The Case for a Comprehensive Tree Removal Program atthe Philadelphia Cricket Club
Flourtown Course, PA, USA

The eleventh representsanother case of too many trees too close to the fairway and too close together whereas the twelfth features adouble hazard created by the mass of trees planted between twelfth and thirteenth fairways from the fairway bunker left of the landing area on the par five twelfth hole.

Another double hazard situation - left fairway bunker at 115 yards.

More “Christmas trees” planted long ago next to bunkers and/or greens. These towering specimens can be found at right greenside on the twelfth hole. Incredibly, up until about five years ago, another of equal size stood between the trees shown above and the greenside bunkers and was only removed after years of discussion at the committee level, ironic when one considers the amount of forethought and discussion which presumably went into the planting of small pines throughout the course fifty or more years ago (I’m guessing “zero”).

The USGA recommendation for the setback of the edge of the canopy for trees is ten yards from tees, fairways, bunkers and greens. At the thirteenth hole the entire left side of the fairway is lined with mature trees (such as the above sycamore at 100 yards) the base of which are just steps from the fairway’s edge.

Note ahead the small tree planted just in the past few years at the corner of the right greenside bunker. We can imagine the effect it will have on sunlight, turf and playing conditions when it reaches the height of the towering elm and sycamore visible just a few steps off of the back of the green at right. When combined with the huge specimens visible beside and behind the left greenside bunker we will finally have this green surrounded.

The fourteenth hole as seen in 1938

Tillinghast executed a dramatic series of bunkers short of the green at the par four fourteenth hole. Sadly, all have been lost.

Current view of the fourteenth green.

The extravagant bunkering short of the green has been replaced with a single long bunker. Meanwhile a motley collection of pines, maples and other nondescript trees has grown in and formed a wall back and around the green.

View from right greenside of the fourteenth.

“we must not have them directly by our putting greens (and) not too close to the line of play’

Guilty on both counts, in my opinion.

View of the fifteenth from the tee

The fifteenth is a par threemeasuring over 200 yards with out-of-bounds the entire length of the right side. As designed, the hole was originally a Redan (aerials one and eight). However, as the trees planted behind the fourteenth green (visible at left) have matured (thus creating the desired tree-lined “bowling alley” effect), the original tee has been replaced with two sets of tees further right and along the boundary while the short cross bunker was removed, thus fundamentally altering the intended playing characteristics of what must have been a truly magnificent hole.

Sadly, the original tee is gone and the intended line of play is now choked with trees.

The sixteenth as seen today. As trees have grown in along the left side, the first fairway bunker on the left has been removed and replaced by a mound. Two other fairway bunkers have also been removed. (Aerial 1).

The remaining fairway bunker left is a clear double hazard.

“we may play around trees but certainly the only route to a hole must never be over or through them…”

Overgrown trees overhang the right fairway bunker.

The seventeenth is a dogleg left par four with fairway bunkering protecting the corner of the doglegand providing a risk/reward tee shot. A shorter fairway bunker (Aerial 1) has been lost and an enormous elm tree overhangs the remaining bunker and fairway beyond.

A stand of mature sycamores which line the left side of the seventeenth fairway have grown to the point that, having successfully challenged the fairway bunker, the player is “rewarded” with this direct line to the green from the left side of the fairway at 160 yards.

At greenside right, the previously discussed towering hemlocks between the seventeenth and first greens await the pushed approach.

More than a year ago, the Club constructed a practice putting green between the eighteenth and first tee the under the shade of a row of mature trees...

...unfortunately, the results have been predictable.

Conclusion

A stated previously, I believe very strongly that the Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Tillingahst course at Flourtown is in desperate need of a comprehensive tree removal program.

Virtually every club privileged enough to be caretakers of a great course from the “Golden Age”, both nationally and in the Philadelphia area, has had to come to grips with dealing with the “tree issue”. While (just as at other clubs) the issue is sure to be an emotional one, I believe the Cricket Club can no longer and should no longer avoid taking the proactive steps necessary to allow this historic and once-great golf course to be great again.

Thanks for taking the time to read this essay. I welcome all comments, support, criticism or suggestions.

Gib Carpenter
e_g_c_2@yahoo.com

The End