have to hit irons off so many tee boxes because of the massive obstructions. Frankly, it was no fun at all.
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#12 No Catchy Nickname

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 03:30 AM

As Conrad said, trees grow, and that can completely change the way the course plays, often turning a good course into a nightmare. A couple of examples.
I played a course recently with a dogleg left par 5. Downhill off the tee, uphill into the green (pretty severe uphill).Left is OB, and it's all trees. When the course was built about 60 years ago, the trees were newly planted, and good players had a classic risk/reward option of cutting the corner of the dogleg off for their second shot and going for the green. Back in the days, this would more assuredly mean hitting a persimmon 3 or 5 wood. Now, that option is no longer viable. Long hitters might just get a shot at the green if they get the ball out right off the tee, but staying away from the thick rough, and then hit a big draw around the corner to the green. But their landing spot is tiny off the tee.
Now it's still a good par 5, but the option of going for it has gone because of the trees.

The other example is a course that has at trees on the fairway on at least six holes. One is a severe dogleg right. To be honest, you could go for the green with driver, but there's OB everywhere, and no way to know where your ball ends up, so most players take the safe option of hitting straight down the fairway (about 190 yards), then hitting the second from about 160 uphill into the green. Except there a two massive trees in the way ON THE DAMN FAIRWAY!! Years ago, these would have been little decorations and easy to hit over, but now they are right there blocking out the green. Any layup is a craps shoot, because you have no way of knowing off the tee how these two trees will block you out. They need to go.
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#13 Mudguard

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 04:48 AM

I can't stand big trees guarding greens. We're on a new course and they occasionally have the tees positioned so that you need to hit a low shot, on a hole where you want to be getting as far down the fairway as possible. This is because of some large trees about 30m in front of the tee to the right with low branches. The prevailing wind is off the right too, so you're forced to try hit a low cutting hybrid.
These holes are always fun. Par 5, having a go in two, though there isn't really much point.


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#14 andrue

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 05:09 AM

 Mudguard, on 21 August 2017 - 04:48 AM, said:

I can't stand big trees guarding greens.
You won't like the 11th at Silverstone, UK (Sister of my club):

https://www.google.c...=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

It's a long par 5 with that mess at the end. Left has no room. Right has a hedge and a pond.

There's also very little space behind the green so if you go over the tree you'd better hope the ball is going to stop.

And this is what it looks like from the ground:

https://goo.gl/photo...jTZqRfZU6krydd8

I find that the best approach is to sneak round the left of the tree. Unfortunately that means leaving the fairway and with the sun being mainly to the left that stretch of 'light' rough is usually lush and often damp. Oh and what you can't see from that satellite view is a rough trench where the original hedge was grubbed out.

My club membership entitles me to play Silverstone for free but I don't do it often. It has a lot of nasty holes that mean unless I'm on the top of my form it's a toil of a pleasure.

Edited by andrue, 21 August 2017 - 05:12 AM.

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#15 Ferguson

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 05:40 AM

The cost to keep trees cut back is enormous.

Better fairways and greens, or getting the overgrowth cut back - it's a choice.


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#16 CheckJV

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 06:15 AM

There is one par 3 at my home club where the trees have grown so large on both sides of the fairway we can't use the right or left sides of the tee boxes anymore.  

A few trees as strategic elements on a golf course are wonderful.  Too many trees that force only one shot option are horrible.  

Last thought, sometimes you need to decide if you are running a tree farm or a golf course.

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#17 larrybud

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 06:16 AM

I can't believe there aren't services that will cut them for a very small price and be allowed to keep and sell the wood.

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#18 Matchplay10033

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 06:29 AM

Just played in a tournament this weekend where multiple greens were partially obstructed by trees.   I did not mind this because it brought some strategy into the round but they also put the tees all the way back.   I think 3-4 tee shots were almost like hitting out of caves.   I have always had a very high ball flight and barely made it under the trees on 3 of the tee shots and clipped the tree on the 4th.   That pissed me off.

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#19 Big Ben

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 06:41 AM

 larrybud, on 21 August 2017 - 06:16 AM, said:

I can't believe there aren't services that will cut them for a very small price and be allowed to keep and sell the wood.
Thats a great point, market specifically to the golf courses would seem wise. BB
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#20 larrybud

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 06:42 AM

Maybe someone in the tree business can enlighten us.  Seems like a no brainer.  I'm sure the golf course doesn't want the wood either.


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#21 finleysg

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 06:51 AM

The course I described in the OP was formerly a private club. Overgrown trees seem to be more prevalent at old country clubs in my experience. In fact, the US Sr. Am is being played at Minikahda, one of the few Donald Ross courses in the Twin Cities. I remember caddying for a friend there about 15 years ago. There were sides of the fairway at that time that left you no shot to the green. Wonder if some of that has been cleaned up...

I am pretty sure the expense is what stops many courses from removing trees. Just not a priority, unless a green or tee box is dying.
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#22 dpb5031

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 06:52 AM

I believe the greatest golf courses will still hold their own if even if every tree were removed.  I like the idea of trees as aesthetic enhancers rather than obstacles.  

Now of course I know that trees are an integral part of many designs (like Harbourtown) but that type of course is not as appealing to me as those with less obtrusive trees.

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#23 mark m

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 08:15 AM

The fact is many trees are planted by members or managers who know very little about golf. I would highly recommend books by course architects like Tom Doak or Alister MacKenzie for their thoughts on tree types and how and where to place them. The trend of the last 20 years of removing trees - made famous by Oakmont - has been good for golf in many ways. Better air movement, improved turf, more playable, enhanced vistas, etc. A tree removal idea/program can become an emotional issue and therefore difficult to address. It's like anything, you need to manage your trees or they can quickly become an almost overwhelming problem in terms of work and expense. My home course is going to need a ton of work this fall and winter as things have become overgrown and it looks really bad in some areas.

In regards to the Minikahda Club which is hosting the Senior Am. This club is over 100 years old. They renovated the golf course in the early 2000's. This included the removal of hundreds of trees, relocation of bunkers, and improving the tees. I played it before in the 90's and after, and I like the new version. If you look at photos from the early days, there were basically very few trees on the property. (This is common when you look at the old school clubs that have undertaken tree removal programs.) One of the things they did at Minikahda that some of the members did not like - was having longer fescue grasses around the edges of some of the bunkers. Some wanted a groomed look. I last played it about 5 years ago and not sure if this feature survived. It plays about 6700-6800 from the back tees and usually in immaculate condition. I have heard Interlachen in Edina has also removed many trees(?) I was last out there for the Women's Open in 2008. I've been fortunate to play LACC North twice since the renovation and tree removal - and it is stunning.

I have to admit that I have a few friends that like a lot of trees and "hole separation." They tend to be medium length and straight hitters.
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#24 HawkeyeHacker

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 08:53 AM

I like trees on a course and when I'm in them I deserve to be punished (which happens often).  However, our course is loaded with ash trees (probably over 50%) and the emerald ash borer is starting to take them out.  Within about 5-7 years they'll all be gone.  The course will play easier, but I'll miss them.

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#25 warfelg

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 09:38 AM

 larrybud, on 21 August 2017 - 06:42 AM, said:

Maybe someone in the tree business can enlighten us.  Seems like a no brainer.  I'm sure the golf course doesn't want the wood either.

One course I worked at took down quite a few trees, then proceeded to make tee markers, cart blockades, range spot dividers, and benches for on the course with the trees they took down.  Left over wood was chipped up and used instead of ordering mulch.  All stuff the course needed that year and ended up $2500-7500 (I can't remember exactly) ahead in the end from ordering all those parts and taking down the trees. (even with equipment rental)

Turned out pretty well, and although I'm not at the club anymore, I think they could do more tree removal.  There's a three hole loop where all three struggle with air movement because of a huge slope that has a creek at the base of it.  The super wants to leave it as is because the brush and trees (mind you almost nothing is trimmed in those areas) "hold the dirt in place in a way grass can't".  I called BS, and the area wouldn't only do better without the trees, but visually it could be very very striking if done right.  

https://goo.gl/maps/o7ATCnewLJK2

The par 4 (up top) would have a great view down into the valley (bottom of the map) and you could have wasteland there instead of a marked hazard (that fairway is roughly 20 yards wide and would take a shot over 100 yards off line to get down to the par 5).  The par 5 could then get some sand on the left side of the fairway, and the fairway could be pulled more to the right off the tee.  I've even suggested once or twice, since the hole is only 501 yards, that in doing so they could pull the green 40 yards closer and right next to the creek, creating a very visually stunning par 4, which then lets you lengthen the straight uphill 280 yard par 4 into a uniquely contoured uphill 320 yard par 4 that could play a lot longer and really challenge players.

Anyways a bit rambling but my TL;DR
I don't think there's a such thing as "too many trees" more so than there's a problem with the upkeep and placement of them.  The upkeep more than anything but I get it because for most courses keeping the trees trimmed up and looking good doesn't really drive more income.


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#26 HiSpeed48

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 10:05 AM

I like a lot of trees. Forces you to hit different shots.

Forest Park GC in Queens NY is a real test of ballstriking. It's short, 6000 yds, but for average golfers it can be quite a challenge to navigate the narrow fairways and overhanging trees. The conditioning is atrocious but it's still one of my favorite courses.
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#27 elwhippy

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 10:48 AM

Come and visit my home course. Treeline is where the Sasquatch lives...thick grass, low and overhanging branches. Trees equally penalty shot. I laugh when I see tour events where a players blocks or hooks it into the trees and hits a 4 iron onto the green....

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#28 MrJones

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 10:53 AM

My course plays short and the difficulty of it is all about the tree lined fairways and trees guarding greens. I dislike when you're almost forced to shape a shot off the tee a certain way because tree limbs are protruding out. I also hate that we have two holes where you can hit a good shot and be in the fairway but have no shot at the green.

If you cut all of the trees that come into play though at my course it would make playing there extremely easy to the point of ruining it.
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#29 Nard_S

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 11:44 AM

 larrybud, on 21 August 2017 - 06:42 AM, said:

Maybe someone in the tree business can enlighten us.  Seems like a no brainer.  I'm sure the golf course doesn't want the wood either.

 larrybud, on 21 August 2017 - 06:42 AM, said:

Maybe someone in the tree business can enlighten us.  Seems like a no brainer.  I'm sure the golf course doesn't want the wood either.

Tree removal is quite expensive because it is dangerous and there is high liabilty insurance to carry and  risks to property and the people who do the work. Cherry pickers and wood chippers are not cheap by any means. Wood only commands decent prices when oil is over  $100 a barrel, The cost of cutting a cord and delivering takes most of the profit out of it.

In my neck of the woods, removing one mature tree can run $1500 easily.

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#30 Conrad1953

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 11:49 AM

 MrJones, on 21 August 2017 - 10:53 AM, said:

My course plays short and the difficulty of it is all about the tree lined fairways and trees guarding greens. I dislike when you're almost forced to shape a shot off the tee a certain way because tree limbs are protruding out. I also hate that we have two holes where you can hit a good shot and be in the fairway but have no shot at the green.

If you cut all of the trees that come into play though at my course it would make playing there extremely easy to the point of ruining it.

Trees should not be the only defense of the course, IMO, and a course
need not be long to be difficult. I understand though at some courses
you're kinda stuck with what you have for financial reasons.

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