Each season during the last eight years here at Glen Echo, I have asked permission to remove trees. If its during the season and a tree has died or becomes compromised and I do not want to wait for winter, I see my chairman and or committee members and tell them of a tree that needs to be removed. They give me their blessing and its removed. I do not remove trees without a consensus on my committee.
I take my actions very seriously in regards to this work. I understand that tree removal for some is difficult. I also understand that there are people on the other side that prefer great grass to trees and expect me to do whatever I can within reason to achieve that goal. So, as a manager responsible to all members on all sides of all issues, who do I follow? Well I follow what I believe is best with my 25 years of experience in this business. I spend hours upon hours taking pictures and evaluating this work. I confer with Aborists, USGA officials, course architects and in the end I present my findings to our member committee to make the final decision and I live with their decision.
I evaluate the removal of trees based on if its dead(duh)! Is it unsafe or hazardous. Could turf conditions be improved if there were only 5 trees in a specific area than 10 and does the tree add architectural value to the course. ie, separation of holes, protection of doglegs etc. I also evaluate trees if they create extensive clean up efforts from the mess they leave on the property. If you have Sweet gum trees in your yard and you clean them up or have someone clean them up, you understand the issues. Now put this tree on a property where people spend thousands of dollars a year to come to your property and want great conditions, this creates an issue for me. Instead of doing work to improve play down the middle from tees, to fairways to greens, I'm forced to deal with other issues. If they are near greens like 2 or 3 are, they place trash on the greens from fall through mid-spring. Walnut trees should not be on a golf course but we have four or five on our course. Trees create massive amounts of work for me and my staff and compromise turf grass in many ways. But they are necessary here because of the lack of fairway bunkers, and no doubt the right species, planted the proper distance from one another in the correct location are awesome! Yes that's right I said trees can be AWESOME!!
Normally our committee meets in October and we discuss the trees that I want them to consider for removal with a tour of the course. This year, that did not occur during the usual period. With the end of the year rapidly approaching, I told the committee that I would ribbon trees that I thought should be considered for removal over the last few days and asked that they evaluate them before our meeting. Some were quite obviously in need of removal and red x's were put on the trees by me but a number of others I thought needed the evaluation and approval of the committee. I have begun to target Sweet gums from the reasons listed in the paragraph above as well as weakened and or damaged Ash which are going to be under attack from the Emerald Ash Borer. I've also discussed with the committee an attempt to save some Ash through the use of insecticides. This would include trees in strategic play areas where the loss of the tree would leave major voids. This work will cost us a few thousand dollars each season. In the meantime, we have also planted a couple of trees in some of these areas to offset some of the older species that will probably die from natural causes.
If you do not follow my blog, you should because you would have known that we are in the process of starting a 4-6 tree nursery behind 17 green. We will grow these trees for 5-10 years and then will hire the Big Tree Spade company who could move these larger trees into an area that needed more than just a 2" tree bought at a local nursery to be placed in that spot. Once a tree is removed, another will be put back in the nursery.
So, in the end what happened. We are still evaluating trees on the list. We will be placing red x's on trees that will be removed. There are a couple of trees that I was evaluating for removal but our Arborist stated that they could cable them and delay the splitting process that concerned me. Tree removal will began when all approvals have been finalized and we have time to begin the work which for the most part will not begin until after the 1st of the year.
In the end, I can't help the folks that do not want any tree removal and or those who want all the trees removed. I will work in the middle attempting to first make sure all of us are safe. I then will use all the other tools and expertise that I have at my disposal to evaluate and balance and the desires of all
members on both sides of the issue and to move your great old golf course forward.
Thanks for your time,
Certified Golf Course Superintendent
Glen Echo CC