Highlights From The Northern California Regional Conference March 19, 2014 By Pat Gross

Industry professionals from northern California gathered at Diablo Country Club in Diablo, Calif. on Monday, March 17 for the GCSANC and USGA Regional Conference. The group celebrated the centennial of Diablo Country Club in addition to sharing practical information about golf course maintenance. A broad range of topics were presented throughout the day including pace of play, rules, architecture, turfgrass research and water issues. The following are a few brief highlights from the conference.

Pace of Play - Brian Whitlark gave an informative presentation discussing golf course maintenance issues that affect pace of play. Key points he stressed included:

  • The 18 to 20 handicap golfer, the “bogey golfer,” is your best customer and typically plays the most rounds of any group. Course set-up should be done with this group in mind.
  • Tee shots for the bogey golfer average 200 to 220 yards for men and 150 to 170 yards for women. Tee marker placement based on these figures should be carefully considered with regard to hazards and forced carries.
  • Maintain good mowing frequency in the rough and avoid excessively tall rough (greater than 2-inches) that contributes to slow play and difficulty finding golf balls in the rough.

Designing for water conservation – Architect Kyle Phillips shared information about his recent renovation of Menlo Country Club. Water costs for the club had increased 1000 percent over the past 27 years, and a key element of the new design included features to reduce water consumption, such as:

  • Elimination of a leaky pond on the property.
  • Design and installation of a new irrigation system with 2,600 sprinklers installed on 60 ft. spacing. The new system provides significantly better coverage and control, producing a 10 to 20 percent water savings due to the improved efficiency.
  • Hydroseeding of tees, fairways, and rough, which allowed 30 percent less water to be used during establishment compared to areas that were drill-seeded.
  • The new design converted 37 acres of maintained turf to naturalized rough using a blend of fine fescue varieties that is expected to use minimal water once established.

Golf’s use of water – Pat Gross concluded the program with an overview of local and national water issues affecting drought-stricken California. He mentioned the following six key questions that every golf facility should be asking regarding water use:

  1. Do we have a dependable source of water, both now and in the future? Could that situation ever change?
  2. Is our irrigation system capable of applying water as efficiently as possible? Are we taking advantage of technology to improve irrigation efficiency?
  3. Do we have an irrigation management plan that efficiently manages current water resources?
  4. What is our plan for dealing with drought and mandatory water cutbacks?
  5. Is our facility taking the proper steps to prevent runoff and protect water quality in the watershed.
  6. Have we effectively communicated to our golfers the importance of conserving water and how our efforts will impact the appearance and playing quality of the golf course?

Source: Pat Gross (

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