The Centennial Don Roberto Bismarck Palm
By: Paul Hickman, Golf Course Superintendent
Long time and now retired golf course superintendent at Mission Inn, Steve Retey, called me to let me know that Mr. Bob Beucher had bought 15 Bismarck Palms to be planted on the golf course and delivery was within the hour. I had been on the job for less than one week and was still trying to understand the complexities of operating two golf course maintenance programs. My immediate thoughts went to how to incorporate a tropical South Florida type palm into golf courses that had palmettos, pines, oaks and other native plant material in abundance throughout both courses.
This was the beginning of my journey of knowing Bob Beucher as a great visionary for Mission Inn. Too many times I have fallen well short of understanding his grand plan for these two great golf courses. Now I have began to realize that over the past 50 years, Bob has in effect become part of this property in thought, mind and deed and therefore has a great vision for a long term outcome. Unfortunately, the slow learner I am, it has taken me 12 years of being the Mission Inn Golf Course Superintendent, to come to terms with Mr. Bob’s wonderful vision for Mission Inn’s golf courses.
Very quickly, to buy time for placing these palms in more strategic locations, I decided to plant the palms (approximately 6 feet in height) in a common holding area, if you will, that had water and enough sunlight to hold them until I could find permanent homes for them. Now 12 years has past and 4 of the 15 trees are still in this holding area next to #1 tee El Campeon, and one in particular has become a magnificent specimen. I have seen these palms in the West Palm Beach area reach heights of 30 feet and frond spreads of almost the same as the height of the tree. Truly they are majestically formidable in the landscape, and deserve extreme admiration and care. Mission Inn now has a specimen that parallels those trees that I have witnessed in South Florida. Little did I know, when we planted these palms in that 12 year holding area, the light, soil, moisture, and freeze protection (paramount) was nearly perfect. Since this planting 12 years ago, the maintenance staff along with Gaspar Sanchez and assisted by Steve Jones Contractor, has transplanted 11 of these palms to various places near the driving range and the clubhouse. Transplanting Bismarck palms is a very tedious business, for the size of the fronds creates a very unstable condition during the transplant. Unfortunately, we have lost several Bismarcks due to not thoroughly understanding this particular tree’s transplanting process.
Now please join me in admiring this wonderful palm located at # 1 tee El Campeon, The Centennial Don Roberto Bismarck Palm, so named to honor a man of vision for Mission Inn’s extraordinary golf courses. I tip my hat to you, Bob Beucher, for your contribution to our golf courses.