Virginia Golfer May / June 2015 - Page 20

Golf and the Environment Targeted watering is a practice adopted at some layouts as courses take on more rounds per gallon, depending on a variety of factors. AN 18TH CENTURY ENGLISH POEM, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” is the origin of our expression, “Water, water everywhere, but nary a drop to drink.” In the 21st century, that idea translates to government prohibitions on lawn watering or other non-essential uses of H2O, a basic resource that once seemed limitless. But American ingenuity is dealing with the new premium on water use. Golf course superintendents have been teaming up with industry associations and turf equipment manufacturers to effectively counter the water-shortage issue. Sophisticated, high-tech irrigation systems are one of the principal tools for water stewardship, both inside and outside of golf. Jeff Holliday, golf course superintendent at Salisbury Country Club, describes the new triple-line system at his Richmond-area club in glowing terms. It was installed in 2013—without the need for a full course closure at the 27-hole facility—so it now has a two-season track record. Whereas two runs of water pipe used to lie beneath each fairway, now there’s a trio of parallel lines. That’s one of many features that creates versatility and provides an opportunity to micro-target where the water should go. “Another important difference in the new system is that the heads get activated electronically, not hydraulically, as with our old system,” Holliday says. “That means they pop up instantly, with no delay, and immediately deliver water to where it’s needed.” With hydraulic activation, the delay isn’t long—just a second or two extra during turn-on and shut off—but over a long season that adds up to thousands of gallons. The hydraulic approach worked just fine when supply and demand for water was a non-issue, but that era is passing. 18 V I R G I N I A G O L F E R | M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 5 18_VSGA_MayJune15.indd 18 “Another great feature of electronic activation is that it lets you be selective,” Holliday explains. “In a given half-acre, covered by three heads, you might find that only one-third of that area is dry. We can irrigate that section of turf with one sprinkler and leave the other two heads off. Hydraulic lines wouldn’t permit that.” DIFFERENT DYNAMICS LEAD TO RESPONSIBLE MANAGEMENT The 2014 season at Salisbury witnessed fairly average rainfall, according to Holliday. However, there was a dry spell of several weeks that raised talk of precautionary watering restrictions. Under an agreement with the municipal water commission, the club contributes about $3,000 annually to a capital expenditures fund that keeps Lake Salisbury functioning properly as a reservoir and helps maintain its aesthetic appeal. That public lake is the third of three lakes or ponds from which the club draws its irrigation water, with the other two being on the course property. “When the rainfall dips below average for an extended period, we can cut off the two outside lines on each hole and just water along the center,” Holliday says. Under that scenario, the roughs will survive but they’ll get wispy and give up their green lushness, while the fairway turf monopolizes the available moisture. “We’re using 40 percent less water” than before the conservation program began, Holliday reports. It’s a positive outcome, with more headroom for savings still available. Of course, it isn’t merely rainfall amounts that influence irrigation patterns and the health of the turf. Another big factor is the amount of play the course receives, in particular the number of rounds played using golf carts. Dan CONTINUING EDUCATION AND WISE IMPLEMENTATION Rhett Evans looks at the water conservation challenge in golf from a national perspective. As CEO of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, Evans was paying special attention to the recent announcement by the governor of California, Jerry Brown, concerning restrictions to be imposed throughout the Golden State. “It had the sense of someone sounding an alarm when California imposed its 25 percent reduction on permitted use of water,” Evans says. “It’s a big deal for the western U.S., but the national media shouldn’t get the idea that golf CARTER: BRET DOUGLAS; SCOTT K. BROWN Strategic uses of the natural resource is increasingly becoming part of the practice for superintendents | by DAVID GOULD STEVEN GIBBONS/USGA PHOTO ARCHIVES Golf Gets Smart About Water Taylor, superintendent at Independence Golf Club, another Richmond notable, says private clubs with active caddie programs will respond differently to dry conditions than a busy dailyfee like Independence. “The clubs with lighter play and a lot of walking rounds can embrace the ‘brown is beautiful’ concept a little more,” Taylor says. Healthy turf that is kept too far on the dry side will eventually die off if motorized cart traffic gets excessive. Still, it’s no cause for overwatering, either. “A continually wet golf course is not desirable in any circumstances,” Tayl ܈