Water, Nutrient Management And Pace Of Play

By Keith Happ, director, North-Central Region
December 6, 2013

Planning for the future means planning now. Act now to deal with water management, nutrient management and pace of play issues at your golf facility.

Three key issues as we move into the next golf season include water management, nutrient management and pace of play. These three topics are critically important to the sustained growth and development of the game for generations to come.

Water Use  

Portions of the region received their fair share of precipitation in 2013. Despite having full ponds and streams, conservation of water resources is a national issue. Many states are in the process of writing and debating water-use regulations and developing drought-contingency plans. Even if you were blessed with abundant water for the management of your turf, it is never too early to be proactive with the planning for water use in the future. This includes adjustments and upgrades to the irrigation system or alterations to the setup of the course to conserve water. For more information about golf’s use of water, please visit the newly-launched USGA Golf’s Use of Water Resource Center. This microsite has been developed to help and you can always contact Bob Vavrek and me if you have any questions.

Nutrient Management  

Nutrient management is also a topic of concern and relates directly to water quality. The USGA has funded extensive research regarding the use of nutrients to grow healthy grass and reduce the potential for non-target effects. Visit the USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research site. Best management practices (BMPs) have been developed by many states and will continue to be modified to focus on growing healthy grass that meets golfer demands. Developing a nutrient management plan that is based on science is a great start for the new golf season. Basing fertility decisions on information gained from soil samples submitted to accredited physical soil testing laboratories (click here for the full list) will allow nutrient levels to be maintained in the sufficiency ranges necessary to sustain turf performance while also minimizing the impact on the environment. 

Pace of Play  

Pace of play is an issue that must be dealt with on all fronts to further promote, develop and grow the game into the future. A recent National Golf Foundation (NGF) survey revealed that time is one of the main factors limiting more people from entering the game. Slow play affects the enjoyment of the game. Make it a point this season to plan and then implement programs that will speed play and make the game more fun. Green speed, hole locations, tee marker placement and rough height are just some of the primary factors that affect pace of play. Discuss course setup with the Green Committee and/or Golf Committee to develop a policy that defines the manner in which golf course turf and playing areas will be prepared for play. For more information, please visit the USGA Pace of Play Resource Center. Also, the USGA Green Section can help. Don’t hesitate to contact our offices for any information regarding any of these issues.

It is not too early to plan to attend our USGA Regional Conference March 11, 2014 at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa. We make every effort to control costs by partnering with allied associations. The modest fee of $45 provides a continental breakfast, a great slate of speakers covering topics for all and concludes with lunch. Mark your calendars to join us; it is a great way to kick off the season. 

Keith Happ khapp@usga.org

Information on the USGA’s Turf Advisory Service

Contact the Green Section Staff

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