Royal Sydney Golf Course backs down on controversial tree removal plan

Sydney’s most prestigious golf club Royal Sydney has scrapped plans to bulldoze hundreds of trees along its proposed championship course.

But club president Chris Chapman advised members that the controversial US golf course architect Gil Hanse had been retained for the revisions.

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Golf course designer Gil Hanse with Donald Trump in 2012. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Royal Sydney Golf Course. Picture: Supplied

The initial design that involved the removal of 560 trees to widen fairways and improve bunkers at the Rose Bay course was getting resistance from Woollahra Council, although 80 per cent of members voted in 2019 in support.

“With the benefit of further reflection and consideration, we realised that our development application would be aided by the retention of many more trees and much deeper information on understorey cover, tree canopy cover and further ecological work,” Chapman conceded.

Royal Sydney Golf Course. Picture: Supplied

The club remains “confident” of an approval by next May to “avoid any need to take the matter to the Land & Environment Court”.

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Meanwhile, Hanse has rearranged his international schedule to accommodate the project’s April 2022 envisaged start. “His enthusiasm for the reimagining of the course is undiminished,” Chapman advised his 1400 members.

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Course architect Gil Hanse unveiling the PGA of America’s new golf courses in Frisco, TX in 2019. (photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images for the PGA of America)

Hanse featured in the Rick Reilly book, Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Donald Trump.

It was Hanse, with Trump “by his side at every step”, who gave the world renowned Doral course in Miami “a charm bypass”. Doral shortly afterwards ceased hosting the WGC-Cadillac Championship, with the PGA Tour taking the tournament to Mexico.