|This hazard punishes the weakest the most|
A.W. Tillinghast stated the trees can have strategic value as long as it “does not interfere with the sound play of the game” The problem that I consistently run into time and time again is that most courses have planted trees inside of the tree lines trying to reinforce “strategy” and ended up with a jail effect each time the player strays off line.
When you think about the tree as a hazard, it represents the only vertical hazard in the game. Even a perfectly struck shot can be knocked down by the branching structure and redirected into deeper trouble. Where committees have made their greatest mistakes is when they place trees they forget that they will mature and eventually remove all the options on the hole if planted in the wrong spot. As Donald Ross said, “Trees should serve perhaps as the scenery, but never as part of the stage.”
The most offensive of all trees is the one “in” the fairway proper. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing a situation where a player can hit their very best down the centre of the fairway only to have their tee shot knocked down by the tree or become stymied on their next shot. There is not a single great tree found in a fairway in golf, each is as ridiculous and inexcusable as the last. Their only value comes one year after they are cut down when the firewood is dried out enough to make it to the clubhouse fireplace.