Why Is My Golf Club Cutting Down Trees?

Woodland management is being seen more and more at golf clubs around the country, but why?

Trees being cut down at a golf course
(Image credit: John Nicholson Associates)

Woodland management seems to be becoming more and more prominent at golf courses up and down the country.

Many golfers love the look of a treelined hole but understand that the removal of trees allows more sunlight onto putting surfaces and tee boxes to help with the health of the turf. However, one of the main reasons why woodland management is being seen more frequently in the modern day is actually because some of the chemicals greenkeepers formerly used to maintain courses have now been banned.

Greenkeepers and course managers are now tasked with keeping their surfaces healthy via predominantly natural ways, hence why more sunlight and airflow to greens has to be a necessity - which sometimes has to be created via cutting down trees. Turf that holds moisture tends to feature high levels of organic matter, which can lead to disease, and this is why course managers hollow tine and sand greens.

Another reason why some courses may opt for woodland management programmes is to restore their courses to how they formerly looked and played in the early 20th century. This is particularly common at some of the best heathland golf courses where previous open vast heathland holes became more treelined over time.

"There's a lot more pressure on greenkeepers with disease pressure because of moisture management and so if the greens are damp for longer they’ve got more chance of being susceptible to disease," Wallasey Golf Club's Course Manager John Mcloughlin tells Golf Monthly on woodland management. "What we find is a lot of golf greens and tees are heavily surrounded by trees, which prevents light and prevents air movements, which is critical.

"The disease pressure is so high that the greens end up being diseased, scarred and not running truly so it is really important that the green surfaces are free from shades of trees and air movement because of the high disease pressure.

"In the past there were chemicals and fungicides that allowed greenkeepers to spray the greens with chemicals on a weekly or monthly basis to keep the disease at bay. A lot of the fungicides and chemicals have now been banned, so in the past where we could maybe get away with it a little bit more because we had different chemicals we could spray, they're no longer available.

"So being able to culturally manage the playing surfaces by removing trees and creating air flow and sunlight is vital now. So there has been a big drive on taking trees out."

Elliott Heath
Elliott Heath

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Honma TR20

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max

Irons: Honma TR20B

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x