Golf Course Management

MAR 2015

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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Page 19 of 133

18 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.15 When you work in the business of golf course management, you know that any news story with the word "megadrought" in the headline isn't going to be a pleasant read. And, true to form, the stories that began to pop up in the national news in early Febru - ary touting a study by NASA, Cornell Uni- versity and Columbia University that predicts decades-long drought conditions for large swaths of the U.S. Southwest and Plains re - gions over the next century was anything but good news, not just for golf but for society in general. The study, published in the journal Science Advances, concludes that future drought risk in those areas is likely to exceed the driest con - ditions since the Middle Ages, with a stagger- ing 80 percent likelihood of extended drought between 2050 and 2099. The reasons cited for this drought? Accelerating climate change gets its fair share of the blame, but the scientists mainly point to a problem with supply and de - mand as the reasons for their dire predictions — water supplies in these parts of the U.S. simply can't keep up with the demands placed upon them by the number of people who now call these areas home. "Ultimately, the consistency of our re - sults suggests an exceptionally high risk of multidecadal megadroughts … (and) a level of aridity exceeding even the persistent mega - droughts that characterized the Medieval era," the study concludes. Ominous words, to be sure. But if you're looking for a sliver of hope amid all the doom and gloom, the scientists did attach a pretty big condition to their predictions. If aggres - sive steps are taken to address the many factors contributing to drought, they say, then there is a chance the overall impact of future droughts can be mitigated. If not, well … So what does this all mean for golf course superintendents, aside from the fact golf will likely be the least of the worries for future su - perintendents if these predictions play out? As I see it, the most immediate takeaway was that our industry, on the whole, has already started taking the kinds of steps suggested in the report in regard to water management and usage. A prime example of those steps was "Golf and Water: Evolving Best Management Practices," a water summit that took place re - cently in Pasadena, Calif., that GCM's How- ard Richman chronicles on Page 24 of this month's issue. The summit brought together the region's major players in both golf course management and water to discuss ways they could not only coexist, but also work together to form pro - active plans of attack in the face of the cur- rent drought plaguing the Golden State. They shared stories of participating in turf rebate programs, installing more effcient irrigation nozzles, switching pump stations … anything that might help superintendents more wisely and effectively utilize this crucial resource in the face of crippling drought conditions. It's probably fair to argue whether events such as "Golf and Water" or even the specifc steps discussed at the summit go far enough in addressing the dire situation facing us all. Shouldn't we all be doing much, much more in the face of an impending megadrought? The easy answer to that question is yes. But boiling down the entire debate about water management and drought to this level misses the broader point, in my opinion. Sure, we all should be doing more to conserve water and preserve supplies for future generations. We also should be doing more to end world hunger, cure cancer, end global conficts. The real point is that we're at least doing something about our water woes, and as is often the case, golf and superintendents are leading the way. Thanks to the hard work of many, legislators from the national, state and local levels, municipal water regulators and even members of the general public recog - nize that superintendents are taking the ini- tiative on this issue, that they want to do the right things and that they're prepared to do even more. And when trying to solve a problem as big as an impending megadrought, it's those ini - tial steps that form a foundation for what ulti- mately will become a fnal solution. Scott Hollister is GCM 's editor-in-chief. Meeting tomorrow's megachallenges Many recognize that superintendents are taking the initiative on this issue, that they want to do the right things and that they're prepared to do even more. (inside gcm) Scott Hollister twitter: @GCM_Magazine

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