COURSE CARE
Lessons Learned From San Antonio March 3, 2015 By John Daniels, agronomist, Central Region

“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” - H. James Harrington

A broad range of topics and new products were presented last week at the 2015 Golf Industry Show in San Antonio, Texas. Based on the increasing number of presentations and products that directly or indirectly address responsible water use it was obvious that the industry is taking the issue of water conservation more seriously every year.

Karen Guz, conservation director, San Antonio Water System, discussed how communities and golf facilities benefit from efficient water use during her presentation at the USGA General Session. Guz suggested avoiding deprivation-style messages when discussing water conservation. Instead, focus on the positives like updating an existing landscape instead of eliminating turf, investing in new irrigation technology instead of removing irrigation, and utilizing the best available grass for your site instead of sacrificing conditions.

One technology that has become commonplace at golf courses throughout the region is the use of moisture meters. Whether you prefer the FieldScout™ (Spectrum Technologies, Inc.), POGO™ (Stevens Water Monitoring Systems, Inc.), or some other device, being able to accurately measure soil moisture to make better-informed decisions regarding irrigation is paramount to water savings and firmer, more consistent playing conditions. Software upgrades that will make it easier to map and record moisture data are in various stages of development. The ability to map past soil moisture data across playing surfaces will be a valuable aid in diagnosing irrigation system problems before they adversely affect turf health.

Another technology highlighted at the trade show was the use of local weather stations. Many courses have one on-site weather station which can aid in pest management and irrigation decisions. However, a single weather station isn’t able to account for the variability of weather events and microclimates across the entire property of most golf facilities. Using several smaller weather stations located in appropriate sites can help account for variable, unique environments. The ultimate goal is to provide enough weather data to adjust irrigation based upon varying evapotranspiration (ET) values throughout the course.

Source: John Daniels (jdaniels@usga.org)

More from the USGA