California Golf Courses Dealing With Water Restrictions February 27, 2015

California Golf Courses Dealing With Water Restrictions

By Pat Gross, Director, Southwest Green Section
September 4, 2009


09-04-2009 Picture  
In response to mandatory water cutbacks in California, some courses have eliminated irrigation in all rough areas and have focused on keeping tees, greens, and fairways alive.  
Many courses throughout California are suffering the effects of mandatory water cutbacks. Both Los Angeles and San Diego imposed a 15% mandatory reduction with restrictions on days and times that golf courses can irrigate. Variances to the ordinance that allow courses to irrigate as needed have been granted if courses agree to accept an additional 5% cutback. The most severe situation so far this year is the City of Santa Cruz, where a 28% mandatory cutback was imposed. This has resulted in golf courses eliminating irrigation in the rough and practice range facilities, in addition to reducing water applications to the fairways.


Several courses in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California are in the process of installing wells to provide a supplement to the water supply. Unfortunately, most of these wells produce poor quality water or do not have the capacity to provide a significant amount of water to meet irrigation needs.

To deal with the situation, golf courses affected by the cutbacks utilize the following management practices:

  • Implementation of a drought contingency plan (watering prioritized to greens, green banks, fairway landing zones and tees. Watering reduced or eliminated in other areas).
  • More time devoted to maintenance and adjustment of the irrigation system to ensure maximum efficiency.
  • Application of wetting agents.
  • Use of portable moisture meters to accurately monitor soil moisture status and help determine if irrigation is necessary and how much to apply.
  • Reducing or eliminating the washing of maintenance equipment.
  • Development of long range plans to reduce turf in out of play areas and upgrade the irrigation system.

Source: Pat Gross, Director, Southwest Region.