Branching Out While in Hong Kong

October 25, 2010

Internships are all about learning new practices, ideas, and skills. One of my favorite skills I have learned while on internship with the Hong Kong Golf Club involves ‘hanging out.’ I’m not talking about sitting back with a few friends playing video games, but instead I’ve been spending some time hanging out in the trees with our arboriculture team.

Here at the HKGC we employ three tree climbers who are working on receiving their certification. They have undergone many hours of schooling, and are now gaining their experience hours before becoming certified. All their education and experience really has been paying off for them, and I have been able to learn a lot from working along side them.

The tree climbers will be certified through the International Society of Arboriculture. I have been reading through an English version of the test material (with side notes written in Chinese by the owner) and have found it to be very interesting. Many golf course workers across the world could find this information very valuable.

Trees can play either a very integral part in to the design of a golf course or may just randomly spot the landscape, but all the same, these large plants must still be cared for. The arborist certification guide includes information about tree biology and identification; soil, water, and nutrient management; selection and installation; pruning and plant health; and climbing and working in trees. Some of the topics such as soil, water and nutrient management may be very familiar to golf course managers while other topics such as pruning and climbing may be topics some managers may want to learn or brush up on a bit. A well-pruned tree is much healthier and can live much longer than one that has not been properly cared for.

One of the great benefits of tree climbing skills is the elimination of expensive heavy machinery that can tear up turf. Sometimes, this machinery can not even reach the tree that needs to be pruned because of many reasons such as uneven land or other objects too close to the tree that needs to be pruned. While learning to climb trees I have noticed it takes a lot of problem solving and creativity. Sometimes you have to really think about what branch to walk on, where to tie off to, where to reset your climbing line to so you can reach the branch you want to work on. On the first few lessons I also learned it is a great whole body work out that left me so sore for a few days I barely wanted to move.

Tree climbing can also be a great hobby that can have many carry over benefits that most of us could use in our daily operations while working in trees on a golf course. For more information about becoming certified visit the International Society of Arboriculture at

I have heard the best way to learn to climb is to find a local climber, or climbing group, and learn from them. Books are great, but there is no replacing the information you can learn while hanging in a tree, suspended only by a rope, swinging from branch to branch.