Courses & TravelMay 9, 2008

T.L.C. for the Chambers Bay Tree

The only tree at Chambers Bay is in the news. We care about Chambers Bay because it's the new municipal course in University Place, Wash., 15 miles from Tacoma, that will host the 2010 U.S. Amateur and the 2015 U.S. Open.

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We care about the tree because it's a landmark at Chambers Bay. When Robert Trent Jones Jr. and his team built Chambers Bay they moved a lot of sand and knocked down an old rock quarry, but they kept certain things that they felt added to the character and charm of the property. They kept the Douglas fir on the 15th hole. As you look out across the property the tree is the only thing on the landscape between the course and the Puget Sound. Bald eagles broke off the top of the tree and use it as a perch overlooking their fruitful hunting grounds. Much like the 67-foot cypress tree right of the 18th green of Pebble Beach, if it were no longer there, it would be a significant loss.

I was at Chambers Bay few weeks ago doing research for my Away Game in the July issue of Golf Digest. Last week a senseless vandal took an ax to the Douglas fir. I contacted a public-relations rep for Chambers Bay to find out the status of the tree. As this country wrestles with the subject of health care, Chambers Bay is taking tree care to the next level.

Kristin Schaner, of KemperSports, provided this* update on the Chambers Bay fir tree (based on a conversation that Pierce County's Tony Tipton had with KemperSports superintendent David Wienecke this afternoon):*

Over the weekend, metal bracing was added to the tree to structurally stabilize the wound area. In addition, excess soil was removed from around the tree to help uncover the tree roots in preparation for a 2- to 3-inch application of compost around the base of the tree. The compost will help ensure the tree receives a consistent amount of moisture and nutrients while it is recovering from the damage. Supplemental watering will also commence with the existing irrigation system until a specific water system can be set up for the tree.

The wound itself is being allowed to go through its self-healing process, which entails letting the tree sap naturally cover the wound to prevent moisture and disease from entering the wound. After a period of 2 to 3 weeks, a high-strength epoxy resin will be placed in the wound between the tree braces and the tree itself to fill the void.

Additional discussions on the care of the tree, after the immediate repairs are finished, will focus on the appropriate amount of water and nutrients that should be provided to the tree. We are also examining how much specific tree testing will be necessary to monitor the health of the tree during recovery.

--Matty G

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