Golf Course Landscaping: How Tree Removal Services Impact Course Design
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On every golf course, trees play a huge role in both playability and aesthetics. Tree-lined fairways can look stunning and guide a good drive down the fairway, but can also be restrictive and unforgiving if not done right.
In the same way, a lone tree on the fairway can be an exciting and challenging hazard, or it could be something that just gets in the way and reduces the playability of that hole.
But it’s up to golf course designers to use trees in a positive way when it comes to landscaping their courses. Tree removal and relocation is part and parcel of effective golf course design, even for designers looking to route their course around the natural landscape as much as possible.
Here’s why golf course designers think more about trees and their placement than you might realize!
Create Strategic Challenges for Golfers
Trees are more than just pretty natural attractions on a golf course. They can be used to create strategic challenges for golfers, providing hazards that force the golfer to think out of the box when it comes to shot selection and golf club choice.
But they can also do the opposite and obstruct gameplay, leaving players with no choice but to waste a shot getting past the hazard. Removing or relocating trees to more strategic areas can go a long way toward making a golf course design both aesthetically pleasing and playable for all levels of golfers.
Open Up Sightlines
Sightlines, especially from the tee, are important. While it’s not incredibly hard to figure out where you want your shot to go, more advanced golfers will miss out on the chance to play more strategically off the tee and on approach shots if there’s a tree obstructing their sightlines.
Tree removal is an important part of sculpting fairways to be the best mix of challenging and fair. At the same time, if a particular hole is a little too open, introducing trees can bring the level of challenge up a bit.
It’s up to golf course designers to decide if tree removal or moving is necessary to achieve the objective of each hole. To avoid losing trees completely, those that are removed from one hole can be transplanted elsewhere to fill in gaps on other holes or be moved off the golf course completely.
Aesthetic and Visual Appeal
Trees also play a huge role in golf course aesthetics. Wide open courses with nothing for miles can be pretty, but add some trees, and you’ve got a lovely oasis. Aside from providing natural beauty, they also add shade and a sense of natural peace to the surroundings.
Tree removal should be considered carefully if they threatens the look and feel of the space. Golf course designers should do their best to route their designs around the existing trees and natural hazards, with minor changes where necessary to keep the aesthetic.
Improved Turf Conditions
Tree removal can actually improve the health of the turf on golf courses. Too much shade can prevent the turf from drying out properly, leading to conditions that allow mold to grow.
In other cases, trees can compete with the turf for water and nutrients, leaving your turf starved and thirsty. Golf course designers might want to consider this upfront and make location choices with this in mind.
But trees can be removed to allow for less competition for resources, allowing more sunlight in and improving airflow.
Playability and Safety
The safety of golfers and golf course staff is essential. No golf course wants a lawsuit on their hands because a tree fell on someone! Tree removal should prioritize removing potential risks, especially things like dead trees, diseased trees, or overhanging branches.
It’s essential for golf course designers to consider the environmental effect removing trees will have. Trees provide shelter and homes for wildlife and birds and play a huge role in air quality. They also help to reduce erosion as a result of wind or water.
Tree removal for the sake of creating a more beautiful golf course should be discouraged. Rather, trees should be considered as necessary elements that contribute to the health of the turf and the environment and can be used strategically to improve the course aesthetics.
Tree removal should be done thoughtfully and only when the trees present danger or be a threat to the grass or other trees or flora around them.
Replacement and Replanting
When removing a tree is necessary, golf course designers should first consider replanting it elsewhere. Removal might make sense on one hole, but the same tree (if it’s healthy) could be placed on another hole to add a strategic hazard or fill in a gap.
If tree removal is considered because the tree is dominating water or taking over, not for aesthetic purposes, it can be replaced with a more appropriate species. This will keep the look and feel while reducing potential problems.
Preservation should always be the goal, even if tree removal is necessary to design and create the golf course of the designer’s dreams.
An arborist will be able to advise on the best ways to preserve trees so they can remain on the golf course without turning into hazards or competing for resources and starving the turf. Golf course designers shouldn’t go to tree removal as a first resort, and an arborist will be able to give an array of options before simply removing trees.
Golf course design is a meticulous and precise job! While most golf course architects will strive to create a course that flows naturally around the trees, hills, rocks, and other natural elements, it may be necessary to remove or repurpose trees at some point.
Thankfully, modern technology makes it easier to relocate trees or replace them with more appropriate species so the nature of the golf course isn’t compromised. Golf courses can remain eco-friendly, beautiful, and full of foliage without impacting gameplay.
Designers can now create stunning new courses without compromising the land or the enjoyment of golfers who come to swing their clubs on the course.
About the Author
Jordan Fuller is a retired golfer and businessman. When he’s not on the course working on his own game or mentoring young golfers, he writes in-depth articles for his website, Golf Influence.