Golf Course Management

MAY 2018

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

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44 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 05.18 inches, decay is inevitable, especially on tree species that don't close wounds readily, such as silver maple. Black locust and Osage or - ange (hedge apple) are quite decay-resistant, allowing for greater pruning options. Many other negative consequences can result from pruning mature trees. Pruning removes photosynthetic surfaces from the tree, causing it to go into a mode where it uses reserves that are intended for defense against insects and for survival during drought. After limbs have been removed, the canopy is exposed to greater sunlight penetration on bark that was previously shaded, increasing the potential for sunscald and other bark injury. Another unwanted result is that prun - ing removes the branch terminals and apical meristems, eliminating the growth regulators that have had dominance over the embedded buds in the trunk and branches that remain in the tree after limb removal. Once these are gone, the otherwise suppressed buds are free to grow and start producing suckers that are weakly attached to the limbs. In fact, they are only attached in the outer ring of the scaffold branches, in the newest sapwood — not deep into the heartwood like the re - moved portions of the tree. As the suckers grow, they will produce their own shade until they break off during storms, creating more debris on the turf below. e list of negatives continues, as a large number of limbs need to be removed to cre - ate enough sunlight for the turf to be sig- nificantly improved — usually 40 percent to 50 percent of the canopy. Because of the regrowth potential of deciduous trees, limb removal must be repeated every few years or so. is creates the need to remove and process all the wood waste, disrupts golf play while it is being done, brings the cost of hiring an arborist to do the pruning, and causes additional injury to the tree. If the pruning is not done correctly, such as when only the lower limbs are removed, the tree becomes more susceptible to wind throw and catastrophic failure. e greater the number of limbs that are removed from the center of the canopy, the more likely the tree is to fail, as the potential for the canopy to diffuse the force is reduced. Instead of its energy decreasing, the wind has a greater capacity to penetrate and exert force on the tree as it moves through it. If, however, there are several trees, the best way to improve conditions sufficiently is to remove at least some of them. Which ones? In the short run Tree removal is a politically charged issue on a golf course, requiring expert as - sistance both on an informational and li- ability basis. It's best to begin by enlisting a registered consulting arborist or an arbor - ist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture, preferably with TRAQ (Tree Risk Assessment Qualification) credentials, to evaluate the status of each tree using a systematic method. Such a process involves five steps. 1. Start with historically problematic trees or trees that stakeholders routinely com - plain about, then document and com- municate with stakeholders about the proposed actions. e idea is to get them on the same page and obtain buy-in. 2. Prioritize by use area (that is, greens and tees), and make a second pass through the course, focusing on purpose, condi - tion and placement. Again, communi- cate/document. 3. Make a third pass through the rest of the course. Again, communicate/document. 4. Make a plan to revisit steps one, two and three to identify subsequent changes, which are likely to have occurred in the time it took to implement steps one, two and three. is is a key evaluation of im - plemented actions steps, which is unfor- tunately often omitted. 5. Replace some of the trees that have been removed, with purpose, pest resistance, desirable attributes, placement, golf play and other benefits in mind. Insist these new trees be inspected, trained and maintained according to best manage - ment practices in order to keep them as an asset rather than a detriment. Decisions about tree removal, prun - ing and replacement are important in the overall maintenance of the golfscape. For - tunately, golf course superintendents don't have to go it alone, as assistance is available from certified arborists and university ex - tension professionals. John C. Fech is a horticulturist and Extension educator with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a frequent and award-winning contributor to GCM. Regular inspection is required to lessen a golf facility's potential liability from injuries associated with structurally weak trees, especially those near greens, tees, refreshment stands and other areas of frequent occupancy.

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