The dilemma dividing clubs around the world

The dilemma dividing clubs around the world

We get a little emotional when it comes to the wood flanking our fairways. Steve Carroll and Tom Irwin tackle this divisive topic

If you want to easily upset some of the members, take a chainsaw to a few groves of trees and watch the disgruntled emails roll in.

We have a strong emotional attachment to these inanimate objects – the cause of so much pain for many of us during our rounds – and there are few club issues that can divide the clubhouse more significantly.

And yet, across the country, clubs have risked the wrath of their members by slaughtering thousands of them or bringing in experts to carry out forest management programs.

Some courses, Woodhall Spa and Moortown being notable top examples, have been transformed by selective deletion, but clubs taking this route do so with a hint of trepidation.

In an episode of the From the Clubhouse podcast, Tom Irwin and Steve Carroll got caught up in the controversial topic of tree removal on a golf course…

“Once you got past the initial shock, the course got better”

It’s a sensitive subject, said Tom Irwin. At my club, Alwoodley, we have removed trees but we have done so with permission and very gently.

The areas where they did this improved the condition of the course and the playability of the holes immeasurably and also restored certain angles.

There are countless examples of places that have done it in a pretty extreme way – at Woodhall Spa they went through this amazing Tom Doak renovation where they discovered bunkers they thought they had lost and found gigantic portions of fairway which had been engulfed by very.

Once you get past that initial scarring and shock where the tree left, those places – and I’m talking about the moors – got better.

We try to get heather, we try to get finer herbs. We know the agronomic reasons.

The tenet of many of these golden age architects, and certainly many modern companies attempting to restore golf courses, is the idea that the course is playable for the weak player and remains a challenge for the best. player.

This often means firm, fast courses, and it means the best players lose control of their ball or their time.

Trees don’t help that because they create mulch, they create meadow grass, they create softer areas. If you lose the angles that the width of these fairways gives you, in terms of large variable pin positions on massive greens, then the hole principles are lost.

Cutting down trees on a golf course is a shame because they are part of a good environment, the animals love them and they are fun to watch. But they are not always useful.

“They can ruin the design of the golf course”

I understand why people get emotional about trees, said Steve Carroll. They are pretty to look at. There is a feeling of being in tune with nature and if in the past they had been planted with some sort of idea or strategy, I would be less inclined to weed some of them out.

But it was just random committee members from the old days saying, “We’re going to put trees in there.” They didn’t take care of it and some trees became too many trees.

My biggest issue is that the architect who designed the course didn’t think about those trees. So if they are not planted wisely and with sensitivity, they ruin the design of the golf course. They rarely do better. They make the situation worse.

Anyone who’s been to Moortown, who’s been to Woodhall Spa or Ganton where they do a lot of work to get the gorse out properly, I’ll challenge them to say they’re no better for those trees that are being removed.

I understand the environmental argument – trees are the lungs of the world – but we could replant them elsewhere and in better places.”

You can hear more thoughts from Tom and Steve on the From the Clubhouse podcast. But what do you think of the debate? Are trees suitable for golf courses? How would you manage them? Let us know with a Tweeter.


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