Trees that shielded homes from golf balls are poisoned

Officials at the Wailea Old Blue golf course had to trim 16 dead eucalyptus trees to their trunks because they had been poisoned, the general manager said.

The 40-foot-high, 20- to 25-year-old trees on the 16th hole provided protection from stray golf balls for homes makai of the hole, said Barry Helle, general manager of the Wailea Old Blue course Wednesday.

About a month ago, someone drilled about eight, 1-inch holes at the base of the trees and poured poison.

“You could smell the chemical,” Helle said.

On Sept. 19, the course superintendent told Helle that the trees were dying. An inspection of the trees found the holes and chemical residue.

The golf course has filed a police report on the vandalism. Helle said he believes that the vandals killed the trees to improve their views.

The dead trees have been trimmed to their trunks with branches removed at a cost of $15,000, Helle said. Planting new mature trees will cost between $30,000 and $40,000, he said.

The golf course also is considering putting up a big net because the homes below need to be protected, Helle added.