Golf course architect Chris Wilczynski is overseeing an extensive tree-management project at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club in Grand Blanc, Michigan.
The work will remedy turf issues on a number of over-shaded greens across the course, helping to improve playability and aesthetics.
Work will also be done to help reopen the fairway corridors that have been obstructed by the growth of trees around the course.
The course was originally designed by James Gilmore Harrison and opened in 1957. Joe Lee redesigned the course in 1968.
Warwick Hills was the host course for the PGA Tour’s Buick Open from 1958-69 and again from 1978-2009.
Wilczynski will work alongside arborist and agronomist Julie Stachecki on the project.
“We complement each other really well,” said Wilczynski. “Julie contributes to the project analysis from the viewpoint of tree and turfgrass science. I contribute from the golf course architect’s perspective of playability and aesthetics.”
Stachecki is the owner of consultancy company Site Specific and has worked independently with golf courses, but the Warwick Hills project is her first collaboration with a golf course architect.
“I would love to see this kind of relationship grow and develop throughout the golf industry,” said Stachecki. “Chris and I both have the same goal – to make the property more functional and improve the quality of the golf experience with less future maintenance. He shares his vision of how the course can be altered for improvement, and I share with him my expertise on which trees should stay or go, taking into account the tree species, structure and health.”
An inventory of the course was carried out by Wilczynski and Stachecki found that Warwick Hills contained more than 1,600 trees, and recommended 400 be removed or pruned.
The first phase of the work will take place this spring and will see the removal of 124 trees and the pruning of 29 trees. Around 45 trees will be planted in strategic locations going forward.
Shade issues have seriously affected eight different greens over the years, but Stachecki says strategically removing or pruning trees will result in more southern and eastern sun exposure for Warwick Hills’ greens. This will lessen the effects of harsh winter weather.
The club wants to introduce strategic changes to the course over the next 3-7 years, and John DeMarco, chairman of Warwick Hills’ Greens Committee, said: “The tree evaluation prompted us to take a further look at updating the golf course. It won’t be a redesign, but an update that will enhance the original Joe Lee design.”