Trees and turf are often viewed as mixing about as well as oil and water. But with careful planning and a proper tree-risk assessment program, it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation on your golf course.

This is exactly what Lindsey Purcell, an urban forestry specialist at Purdue University, spoke about recently. “Trees provide significant benefits, but when they fail, they become a liability issue,” Purcell said.

Purcell cautioned that failing trees exhibiting problems are a significant safety hazard to not only the people on your course, but also to the course itself. “Tree risk assessment and management is fairly new and it’s also fairly new as being a part of an overall risk management plan for your course. The whole idea of assessing risks is to try and prevent issues before they actually occur,” Purcell said.

Purcell recommended that superintendents start a basic tree risk assessment for their course by completing the following tasks:

  • develop and implement an inspection program;
  • create and enforce a policy for risk trees;
  • develop a standard of care suitable for your situation; and
  • develop and maintain records or case history

Superintendents are also advised that when an arborist is needed to inspect or take action with a high-risk tree, make sure the arborist has the proper credentials and is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture.