In his 20 years managing golf courses, Erik Ostlund hasn’t seen storm damage quite like what he’s witnessed at Dobson Ranch in the last seven days.

The city-run golf course lost 57 trees in the last week: 44 trees in a single storm, Ostlund, administrator at Mesa’s parks and recreation department, said.

The more than 140-acre course is down 61 trees for the entire summer. 

Among the storm’s victims is an owl, a longtime Dobson Ranch resident, now displaced. His home overturned near the course’s 18th green. 

Dobson Ranch Golf Course reopened Thursday, though golfers will see dozens of tree carcasses scattered around the course. 

“We haven’t seen this kind of damage in well over probably 20 years, if not longer than that,” he said. “It’s really disheartening.”

MORE: Why have we had so many monsoon storms this August?

Cleaning up the damage will cost the city an estimated $50,000, Ostlund said.

Mesa is still calculating the total cost of summer monsoon storm damage for all city-owned properties, according to spokesman Kevin Christopher. High winds during this year’s season left a fair share of destruction. 

Mesa Cemetery, also run by the city, lost a staggering 130 trees during the July and August storms. It’s mostly stayed open through the damage.


A Dobson Ranch Golf Course employee caught a tree snapping in half during a storm on camera. The course lost 57 trees in just one week in August.
City of Mesa

As much as $1 million in damages 

Some trees on the course were uprooted during the week’s storms, others snapped at the trunk. Many of the trees were 50 to 60 years old, Ostlund said.

Dobson Ranch has lost about 7 percent of the 830 trees that stood at the outset of summer. 

The destroyed trees are mostly pine trees, but the course lost a handful of towering eucalyptus, which can grow as high as 50 feet, according to the University of Arizona.

Mesa will try to ramp up its replanting efforts, but the damage leaves a lot of work, Ostlund said. He estimates that between the value of the trees lost, the cost of cleaning up the damage and replanting, the total impact to the city could be as much as $1 million.

“It’s really just a matter of reinvesting and replanting the trees to provide that social value and environmental impact that the trees have on the golf course and the community as a whole,” he said. 


Workers clean up fallen trees at Dobson Ranch Golf Course in Mesa. City officials estimate it will cost $50,000 to clean up the damage from the trees.
Lily Altavena, The Republic |

Loss of trees could alter the game

Dobson Ranch’s trees, a verdant refuge in the middle of the desert, distinguish it from many Arizona golf courses.

But the trees are more than just decoration: Errant golf balls are tempered by lush branches instead of a golfer’s head or a neighbor’s window. They offer shade on a hot day. 

The heavy loss of trees could even change the way players golf, Ostlund said. Trees act as guideposts, helping golfers determine where to shoot. 

“When you lose this number of trees, it really starts tugging at the heart string a little bit,” he said. 

Ostlund said he remembers a few years ago, the course lost 10 trees. Others remember a 2011 storm that took out quite a few, but nothing like the nearly 60 that are now gone. 

“The monsoon this year is so much worse than years past,” he said. “Why? It’s kind of the almighty question.” 

Reach reporter Lily Altavena at [email protected] or 602-444-8927. Follow her on Twitter: @lilyalta



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