Water use on golf courses is scrutinized far more now than ever before. The desire to conserve water, save money and provide golfers with firm, fast playing conditions has brought about significant changes in golf course irrigation. Many golf facilities have taken advantage of irrigation designs that improve efficiency and new technologies that help reduce water use and improve playing conditions.
Today’s irrigation systems incorporate new moisture-sensing technologies that greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of irrigation. Modern irrigation system designs are also capable of reducing the time required to irrigate a golf course, making it is easier for superintendents to water at night when golfers are not on the course and environmental conditions are most conducive to watering. As such, many golf courses have been able to reduce water use and provide more consistent playing conditions on a daily basis. However, even with a state-of-the-art irrigation system, turf managers may still need to use sprinklers during the day for a variety of important reasons.
Golfers might see sprinklers running during the day following a fertilizer or plant protectant application because some products must be watered in to work effectively or prevent turf damage. Sprinklers are also commonly used during the day to cool large areas of turf or prevent damage from golf carts driving over drought-stressed areas. Golf courses with a small labor force are especially reliant on sprinklers to irrigate large areas such as fairways because they have limited staff available for hand watering. Even well-staffed golf facilities that regularly hand water putting green complexes and other isolated areas often use sprinklers during the day to quickly cover large areas. Daytime sprinkler use is especially common at courses where annual bluegrass dominates playing surfaces, because this species has little tolerance to heat or drought.
The next time you see sprinklers running during the day, please be patient and remember that they are likely running for good reason. The article, “Every Drop Counts: Watering with Precision and Efficiency,” discusses technologies and techniques that help golf courses conserve water and improve water management programs.