Thursday, 29 March 2012

Water and It's Impact on Golf

This is another excerpt from my presentation given at the USGA Conference.

Changes at Pinehurst vastly reduced the water requirements

 Everyone involved in Golf acknowledges the biggest potential crisis is a shortage of water. In most areas there is already intense pressure for golf courses to reduce their consumption. In some communities there is heavy restriction on how and when water can be used and in some locals there is no water available for new projects.

The most common practice today is for golf courses to make use of the excess water collected during high water flow in our creeks and streams. And because of that most golf courses have built storage ponds to hold water for future use when restrictions are in place. I see a future where golf courses might have to be self-sustaining. Courses could collect all run-off, rainfall and melt using a massive network of drainage and store it in a series of holding ponds large enough to supply water all year.

The one option that is becoming more common is the use of treated water. Some of the sources are reasonable, others are terrible. Municipalities use the golf courses to filter their treated water before it returns back into the aquifer. The big issue will be the level of salinity. Some have suggested grey water, but that is also dependent upon the quality. The one answer may be a split system where fresh water is used for greens and treated water for the remainder.

My experience with treated water is that during periods of drought, the turf suffers as the salinity builds up in the soil, and only after a good rain does the health of the turf return. This is quite similar to many of the urban courses where the creek or river is used as part of a city’s storm water management system and the water quality fluctuates.

It’s essential to understand the impact of the water source before any grassing is selected or before the maintenance approach is decised.

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