Golf Course Management

JAN 2014

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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Although they are assets to the golf course, trees perform best when they're not competing with turf roots. Photos by John Fech In encounters with various mishaps, you may have heard the phrase, "Oh, don't worry about that; we can fx it later." Unfortunately, trees are not in the same category as minor damage to cars, kitchen foors and baseball uniforms. Unlike fenders or a wall, trees are living organisms, and, as such, are very diffcult to "fx." With that in mind, tree injuries are to be prevented, not repaired. Oh, sure, some corrections can be made in the early stages of a tree's life but, overall, the old adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" defnitely applies to trees. Benefits vs. costs of trees on the golf course Trees provide a great many benefts for the golf course, both aesthetic and functional. They provide opportunities to introduce color, aroma and texture into a golfscape, usually dominated by various hues of green. Crapemyrtles, golden raintree and crabapples are good examples of color enhancers while baldcypress and pine bring welcome features and scents. The screening of undesirable views and the softening of unwanted sound are functional benefts, along with the provision of shade for golfers waiting to tee off. Signifcant costs come along with the benefts. These start with the tree itself and continue with the investment of time and effort for 58 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 01.14 wood and heartwood. As long as the bark is intact and functioning, the likelihood of degradation of the inner wood is minimal. Because decay fungi are ubiquitous, once the bark is injured (by man through negligence or by nature through storms) decay fungi will invade the wood and begin the decomposition process. Therefore, any steps that can be taken to prevent damage to the bark are very helpful for the longevity of the trees on the golf course. Protecting the bark means protecting the rest of the tree. planting, the foregone alternative investment, the steps necessary to maintain them and, fnally, the removal. In most cases, the benefts strongly outweigh the costs. Importance of bark and other tissues Perhaps more so than for any other tree tissue, the mantra of "prevent rather than repair" applies to bark. Bark is a frst line of defense against any intruder, including boring insects, canker diseases, frustrated golfers and inexperienced mower operators. Each of these can cause damage to the conductive vessels of the tree, reducing its capacity to move water and nutrients throughout. One of the most important functions of the bark is to keep decay fungi away from the sap- Compartmentalization Unlike humans, trees don't have the capacity to produce new cells to replace old ones damaged by cuts and scrapes in skin. Once the bark and inner tissues are damaged, they will always be damaged. Instead, trees compartmentalize injuries, separating injured tissues from healthy ones. The process is complicated and occurs over several years, but the main purpose is to create boundaries that resist the spread of pathogens. Each tree species varies with regard to its capacity to produce walls of separation to compartmentalize injuries. When injuries to poor compartmentalizers such as poplar and silver maple occur, the common result is an incomplete separation, which results in deterioration of the heartwood, and structural weakness.

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