Does a tree deserve Ambassadorial status?

A giant tree situated adjacent to the 12th fairway has the ‘necessary credentials’ to join retired thoroughbred Winx as one of The Brisbane Golf Club’s band of Ambassadors.

The Crow’s Ash – botanically named Flindersia australis in honour of Matthew Flinders – is believed to be more than 170 years old and more than likely the oldest tree on the course. Anda nature-loving member, Al Haydock, believes it is time to give the old girl some historic status.

The Brisbane Golf Club currently has five Ambassadors, appointed because they embody the club in appearance, demeanour, value and ethics, and represent the brand to many potential new members in a positive way.

Those five Ambassadors are dual US Open Champion and former No.1 tennis player Patrick Rafter and current top-50 ranked John Millman, recently-retired Brisbane Lions AFL star Luke Hodge and ex-Test wicketkeeper Ian Healy, as well as the mighty mare Winx.

But even though Al realises his suggestion of Ambassadorial recognition is a long shot for getting the tick of approval from the Committee, he says some official acknowledgment should be made.

“Surely a 170-year-old tree on our course embodies those same qualities for which our existing Ambassadors were appointed,” said Al, a 16-year TBGC member.

“While members who strayed 30 metres right from the 12th fairway and lost their golf ball in the vicinity of the old girl might question her demeanour, no-one can deny her magnificent appearance, her size and her aesthetic value to the club. And just to add to her list of credentials, the beautiful old Crow’s Ash has been around almost as long as the existing seven Ambassadors collectively.”

As a geologist, Al has long had a love of nature. That interest has intensified since he retired and by playing more golf he has noticed the extent of the natural gems enhancing Queensland’s third-oldest golf course.

“This Crow’s Ash is a particular favourite,” he said.

“It is a magnificent specimen, has a distinctive motley bark, beautiful dark green foliage and produces creamy white flowers. As well, when the seed pods drop and then open, they form the shape of a five-pointed star.”

When he first noticed the Crow’s Ash, Al became intrigued as to its history and began his research. He discovered that the majority of this valuable timber, formerly known as Australian Teak, were cut down and the extremely-hard timber used in the flooring of Queenslander homes.

Al recently visited Brisbane’s historic Newstead House to view another giant Crow’s Ash in the grounds of Brisbane’s oldest surviving residence. His research indicated the tree was more than likely planted before the house was built in 1846, which ages it at least 174 years.

“It is a member of the Rutaceae family and the species was named after navigator, Matthew Flinders, the leader of the expedition that first collected the plant,” he revealed.

“Because our tree on the 12th hole is about the same size as the one in Newstead Park, it could be of a similar age. As well, it is probably the oldest tree on our golf course and, as such, we should brag about it.”

Al has also identified, and confirmed with the BGC Landscape Architect Richard Garnham, a younger Crow’s Ash standing behind the 10th green.

“This makes me wonder how many more immature Crow’s Ash trees might be growing where the seed pods have fallen,” he quizzed. – TONY DURKIN