Golf Course Management

OCT 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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Page 68 of 128

62 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 10.14 were not followed. Documents and photos are meth- ods of proving negligence. A stakeholder might try to argue that the business is not responsible for an acci - dent involving a tree because it was "an act of God." Such a notion is not a good defense for negligence because the only real way for this defense to be plau - sible is for the tree to be planted by nature and never have been signifcantly infuenced by humans, which pretty much excludes all trees on a golf course. The trees in the rough might qualify — maybe — but why would you want to take the risk? Thus, "It was an act of God" doesn't really apply here. Two basic questions will be asked after a catastrophic tree fail - ure: Were the managers (superintendents) negligent, and would the hazard have been recognized upon in - spection before the failure? Conducting inspections and stabilization actions and removals proactively adds fexibility to the super - intendents' schedule, rather than Mother Nature's. When this occurs, appropriate staff scheduling is pos - sible, which tends to lower costs. The worst-case sce- nario is when a tree fails just before a tournament or at the peak of seasonal golf play, leading to a shutdown on parts of the course and a loss of revenue overall. Persuasive protocol Once the stakeholders' attention has been at - tracted, a good approach is to switch gears to "Now what?" or a plan of prevention and action. Based on the platform of the three F's — facts, feelings and fnances — a superintendent can develop a responsible and logical protocol. • Identify and locate hazardous trees. • Persuade stakeholders to approve removals and stabilization efforts. • Prioritize and target trees based on the probability of failure with assistance from a certifed arborist. • Develop an action plan based on categorization of high, medium and low hazards/targets with phase 1, 2 and 3 removals and re-plants in low-target/ high-beneft locations. Because it can be diffcult to predict how stake - holders will respond to a discussion and suggested fu- ture protocol on this topic, it may be helpful to role play with another superintendent or property owner. The idea here is to practice the presentation and to bring to light possible objections to tree inspection, risk assessment, stabilization and removal. The goal for such an exercise is to convince the stakeholders that action is necessary. John C. Fech, Ph.D., is a horticulturalist with the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and an ISA-certifed arborist who is a frequent contributor to GCM. Basal decay and other root plate defects are strong indicators that action needs to be taken.

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