The USGA quips on how to ruin a golf course


Trees are an integral part of the greatest golf courses on the planet and some have even become icons (Fire Eisenhower’s tree at Augusta National’s 17). They have a strategic interest, shelter rare species, contribute to the very special identity of certain routes. But they need to be planted and managed intelligently, thoughtfully, to avoid big problems. Because the best way to ruin a golf course is to plant trees there in numbers and anyhow.

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In a humorous and educational post, the USGA listed the mistakes not to make when a course manager imagines improving his course by planting trees.

The right trees in the right places are often an asset for a course, but when the trees start to seriously disturb the quality of the grass, or to permanently affect the way of play, it is more annoying. So here are the best ways to ruin a golf course with trees according to the USGA:

Be sure to choose the least expensive trees. A tree is a tree, isn’t it? What the hell does it do if its roots stay on the surface and it’s constantly losing branches? As long as it grows fast and doesn’t destroy the embankment where it is planted, we don’t really care, right?
When you plant trees, don’t worry about how big they will get in the future. It will be someone else’s problem…
Plant trees as close to the greens as possible, to serve as a backdrop like on most great courses where pine hedges have been installed.
Don’t limit yourself to trees from your region or continent. Adding trees from all over the world will be a guarantee of success.
Don’t worry about nuts, fruit, bark, branches and any debris that may fall on the course. The gardening team will be happy to take care of it if there are too many.
If you think a hole is too easy, the ideal solution is to plant trees. No need to consult a golf architect, just look where most players’ balls land and plant a bunch of trees there as soon as possible.
Plant as many trees as possible near tees and fairways. Because who really needs grass on the starting areas? If the ball is on a tee, there must be a reason.
Don’t even think about chopping down trees unless you want your course to get too easy.

You may find this list amusing, but the sad reality is that these types of errors often occur on golf courses around the world. Courses where it is not uncommon for fortunes to be spent creating problems with trees, and spending even more money is needed to fix them.

Rangelands should invest in a carefully prepared, professionally prepared “tree plan” to guide planting and management decision makers to achieve the best results without suffering headaches. Golf architects and agronomists can contribute specific plans.

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