Item Photo By OWEN O’ROURKE
Dan McCarthy, of Mayer Tree Service, taking down trees at Gannon Golf Course in Lynn.
By THOR JOURGENSEN
LYNN — Tree cutters armed with oversized chainsaws are working to ensure Gannon Municipal golfers like Jack Imperial heighten their playing experience on the public course when spring rolls around and the course’s fairways soak in sunshine.
Almost 350 trees located at Gannon are being cut down and removed from the course over the next several weeks by Essex-based Mayer Tree Service. Working off a master plan for improving the course, Gannon manager Golf Facilities Management — headed by veteran Gannon greens superintendent Stephen Murphy — is overseeing what Murphy described as Gannon’s most comprehensive tree-clearing project in decades.
“Tree cutting is very important for golf courses. This is the stuff that is going to keep Gannon a premier public course,” Murphy said.
Mayer crews started clearing away big red oaks and white pines Dec. 28 and returned to the course Monday with towering cranes and climbing harnesses. Cranes rolled onto the course along heavy wood plank paths intended to keep the big machines from damaging course grass. Workers cut away sections of trees and the cranes lowered the sections to waiting trucks.
The $340,000 clearing project will be done in two phases, and Golf Facilities secretary/treasurer — and golf professional — Chris Carter said the first phase will take up to five weeks. Carter said grass kept in perpetual shade by overhanging branches freezes and suffers ice damage.
“The course is getting suffocated with so many overhanging branches and some of the trees are just unhealthy,” Carter said.
Murphy said a second phase intended to clear an additional 110 trees will be concentrated around the 13th and 14th holes. He said the holes’ proximity to ponds means an environmental review will precede the clearing work.
Murphy called Mayer “a fabulous contractor” and said the company cleared 390 trees off Salem Country Club’s course last year. Lynn resident Imperial has golfed at Gannon for 62 years, swinging his first club during his days as a caddy. He is a self-described “traditionalist” golfer who prefers tree-lined fairways.
“Certain spots definitely need tree clearing,” Imperial said.
The clearing work fits into Gannon’s master plan that outlines course revival efforts. The city Board of Park Commissioners has course oversight, and board chairman Steve Babbitt said tree clearing adds light to fairways and promotes grass growth.
“People will find the playability of the course will be a lot better,” Murphy added.
Thor Jourgensen can be reached at [email protected]