OAK HILL's TREES
Set on over 300 acres in Western New York, the Oak Hill Country Club was designed by
famed golf course architect Donald Ross. But it's Dr. John Williams who is credited with
adding the trees and pioneering a program which has created a setting today comparable to
the best courses in the world. Elmer HUMES, a long-time member of Oak Hill has aided in
the tree planting and the maintenance since 1980.
HUMES: Dr. Williams is still recognized as the foremost perosn who is responsible for the
way Oak Hill Country Club looks today. There are now over 70 thousand trees at Oak Hill.
We can credit Dr. Williams for about 50 thousand of those being planted. We have about 130
different species. The primary reason for that being we are on the edge the beech maple
climax forest, as far as climate goes, and then the oak climax forest. So we can have the
combination of the two.
One of two arborists at Oak Hill is John Horsefall.
HORSEFALL: There are some unusual ones in certain respects. We have an upright English Oak
which was grown from seed, brought over from England in the pocket of Winston Churchill-
his mother used to live in this area. There's another tree which is unusual, a DAWN
Redwood- that tree was thought to be extinct. Many years ago, a member was on a trip and
found some seeds in a glacier. We have GINKOS out here which are not commonly planted-
that's also a very ancient tree. Kentucky COFFEE TREES out here. IN revolutionary times
they substituted for coffee.
60 percent of the trees are oaks- the red oaks and the white oaks which can reach ages
of 300 years. Oak Hill's oldest oak is thought to be from around 1700. Then there are the
maples, the hickories- in all over 100 broad leaf varieties. Elmer Humes-
HUMES: We have some beautiful European Beech- still featured in our front circle in front
of the club house. We have three stands of long-leafed pines with very long pine cones
eight to 12 inches long. It was always marveled that we able to grow long-leafed pines to
end of life in our cold climate, 70 to 90 years of age.
Between 30 and 50 trees are lost each year are lost to old age, lightning and storms.
One thousand were lost in the catastophic 1991 ice storm. When a strategic tree's
impending demise is identified, another is planted nearby to fill in when it's time. Some
trees are growing at a rate of one foot in all directions each year. And John Horsefall
says work at a golf course is truly never done.
HORSEFALL: People have a tendency to believe that trees are big and strong and take care
of themselves. And that's not quite true. And pruning them as they grow is absolutely
necessary. When they're planted too closely, they tend to intefere with each other. And
when they do that they create too much of a dense shade situation and the turf suffers.
Turf is king on any golf course. And although the trees are something to be proud of here,
they are secondary as far as the golf course is concerned.
HUMES: I beleive that Dr. John Williams in planting these thousands of trees did a great
deal to enhance Donald Ross' golf course and not change it, did not add so many extra
burdens to the golfers. And the trees really add a backdrop of beauty.
Until the Dawn redwoods catch up and sky above the majestic oaks, for our grand
children's pleasure, the red and white oaks remain rulers at Oak Hill- and so do those
HORSEFALL: They're in the bunkers, they're all over the greens, they're all over the tees
and the're in the rough- millions of 'em. And they've all gotta be cleaned up every fall.
The fans are welcome to pick up any acorn they can find. I'm sure the grounds crew will
appreciate it. And we are going to give acorns to all the players, both the American and
European teams. I think we're going to give them six different types of acorns. Hopefully,
they will get them germinated by someone and grow some plants for themselves.
Bill Flynn, WXXI 1370.