Instant Gratification

View from the 9th tee following removal of three large cypress trees


Oak tree in its new location helping to frame the teeing area


While the golf course was closed during the afternoon of April 17th due to topdressing, another special project took place.  A large coastal live oak tree that was growing adjacent to the 4th cartpath was transplanted between the 9th tee and 1st green.  Last month, we removed three large cypress trees to increase the amount of sunlight reaching the 1st green.  While the green now has optimal sun and air movement, this created a large gap and the view was dominated by the cartpath.  There was a beautiful oak tree growing on the 4th hole between a group of redwood trees and a massive cypress tree.  This oak would never have the chance to thrive in that area due to the more dominant trees.  Moving the oak to the 9th tee provides the tree will all-day sunlight, helps frame the teeing area, and forces the golfer eye to focus on the fairway ahead.  It was a six-hour project that created a scene of on-lookers and many photographs being taken.  The end result creates an instant impact and the initial indication is that the tree will survive this process and thrive in its new home.

The oak tree in its previous location adjacent to the 4th cartpath


Oak tree being carefully transferred across the 2nd fairway

A Whole New Light

Notice the patches of shade created by the thick overgrowth on the cypress trees.


Extensive pruning this winter has created a dramatic new look to the golf course and ultimately better growing conditions for the grass.


This past winter the maintenance crew has focused on in-house tree pruning projects.  The relatively dry winter allowed the crew to complete a considerable amount of work over the past several months.  The results are visually apparent and have made the golf course aesthetically more appealing.  Removal of three large cypress trees behind the first green was a top priority as the amount of shade it created on the back of the green created undesirable growing conditions during the winter months.  The #1 green has been the weakest green on the course in regards to health and it should perform much better due to having sunlight all day long.  Clicking on the above pictures to “zoom-in” enhances the difference that the pruning has created.  Results will lead to improved growing conditions in the rough along with increased sunlight and better air movement.


View of the first green following removal of three cypress trees on the right side of the green.


View of the 1st green from 2009 and prior to tree work.

Leaning Tree

The Monterey Pine close to the 9th green and adjacent to the cartpath that separates the 1st and 9th holes will be removed on Tuesday morning.  This tree has been leaning more and more each year and threatens to fall.  It is causing damage to the surrounding turf with its roots lifting up the sod.  It poses a danger to golfers and if it were to fall, would cause significant damage to the 9th fairway and surrounding irrigation sprinklers.  The pine tree is nearing its life expectancy and currently offers little protection from errant golf balls.  Once removed, the stump will be ground out and the area will be sodded with grass.  We are being proactive and removing this tree while the tee time schedule is being modified due to aeration.

This monterey pine near the 9th fairway will be removed on March 13, 2012 as it has continued to lean more and more over the years.


Base of the pine is lifting up sod and creating difficult growing conditions in the rough.

Chameleon Grass

While we have been irrigating as needed to certain areas of the golf course, the long periods between significant rain events is creating changing turf conditions particularly under the trees and adjacent to cart paths.  Around the majority of tree skirts the grass is changing from green to brown.  Sure, we could spend labor hours watering these hours by hand, but thin turf under trees during the winter time is not particularly high priority.  Likewise, our water is some of the most expensive in the state of California and we treat it that way.  Spending money to keep turf green under trees during what is supposed to be the rainy season would not be rational.  With rain finally forecast for January 19-20, it will only take a good storm or two and these areas will bounce right back.  We have seen this particular drought stress in three out of the past four January’s and they all recover with one significant rainfall.


Winter Drought Stress-Jan2012

Trees on the golf course significantly impact turfgrass health especially during drought periods

Lighting it Up!

Previous view from the 7th green looking down the tree-lined fairway


Current view from the 7th green looking down toward the 6th fairway


The 6th-7th-8th corridor of Pasatiempo is a stretch of the golf course that is nothing to brag about.  From an architectural standpoint, the trees that line this area of the golf course completely ruin the intended architecture.  The 7th hole is a short par-4 but the tee shot is visually intimidating as a long line of massive cypress trees create a tunnel vision effect in ones mind.  For several years, most tree work in this area has been delayed or pushed back.  However, the aging trees have created a significant shade issue and a potential safety issue with many broken limbs.  From a playability standpoint, the low hanging limbs were impacting golf shots and making the short par-4 play much more difficult.  During the week of November 14th, the golf course was closed due to aeration of greens, tees, and fairways.  It also was an opportune time to complete a massive trimming project in this area without having players to work around.  24-cypress trees were limb up 50-feet and the lateral growth was removed.  This has dramatically changed the view from the tee, the overall playability of the 6th and 7th holes, and has substantially increased the amount of sunlight affecting the 8th green along with the fairways in this area.  No trees were removed during this phase of the project, but there is the possibility of taking some trees out in the future to really improve this area of the golf course.

View from the 7th tee prior to the beginning of the tree work.  Notice the amount of the shade impacting this area along with the “tunnel vision” effect.
The 8th green complex with shade covering the green.  Once the tree work is done, the goal is to dramatically increase the amount of sunlight affecting this green.
Late afternoon view of the tree work that has eliminated a “wall” of green and will allow much needed sunlight to hit the 8th green during the winter months.
Day two of the thinning and trimming process.  Notice the two trees on the right side that were not done.  More sunlight…more air movement…better turfgrass and better playability.

Trees a Crowd

120-year-old Coastal Live Oak tree that split and quietly fell during the March 19th storm
How the wide open, right side approach shot appeared after the oak tree was lost

The first two of three oak trees added to the right side of the 14th fairway

During the March 19th storm, we lost seven trees total when the intense wind and rain storm ripped through the golf course.  Losing the massive 120-year-old coastal live oak along the 14th fairway was a tough.  Not only was that tree there before the golf course was ever built, but it is had impacted shots for many generations.  With that tree gone, the right side of the fairway had no protection.  MacKenzie intended shots to play from the left side and the angled green complex clearly identifies his intention.  Looking over several pictures from the 1930’s, there were (3) trees that stood on the right side of the 14th fairway.  When the final soldier fell, it was time to bring back the design intent.  Three coastal live oak trees were transplanted in the same location as in the 1931 aerial photograph indicated.  

Third tree added to frame the right side and bring back the original design of the 14th hole

Ghost of MacKenzie

A view from the 2nd fairway showing how the 3rd green complex looked in 1929

Photo taken two years ago with the massive Monterey Cypress adjacent to the right side of the 3rd green
Following the March 19th storm the cypress was severely damaged and was completely removed

Turf managers know the problems trees can possess on the ability to grow healthy grass.  Architects know the fine balance between trees and turfgrass.  Dr. MacKenzie never intended a tree to be planted adjacent to the third green and felt that the severe green complex would be a fair enough test for the 235-yard uphill par 3.  The massive monterey cypress tree that grew on the right side of the green complex impacted shots for nearly 50-years and MacKenzie intended the right side to be a bail out area.  If you hit a shot that landed under that tree or had to hit through it, up to the third green, you almost guaranteed bogey.  The ghost of MacKenzie roared through on the night of March 19th when a massive wind storm took out the majority of the tree.  It was so severely damaged that the decision was made to remove the remaining stump and limbs.  Upon driving through the club entrance, one is now made aware of the famous MacKenzie bunkering as it is no longer hidden by the cypress tree.  From an architectural standpoint and a turfgrass manager standpoint, we all agree that this was a good thing.  The third hole is now more reminiscent of how the green complex looked in 1929.