I know Highland Links is a course very dear to many people on this web site and I thought I would update everyone on the recent progress at Highland Links. The course has had a really tough fall brought on by continuous rain and it has left the course in pretty tough shape.
The problem that has been brought upon by over a month of continuous lousy weather, poor drainage on many holes and is only made worse by the dense tree cover around the course (particularly the greens). There has been almost no tree removal since the course opened due mainly to restrictions for tree removal in the National Park. Iím happy to say that era has come to an end. The Park has recognized the problem and has given us permission to take out what is necessary for up to 50 feet from the current tree line. They are also willing to allow more but we will need to sit down with them.
In the four days that I spent at Highlands this fall I got a chance to talk one on one with all the key players at the National Park and I can honestly say they recognize what needs to be done to get better playing conditions and also restore the course. They are on board. So rather than wait for a Master Plan to get done and then start, I got everyone involved to agree to immediate tree removal this fall. We staked out areas to be removed and I gave them a written report that described all tree removal throughout the course Ė so they could get as far as they could this fall.
They need this tree removal now to deal with turf recovery. They also needed to recognize the glaring sunlight issues that plague the greens almost all year. We are three weeks in right now and Iíve provided photos to show where we are taking trees down for sunlight or airflow. The great news is the National Park has come through with another three to four weeks of manpower from their own budget to take more trees down now after I sent a note requesting that they keep going.
The initial goal is better growing environments. Each removal also happens to take us back to the original corridor and opens up the views to the mountains or terrain around the holes. Once all green and tee sites are done, the future removal program will be to restore the original views of the course. This work almost completely fits within our working corridor.
Once we have established healthy green sites, we can begin programs like green recapturing and then slowly work our way towards a restoration. Iíll update you later on this winter with all the surprises that I had through research and the time spent on site. As a teaser - two greens are off by 30 feet Ė the great part is I know when and why it happened.
Here is a pictorial summary of most of the work:The 7th
There is tree removal on the left and back of the green and that is the 8th tee that is starting to show up through the gap. The right side will also be cleared the same way too.The 9th
There are no trees left behind the green anymore and you can see the mountain from the landing - like before. The trees on the left side had to come out and the right hillside is still to be cleared.
The left side of the green.The 11th
There tree removal up the right is all done, and will help with future recapturing of the original green. The waterfall is much easier to see now too.The 13th
The removal is all on the right side was done to help with sunlight issues, but needs to go further up at the green.The 14th
The removals up the left were for sunlight. You barely see that gap from the landing area.The 17th
This is the biggest problem green on the course. The Spruce back left are original whereas all the deciduous all the way around are not. There needs to be a major removal on the right to open up this area since the air is always dead and the green has almost no light beyond mid-day. This is where I recommended they concentrate their efforts. The spectacular back right pin has been lost until this green can be recovered.
So thatís the short tour of the work and there still remains three to four more weeks of progress till they shut down. The goal for this year is good turf.