Golf Course Architecture - Issue 66, October 2021

13 MA I L BOX Dear Editor Is the tree removal trend in golf going too far? I understand the arguments in favour of wholesale tree surgery, and support many of them. I do not believe that courses with trees near the line of play are a good idea, and I do not support having trees on courses that, ecologically, should be bereft of them. But, at the same time, I do wonder whether we are getting to a point where tree surgery is becoming a fetish, or a contest between clubs – ‘we have taken out more trees than you’. It is well known that trees outcompete other, in some cases more desirable, plants; heather being the most obvious example. If a course is located on land where heather is native, then cut away say I: trees and heath are not compatible with each other, and heath is a much scarcer ecosystem than woodland (and better for golf). But on other sites, what is the alternative to trees? In many cases, it is tall, dense broadleaved, ball-eating rough grass. In such circumstances, I personally would generally rather have woodland: it looks better and frankly searching for balls in thick, waist-high grass is significantly more annoying than doing so among trees. Where courses have been narrowed over time and now have golfing features that are choked out by trees, obviously this needs fixing; but then the same is true of courses that have grown rough grass around bunkers that were originally supposed to mark the edges of fairways. This is not fundamentally a tree issue; it is an issue about the width of playing areas. Tree-haters often point out that some courses, when created, were not treed, but that the timber has grown over time or was planted by the club: clearly this is often true, but frankly sometimes I believe it is the best option available. Even aside from their obvious ecological value, trees are not the total scourge their golfing opponents would have us believe. Where courses were created on former agricultural land, trees can help break up the landscape. Where I do agree with the tree- haters is that the wholesale, virtually unplanned planting of trees by clubs is a disaster and should be discouraged. Just as club members, and the committees on which they sit are not qualified to judge where bunkers should be placed, nor are they the right people to judge where trees do or do not belong. Tree removal (or planting) should be taken after receiving advice from a competent golf course architect. James Stirling Northampton, England We are delighted to receive letters from readers, and the best in each issue will be rewarded with a golf shirt. Send to 6 Friar Lane, Leicester, LE1 5RA, UK, or email us at Sandy’s travels took him to Gloucestershire in England’s south-west in the last issue, to the Old Tom Morris-designed Cleeve Hill course, which was recently saved from closure, thanks to a campaign led by local golfers. Legendary Getty Images golf photographer David Cannon recognised the shot and was first out of the hat. Congratulations David, perhaps a Cannon shoot of Cleeve is in order? This month, Sandy has taken advantage of the relaxing of Covid travel restrictions and gone for a summer break in Europe. The course he is visiting is among the top- ranked in its country, and observant readers will note the remains of a centuries- old aqueduct in the background of the photo. Where is he? Answers, as usual, to . GOPHER WATCH