Journey Along the Shores – Part 5 (Tree Management)

CanalShores3-ReclaimedRidgelineOur tree management program has begun in earnest at Canal Shores.  Our strategy, which is built up on the Wide Open Spaces principle, is two-phased:

1.  Remove overgrowth and invasive species.

2.  Highlight remaining specimen trees while supplementing them modestly with conifer and deciduous species that we have selected for their beauty and native restoration qualities.

The list of selected tree species will be covered in detail in upcoming posts.  For now, focus is on phase 1.  Before sharing about our progress and findings thus far, let’s ask and answer a legitimate question:

Why go to all this trouble?  Why not just leave tree management to Mother Nature?

The members of the Board and Grounds Committee are inherently proactive and not keen on passively letting opportunities to improve Canal Shores slip by.  Beyond that quality of the people, there are several reasons why we have implemented a tree management program.

1.  Turf Health – Our Superintendent Tom Tully’s primary job is to grow and maintain turf on which it is enjoyable to play golf.  An overabundance of trees growing in the wrong places make that job more difficult and expensive.  Trees compete with turf for water and sunlight, and they usually win.  We do not have the funds to water more than the minimum, nor to continuously replace struggling turf areas.  Further, every golf course must be looking for ways to cut water usage in today’s culture of sensitivity to sustainability issues.  Simply put, we are tipping the scales in favor of our turf.

2.  Maintenance Costs – It might seem that doing nothing until one absolutely has to is the cheapest route to take.  In addition to the increased costs of maintaining healthy turf, improperly managed trees can cause costly course damage, property damage, and injury.  Any competent manager knows that proactive management of an asset is always cheaper in the long run than an approach of neglect that leads to the need for periodic crisis management.

3.  Maximizing Pleasure – There is an overwhelming consensus among Canal Shore’s stakeholders that the overgrown state of the property is much less beautiful than it could be.  Unique features are obscured and vistas are limited.  Tree management is a key factor in increasing beauty, which in turn increases pleasure.  For Canal Shores’s golfers, excessive and misplaced trees reduce the playability of the course.  While successfully navigating a strategically placed tree can be very pleasurable, constantly threading the needles of playing corridors choked by trees…not so much.  Enhancing the beauty, interest and playability of Canal Shores through tree management maximizes pleasure.

The case for tree removal and management from a golf perspective are covered further in my previous post The Sweet Sounds of Chainsaws.

The bottom line is this:  There are important reasons to take affirmative action with regard to tree management.  As stewards of this special place, it is our responsibility to actively manage the land that has been entrusted to us.

The slide show below shares our initial efforts on the Jans Holes (#3).  We have already created more width for golfers, as well as discovered specimen trees, and gorgeous curves and contours along the ridge line.

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More updates on our progress to come…

More Journey Along the Shores posts:



Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf

21 thoughts on “Journey Along the Shores – Part 5 (Tree Management)

  1. “Native conifers”? The Morton Arboretum site suggests there were 4 in the ‘region’ but only two of them grew in Illinois – both cedar trees. Even the cedars were never a common part of the landscape. Aside from buckthorn, the trees you’d be cutting down are almost all much more native than anything evergreen. Hopefully that part of the plan will get dropped.

    1. Thanks for your feedback “wilson”. What is your name? Are you in the business? Always happy to have expert input into our plan.

      With regard to conifers, there are some older existing trees in out-of-play areas on the property that will likely remain. Not likely that we will be adding many, if any, new conifers. Our focus in adding trees will be on recreating hardwood savannah.

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