It seems like a lot more often I am put in charge of removing some of our majestic Water Oaks for one reason or another. This week we are having to take out two that have been showing signs of severe decay with complete death just around the corner. In past years I have be heart sickened by the clubs insistence on leaving these trees up until their is no life left in them at all. For years I have explained as well as had the state forestry advisor, advise the immediate removal of these trees. The reason for this is simple, once the tree has started its severe decline, insects move in and make their homes. Most notably the Wood Boring beetle. Once these beetles set up house, they quickly tend to move to the next weakest tree in the area generally causing early an death in all trees around the original diseased tree. I have watched us lose all of the Water Oaks around #5 & #8 greens due to these practices of keeping these trees way too long. Now with so many of these large Oaks gone the club is seeing the reasoning behind the timely removal of diseased trees. While this will not keep other close trees from dying it will help prolong their life span. This is the only reason we are removing these two trees.
FYI - the Water Oak has a Peak life expectancy of 40 years. This is where the tree finally starts a downward decline. While some may live twice that long and others half that many years, this has become the general peaking age of the Water Oaks for our area. Different conditions determine how long a tree will live. What is odd is that while the Water Oak has a name that would lead you to believe it loves water, it is actually the opposite that holds true with water being the downfall of the tree. It is more prone to root crown rot when planted in areas that tend to stay wet too often. As most of you know, our course is prone to flooding often. If you have been keeping track of past removals of these trees, most had been planted in some of the lowest areas on the course.
When choosing trees for a course, many factors need to be considered. One is location for play as well as the health of the tree you have planted. In most cases simply planting a Live Oak would of been the better choice. Another factor and maybe the most important is what the tree will look like in 20-50 years down the road. This morning while waiting for the frost to thaw out on # 1 green I was talking to the first group and showing them the Live Oak to the right of the cart path. This Oak is still not fully grown but it already is tall enough to block the sunlight from the green until past 9:00am which in turn holds back play until all frost is thawed out. By not thinking back then when they planted that tree (which looks great) they have caused the #1 delay to getting started earlier from a frost delay. If this would have been hole #3-#18 it would not have been an issue since it would normally take 20 minutes to get to those holes and would not of held us back quite as long. What is to happen in another 10 years or so when the tree is even taller? Longer frost delays?