Future looks good for tree gashed by ax

A month after a vandal took an ax to the iconic fir tree at Chambers Bay Golf Course, arborists have delivered an encouraging prognosis.

They think the upscale, county-owned course’s only tree will live.

Still, its survival isn’t guaranteed. And it might be two to three years before the tree is completely out of danger.

But the consensus is that the Douglas fir will survive the deep gash that threatened to rob Chambers Bay, site of the 2015 U.S. Open, of its signature image.

“It’s good news,” Tony Tipton, Pierce County’s Chambers Bay project manager, said Thursday. “We remain cautiously optimistic, based on the feedback we’ve gotten from the arborist community that the tree can be saved.”

On the night of April 29-30, someone hacked an 18-inch-long, 8-inch-deep gash into the fir. University Place police are still investigating the crime.

The tree’s survival has been in doubt. Arborist Rob Lloyd delivered a mixed report on its health a few days after the attack. He concluded the tree was in poor health before the attack.

After that, Lloyd attached a metal brace to the tree. The county began a long-term care plan that included composting and regular watering.

Tipton said several arborists have since volunteered to inspect the tree and offer free advice.

“The consensus feel of the arborists who have come out is the tree will be able to survive, given proper care,” Tipton said.

The tree has become an icon at the links-style golf course in University Place. Chambers Bay opened last June to national acclaim, and photos of the tree have been featured in many publications.

Aside from its promotional value, the fir is a roosting place for bald eagles and a favorite landmark for people who walk the paved trail that winds through the course.

“We found out in a hurry that people care about that tree,” County Executive John Ladenburg said in a statement Thursday. “We look forward to having it with us a long time.”

David Wickert: 253-274-7341



Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and charges against the person or persons who vandalized the fir tree at Chambers Bay Golf Course. To provide information, call 253-591-5959. Callers will remain anonymous.