When the head of Mississippi State’s Institute of Golf needed the right trees to improve playability and course safety, he had only to travel a short distance to the university’s College of Forest Resources.
Tony Luczak, a Professional Golfers Association member who has directed the golf institute for four years, said he knew additional trees would add aesthetic value, as well as various practical benefits to the 18-hole, par-72 facility. After reaching out to Andrew Ezell, MSU forestry department head, the two began creating a vision for the course’s tree-lined future.
The golf course now is home to 2,200 newly planted trees. Weyerhaeuser and Plum Creek Timber companies each donated 1,000 loblolly pine seedlings, while Joshua Timberlands Nursery donated 200 green ash seedlings. Members of the student chapter of the Society of American Foresters planted them over a recent two-day period.
The course is located three miles east of campus on state Highway 182.
Luczak, a 1990 MSU graduate and PGA member since 1992, praised the collaborative project is an example of interdepartmental coordination that saved the university considerable money. Purchasing trees and planting services would have been very expensive, he explained.
He also is looking forward to using the pine straw of mature trees for landscaping, which also would be very costly if purchased commercially.
"As an auxiliary unit of the university, we function off the revenue we generate," Luczak said. "This was a great opportunity to work with the forestry department to improve our property."
Luczak said the trees will have long-term playability and safety effects by serving as natural fairway barriers. Also, from a purely cosmetic standpoint, "it’s going to look gorgeous," he added, with a broad grin.
He expressed great appreciation for Ezell’s expertise on matters of topography and soil conditions to yield the best selection of trees that could both thrive and serve the needed functions.
For his part, Ezell pointed out two major secondary benefits:
"Students want to give something back to the university and show their devotion by contributing some type of service," Ezell said.
"With organized crews and hardworking forestry students, they planted all 2,200 trees in a matter of two days, but they will be able to come back to this university long after their graduation and say, ‘I helped plant those trees,‘" he said.
Ezell, the professional forester, observed that "anytime you plant a tree, you create a bit of a legacy. They were able to contribute and leave something that people will enjoy literally for decades."