The astute member will have noted some changes to the course in the past several weeks as work has been carried out on the removal of several trees and shrubs.

To date, we have facilitated the removal of a large cedar that was to the left of the forward tee block on the 2nd, a large fir tree behind the 17th green and several olive trees were removed from beside the 18th tee. Other work has been carried out by removing a number of shrubs behind the 14th tee and to the right of the 6th fairway.


This is always the first question and understandably so. The answer?

It depends!

There are a number of criteria that a trees impact can be assessed upon. Each is considered on not only its own merits but also the part it plays in the overall picture.

Interference with  play (as was the case with the cedar on the 2nd hole) is a fairly easy concept for players to appreciate. Golf holes often have preferred lines that are best taken if one wishes to gain full advantage and maximise success on the hole. When trees start to inhibit the ability to play a hole as intended, remediation such as pruning or removal are required.

Slicers rejoice! Plenty of room to the left to start your tee shot now on the 2nd

Trees are naturally very competitive and have the ability to remove large quantities of moisture and nutrients from soil. These same nutrients are required by the grass and the winner of the battle will invariably be the tree. This can be evidenced in the area to the front left of the 4th green where grass struggles to grow.

Disease and old age are a big factor as consideration must be given to the potential danger posed by failing limbs/debris. What needs to be appreciated is that a tree in its natural environment wont receive regular supplemental water and nutrition. Put them on a golf course with irrigation and fertiliser being used and the tree reaches its life expectancy at an accelerated rate. The fir tree behind the 17th green was identified as being in decline and the proximity to a high traffic area was a strong factor leading to its removal.

As well as overcoming a safety concern, a new broader vista is now on offer from the clubhouse

Evergreen trees in particular and others with dense foliage can shade key areas of turf. As the grass requires sunlight to grow and the soil requires sun and wind to dry, long periods of shade are undesirable. This problem is amplified in winter when grass growth is naturally slower and lower sun angles generate longer shadows. Take note of the 8th fairway next time you play and see how long it takes for the sun to actually rise above the trees!

Overcrowding is a sight common on New Zealand golf courses. A desire to fill every perceivable gap with a tree has given us the situation where, as trees have aged and gotten bigger, solid walls of foliage now exist. They have grown into others and negatively impacted the growth habit and shape of their neighbours. Desirable species that enhance the playing environment are being choked by other exotic and fast growing types. Take a look between the 10th and 11th fairways at the way the trees have jostled for space and had to adapt into different shapes.

Identifying which species to encourage is a key aspect to enhancing the overall landscape. Preference should be given to trees that are indigenous to the country or region as they reflect both the surrounding environment and also they are well adapted to the climatic conditions. Trees which are favoured by the native birds and wildlife are important to show our acknowledgement ecologically and see us as good stewards of the land. Exotic species that offer no connection to their surroundings are best avoided and with this in mind, the decision was made to remove the olives on the 18th and in future the phoenix palms beside the chipping green.

Note how the view and sense of space has opened up on the 18th

As you can see, there is a lot to take into consideration and decisions are made thoroughly with much deliberation and thought. Weight is being given to current needs but also future requirements.

Trees have the potential to offer an array of positive benefits to a golf course. The key to harnessing this potential is to give strong thought to the type and placement with a view to limiting/avoiding problems in the future. It is important to examine the current status and assess with mind and not just the heart.

Good Golfing

The Maintenance Team
Hamilton Golf Club


Popular Posts