Golf Course Management

JAN 2017

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

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126 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 01.17 The quantity of water on Earth is abun- dant and essentially unchanging. However, both seasonal and long-term drought signifi - cantly impact its availability. Because demand for good-quality water often exceeds supply in much of the U.S., states have enacted rules and regulations to varying degrees, in an at - tempt to stave off water shortages. The sever- ity of the possible shortage and predicted fore- cast dictate how draconian the regulations are. For example, on April 1, 2015, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed an executive order mandating water reductions. The California Water Resources Control Board will oversee water reduction on golf courses, cemeteries and other large landscaped spaces; replace - ment of 50 million square feet of lawn state- wide with drought-tolerant landscaping; and a requirement for new homes to use drip ir - rigation (4). Previous efforts at curbing water use in California and elsewhere were typically handled at a more local level rather than by higher-level government. More recently, and on the opposite side of the country, a study revealed that Florida's water supply will be insufficient and unable to meet the state's demand by 2070 (3). In the Florida report, an example of water sav - ings through the employment of "Reduced Impact Development Practices" (that is, com - pact development = higher-density planning) included eliminating a golf course. Water quality Concerns about water quantity are matched by those about water quality, which has been decreased by point and nonpoint source pollution. Section 502(14) of the U.S. Clean Water Act defines point source as any "discernible, confined and discrete convey - ance, including but not limited to any pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure, container, rolling stock, concentrated animal feeding operation, or vessel or other floating craft, from which pollutants are or may be discharged" (11). Conversely, nonpoint source pollution is de - fined to mean any source of water pollution that does not meet the legal definition of point source in the U.S. Clean Water Act. Nonpoint source pollution comes from many different sources, including land runoff, precipitation, atmospheric deposition, drainage, seepage or modifications to natural waterways. Nonpoint source pollution occurs as rainfall or snow - melt moves over the surface and through the ground, picking up natural and man-made pollutants and then depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters or ground wa - ters. In most states, nonpoint source pollution is the leading cause of water-quality problems that adversely affect drinking water supplies, recreation, and marine life and wildlife. Turf industry response to water issues The turf industry has, in part, responded positively to the water issues. Over the past several decades, turfgrasses have been devel - oped that can tolerate drought or poor-quality water. Seashore paspalum, for example, is now used on golf courses where water quality is so poor that other species and cultivars cannot survive (5,6). Recent turfgrass cultivar releases such as Tif Tuf bermudagrass from the Uni - versity of Georgia have been shown to require dramatically less water than the industry stan - dard (8). Furthermore, turfgrass breeders and scientists across the U.S. have joined forces to develop and test turfgrass varieties that have reduced input demands. To this end, in 2016 the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) initiated cultivar trials conducted in rain-exclusion shelters to assess drought toler - ance of cool-season turfgrasses. The Alliance for Low Input Sustainable Turf (A-LIST) ( www.a-listturf.org ) seeks to "foster devel - opment of sustainable turfgrass varieties and related products that perform their function with less maintenance inputs, thus benefiting Top left: Testing the efficiency and accuracy of irrigation systems is a necessary step in reducing water use while maintaining turf quality on the golf course. Photo by Larry Stowell Above: Regularly scheduled water-quality measurements are necessary if golf courses are going to meet the standards set by local or federal rules and regulations. Photo by Erik Ervin Bottom left: Plant breeders are developing turfgrasses that better tolerate stress from drought, heat and disease. This rainout shelter is a testing area for drought-tolerant turf. Photo by Jason Kruse

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