Forest management seems to be becoming increasingly important on golf courses across the country.
Many golfers like the look of a tree-lined hole, but understand that tree removal allows more sunlight onto putting surfaces and tee boxes to aid in turf health. However, one of the main reasons why forest management is more common these days is actually because some of the chemicals that greenkeepers once used to maintain the courses have now been banned.
Greenkeepers and course managers are now tasked with keeping their surfaces healthy by primarily natural means, hence why more sunlight and airflow to the greens must be a necessity – which must sometimes be created by cutting down trees. Turf that retains moisture tends to contain high levels of organic matter, which can lead to disease, and is why course managers dig teeth and sand greens.
Another reason some courses may opt for forest management programs is to restore their courses to how they looked and played before the turn of the 20th century. This is particularly common on some of the best heathland golf courses where the previous vast open heathland holes have become more treed over time.
“There is a lot more pressure on greenkeepers with disease pressure due to moisture management and so if the greens are wet longer they are more likely to be susceptible to disease,” said John Mcloughlin, course manager of the Wallasey Golf Club, to Golf Monthly on wood management. . “What we’re seeing is that a lot of golf greens and tees are heavily treed, which blocks light and air movement, which is essential.
“Disease pressure is so high that greens end up being sick, scarred and not really working, so it’s very important that green surfaces are free of tree shadows and air movement due to high disease pressure.
“In the past, there were chemicals and fungicides that allowed gardeners to spray greens with chemicals on a weekly or monthly basis to ward off disease. Many fungicides and chemicals have now been banned, so in the past we could maybe get away with it a bit more because we had different chemicals that we could spray, they are no longer available.
“So it’s vital to be able to culturally manage playing surfaces by removing trees and creating airflow and sunlight. So there’s been a big effort to remove the trees.”