HARARE, Zimbabwe —
“If we are to retain water, these trees need to come down,” Mathieson said. Nearby pine trees also make the soil acidic and “there is also the threat of falling debris from the old trees,” he said.
Experts have been called in for the replanting exercise that requires careful planning. Every hole has trees planted in ways to make the game more challenging, according to Mathieson.
“A player has to contend with the trees if he hits the ball out of the fairway,” he said.
The purple blossoming jacaranda tree, a native of South America and Asia brought to Africa by early missionaries, will be spared at Royal Harare. It has become synonymous with Zimbabwe’s “spring” season because it blooms at winter’s end.
Thorn trees, a member of the local acacia species that grows in dozens of African varieties with different hues and shapes, are the indigenous trees of choice at the golf club.
“The thorn tree grows much faster than any other indigenous tree,” said green keeper Fibion Chikwaya, who has tended the course for 17 years.
Duikers, a small southern African species of antelope, rabbits and guinea fowl live on the course, which is sandwiched among offices, apartments and suburban homes. The animals graze oblivious to the hazards of flying golf balls. Their young are reared mostly unseen in thickets, Chikwaya said.
“We never know when they are born and only get to see them when they are grown,” he said.
He said the animals sometimes fall prey to night poachers as they have come to trust humans through contact with golfers who “can come a meter (a yard) close to them, and they won’t run away because they know no harm will befall them.”
The course is home to more than 100 species of birds, many of which migrate thousands of kilometers (miles) to the southern hemisphere every year, he said.