'You folks should be ashamed': USGA championships host in trouble for tree removal

Golf course news & notes: April, 2022.
2017 U.S. Senior Open host course Salem Country Club in Peabody, Mass., is in hot water over its recent unauthorized removal of hundreds of trees from the property.

Tree removal can be a deceptively expensive enterprise in the best of cases for golf courses. For one club with historic ties to the USGA, it could cost millions more than anticipated.

The Donald Ross-designed Salem Country Club in Peabody, Mass., is one of the Bay State's best, cut through forest and winding over exciting terrain and past rock outcroppings on several holes. Some renovation work in December 2021 and January 2022 saw the removal of 683 trees from the property over the course of two weeks.

Such a venture is typically worth applauding, especially at classic courses where vegetation has encroached over the decades, often to the detriment of the the way holes are meant to play and feel.

But in Salem's case, more than 200 of the felled trees were located on land that is overseen by Peabody's Conservation Commission, and were removed without the proper authorization.

"You folks should be ashamed," said a commissioner at a recent meeting, according to Club and Resort Business.

The club stands to receive far more than a tongue-lashing. Their infraction could well cost them the tax-friendly status that many private clubs enjoy, and often require in order to remain financially viable. Salem Country Club has long benefited from a 75 % tax abatement due to the club's preservation of green space under Massachusetts law. That abatement is in jeopardy if the Conservation Commission decides to make an example of the club.

Salem Country Club has hosted six USGA Championships in its history, including the 1954 U.S. Women's Open, won by Babe Didrikson Zaharias; and the 2017 U.S. Senior Open, won by Kenny Perry.

More golf course news and notes

Entrada at Snow Canyon has never looked better, thanks to a 17-month renovation project led by architect David McLay Kidd.

UNIQUE DESERT/LAVA FIELD COURSE REOPENS - Entrada at Snow Canyon, a St. George, Utah-area club originally laid out by Johnny Miller, has just reopened after a $7-million, 17-month renovation project that saw architect David McLay Kidd rethink the course's design in order to encourage members and guests to use the ground game more readily throughout their rounds. The course, which features several holes in a lava field, is mostly private but can be accessed by guests of the nearby Inn at Entrada.

OLDEST AMERICAN COURSE TO BE PRESERVED - Pennsylvania's Foxburg Country Club, operational since 1887 and therefore the longest continuously-open course in America, will be stewarded in the coming years by architect Ron Forse of Forse Golf Design. [LINK: Golf Course Industry]

BUNKER RESTORATION AT WISCONSIN CLASSIC - The beloved Links Course at Lawsonia in central Wisconsin is one of the best Golden Age golf courses open to the public, and its ownership continues to refine it. This summer, that process will take the form of new sand and drainage in the bunkers, which will be improved one at a time in order to minimize the disturbance to golfers enjoying the Langford & Moreau gem.

LATEST LOS CABOS SHAKEUP - In recent years, it seems the golf courses at Cabo Del Sol have had as many face-lifts as the vainest visitors to the area. The latest round of changes will be to the upland Desert Course, where Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design will be incorporating six new holes into the layout in the coming months. In an uncommon turn of events, the land lost to the renovation will be partly given over to the Cove Club course (the Jack Nicklaus course formerly known as the Ocean Course) for a future redesign of its own. [LINK: The Golf Wire]

SMALL-BALL IN THE CALI DESERT - Jay Blasi, who was Robert Trent Jones II's man on the ground for the design of epic 2015 U.S. Open host Chambers Bay, just opened a one-acre, Himalayas-styled Flamingo Putting Course on the grounds of Shadow Mountain Golf Club. The course's new owner, octogenarian Lindi Biggi, aims to turn Shadow Mountain into a midcentury-modern golf "playground for adults." [LINK: Club + Resort Business]

GOLF-ADJACENT - Hollywood actor and confirmed golf nut Mark Wahlberg's mansion is up for sale for $87.5 million. If that sounds steep, consider that it also includes a five-hole synthetic-turf golf course. [LINK: TimeOut]

Got any golf course news tidbits to share? Drop me a line here.

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for GolfPass. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
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'You folks should be ashamed': USGA championships host in trouble for tree removal