Best Management Practices (BMPs) in golf course management are critical for the protection and efficient utilization of our most valuable resources. BMPs are broad principles. The golf course manager implements these concepts with specific actions pertinent to the golf course. The USGA highlights case studies from across the U.S. that showcase real-world solutions implemented by golf courses to best utilize the resources at their disposal.
Best Management Practice Case Studies
Improving Surface Drainage To Reduce The Risk Of Winter Injury
Glen Oak Country Club: The putting greens at Glen Oak Country Club consist primarily of Poa annua, a grass that is highly susceptible to crown hydration – one of the most common forms of winter injury in the northern United States. Following sequential years of winterkill on Poa annua putting greens, Superintendent Gino Marchetti implemented several management programs to reduce the risk of winter injury.
An Equipment Wash Water Solution
Locust Hill Country Club: Locust Hill Country Club was certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary by Audubon International in 2014. During the certification process, weaknesses were identified in the equipment wash area. Clippings would accumulate and develop an unpleasant odor and equipment washing consumed a significant amount of water. Superintendent Rick Slattery, CGCS, hoped to create a low cost and more sustainable closed system for the equipment washing area.
Irrigating Difficult Bunker Banks
Point Judith Country Club: Point Judith Country Club is a Donald Ross golf course that features steep grass bunker banks. The bunker banks are composed of a blend of chewings fescue and Kentucky bluegrass and irrigated with designated green surround sprinklers. The drought-prone south-facing slopes were challenging to maintain in summer and required additional hand watering and frequent wetting agent applications to minimize turf damage.
Bentgrass Fairway Conversion Improves Playability And Reduces Inputs
Corning Country Club: The fairways at Corning Country Club contain several different grasses, some of which are inherently prone to various diseases and summer decline. During a stressful summer, the fairways would often become thin and playability would suffer during the busiest time of year. The significant population of Poa annua in the fairways necessitated regular application of plant protectants to prevent damage from insects and disease.
Addressing Salt Issues By Converting To Seashore Paspalum
Hammock Beach Resort — Ocean Course: The Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort had water issues that were negatively impacting its bermudagrass turf. The golf course’s main water supply is recycled water that is held in four holding ponds. This water source is supplemented with brackish water to meet the demands of the turfgrass. The second water issue the course faces is the threat of salt water damage from the adjacent Atlantic Ocean.
Rolling Bunker Faces Saves Time And Improves Playability
Myers Park Country Club: At Myers Park Country Club, raking bunkers daily and firming sand in the faces to maintain the desired playability required a substantial amount of staff time. Following heavy rain events, the bunkers were susceptible to washouts that could require days of repair work involving many staff members.
Hybrid Irrigation Piping Facilitates Off-Season Installation
The Ohio State University Golf Club: Irrigation efficiency and uniformity were ongoing issues for both golf courses at The Ohio State University Golf Club due to an aging irrigation system. Playability and turf health were frequent concerns during prolonged periods of heat and drought because water could not be properly distributed in a reasonable amount of time. Replacing both the pump station and irrigation system was recommended so both golf courses could be properly irrigated.
Sand Channel Drainage Improves Fairway Conditions
Idle Hour Country Club: A lack of fairway slope, soils that drain slowly, and pond levels that are only 6 inches below the playing surface created significant drainage issues on the fourth fairway at Idle Hour Country Club. An average rain event would create saturated conditions that necessitated closing the fairway to cart traffic for an extended period. Improving drainage on the fourth fairway was a priority for Superintendent Clay Stewart.
Zoysiagrass Bunker Faces Improve Playability And Reduce Inputs
Hermitage Country Club: Hermitage Country Club struggled to maintain their Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue bunker faces during the hot summers. The bunker faces required a lot of hand watering and overhead irrigation to keep them healthy, resulting in wet bunker sand and golfer complaints. Maintaining and repairing the bunker faces drew substantial staff time and financial resources away from the rest of the golf course and golfers were dissatisfied with the aesthetics and playability.
Chemical Edging Of Aggregate Cart Paths
Mission Valley Golf And Country Club: Cart path edging is performed at many golf courses to create a distinct border between paths and adjacent turf. A conventional edging process using hand tools and blowers can be extremely time consuming on aggregate cart paths.
Mowing Naturalized Turf To Improve Playability And Reduce Weeds
Omni Bedford Springs Resort: The Omni Bedford Springs Resort features a classic-era golf course designed by Donald Ross. Ross commonly included mounds and hummocks as strategic features in his designs. Weed contamination had greatly reduced playability and aesthetics in the mounding, causing guests to give these areas low marks. Superintendent David Swartzel recognized the need for an improved weed management program.
Battery-Powered Valves Extend Irrigation Coverage
Needham Golf Club: Needham Golf Club is a nine-hole golf facility in Needham, Massachusetts. The golf course has an old irrigation system that did not allow putting greens and their surrounds to be irrigated separately. The inability to irrigate these areas independently often caused turf conditions in the surrounds to deteriorate by midseason.
Preventing Winter Injury
Cutten Fields Golf Club: The soil-based putting greens at Cutten Fields Golf Club have poor surface drainage in numerous areas and relatively high populations of Poa annua. Cultivation efforts have improved internal drainage, but even well-drained soils do not drain when they are frozen. The combination of poor surface drainage, winter shade and high Poa annua populations is a recipe for consistent winter injury on the putting greens.
Implementing A New Triplex Mower Program For Putting Greens
Pinehurst Resort, Course No. 8: Converting the putting greens on Pinehurst No. 8 from bentgrass to ultradwarf bermudagrass required a new surface management program to account for the aggressive growth of ultradwarf bermudagrass during summer.
Flow Sensor Technology Improves Water Quality And Reduces Costs
The Moorings Country Club: The Moorings Country Club utilizes both recycled and onsite lake water for irrigation. The lake water is less costly and has a higher quality than the recycled water but there is a limited supply. Superintendent Dale Walters, CGCS, found that applying a blend of both water sources during dry periods delivered better results at a lower cost than relying exclusively on recycled water.
Converting Electric Rollers To Lithium-Ion Batteries
The Santaluz Club: Electric putting green rollers offer many benefits over gas-powered models. They eliminate the chance of a hydraulic leak and reduce noise. Although lightweight rolling of putting greens is an excellent way to enhance surface smoothness, not all battery-powered rollers are considered lightweight.
Best Management Practices For Water Conservation
Park City Golf Club: The cost and availability of water is one of the biggest challenges facing the game of golf. The municipal Park City Golf Club has plenty of water when winter snow is still melting in the mountains, but the summer months heat up quickly and evapotranspiration rates skyrocket, making water management a challenge.
Stormwater Management Benefits Golf Course And Community
Village Greens Golf Course: The Village Greens Golf Course is an 18-hole, 3,244-yard public golf course that was developed in the 1950s. The golf course’s stormwater infrastructure was unable to handle runoff from the 47-acre golf course and an adjacent 30 acres of homes and roadways that drain through the property. The golf course needed a system that could effectively control and filter stormwater.
Native Grasses Yield Water Savings
Camelback Golf Club: The Ambiente golf course was comprised of approximately 220 acres of irrigated bermudagrass and lined with mature eucalyptus and pine trees. To reduce water use, the renovation plan involved removing many of the mature trees and significantly reducing the irrigated turfgrass acreage. At the same time, it was important that turf reduction areas offered an attractive visual experience for golfers and homeowners.
Pruning Tree Roots Improves Playing Conditions
Edgewood Country Club: When tree roots compete with turfgrass for water and nutrients, they usually win the battle. Tree root competition can cause turf thinning that creates unfavorable playing conditions and erosion issues. Furthermore, surface roots can interfere with golf shots and damage maintenance equipment.
Blogs Provide Effective Communication
The Country Club Of Naples: Effective communication is essential between a golf facility and its superintendent. Golfers are very interested in information about current course conditions, scheduled maintenance practices and any other factors that could affect how the course plays. If golfers do not have a clear channel to receive this information they may be caught by surprise, which can lead to frustration and the spread of inaccurate information.
Wicking For Precision Weed Control
Memphis Country Club: Poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac and other noxious weeds can be a nuisance to golfers and the maintenance staff. The American Medical Association estimated that poison ivy and poison oak cause more cases of contact dermatitis – i.e., blistering, rash and itching – than all other plants and man-made chemicals combined. Once these weeds become established in desirable broadleaf hedges, shrubs or bushes, control can be very difficult and hazardous.
Enhancing Playability With Improved Drainage
Westmoreland Country Club: Westmoreland Country Club, located north of Chicago, is prone to flooding after rain events because of heavy clay soil and a high water table. To make matters worse, the golf course’s main drain line was constructed in the 1960s and is now inefficient and failing. Furthermore, village restrictions required the diameter of the main drain line to be reduced from 18 inches to 12 inches where it exits the property, causing water to back up onto the golf course following heavy rain. Depending on the amount of rain, parts of the course could be flooded for two to three days. The flooding not only disrupts play, it also has the potential to cause serious turf damage.
Buffer Strips Protect And Enhance Water Hazards
Heritage Palms Golf And Country Club: Water hazards create strategic and aesthetic interest and they enhance the environmental value of golf courses. They also can hold and filter stormwater runoff from the course and surrounding community. Filtering runoff before it reaches a water hazard is important because runoff can contain sediments, turf clippings and chemicals that could adversely affect water quality. Heritage Palms wanted to do more to filter runoff and improve water quality at their facility.
Increasing Pollinator Populations By Improving Habitat
Rockland Country Club: Superintendent Matt Ceplo, CGCS, has been promoting and implementing pollinator-friendly areas that save money, reduce resource consumption and provide habitat for native pollinators and other wildlife for many years. When pollinators are mentioned, people often think of honeybees. Although honeybees are great pollinators and produce valuable honey, Matt decided to focus more on promoting bees and butterflies that are native to the area around Rockland Country Club.
New Practice Area Helps Manage Stormwater
NCR Country Club: Since the founding of NCR Country Club in the mid-1950s, stormwater runoff plagued a portion of the North Course and a 6-acre parcel of land located adjacent to the club entrance. These areas would be extremely wet after rain events, causing playability issues and turf problems. Significant changes would be necessary to effectively manage stormwater in these areas.
Improved Water Storage Yields More Consistent Playing Conditions
Wilmington Country Club: Until 2012, Wilmington Country Club relied upon an irrigation reservoir that could hold 12-15 million gallons of water for both of its 18-hole golf courses. The reservoir was recharged by runoff from the surrounding area and by transferring water from an off-site pond when needed. During severe droughts, the recharge sources could not keep pace with water use and there was only enough water to hand water putting greens and tees; fairway and rough irrigation was entirely suspended.
Drainage Project Helps A Golf Course Play Firm And Fast
Wade Hampton Golf Club: Wade Hampton Golf Club is located in a sub-tropical rain forest in the mountains of western North Carolina. The average rainfall in this area is between 80 and 100 inches annually. Heavy clay soils that drain poorly are found throughout the golf course and the original drainage system could not handle the excessive annual rainfall. Even small rain events would require closing the golf course for extended periods of time. In such a wet climate, it was essential to improve the golf course drainage system.
Biological Control Program Saves Hemlock Trees
Grandfather Golf And Country Club: The hemlock tree is one of the most admired and impressive trees in the mountains of North Carolina. Hemlocks are native to the eastern United States and can live for as long as 800 years. In 2001, the maintenance staff noticed a white substance on the hemlocks. A sample was taken to the local extension office for analysis and it was identified as the hemlock woolly adelgid. After additional research, the team learned that if left unchecked this insect pest could kill the hemlocks at the golf course in three to six years.
New Irrigation System Provides Water Savings
The Ford Plantation: The 30-year-old irrigation system at The Ford Plantation was past its useful life. As a result, the golf course management staff was constantly repairing irrigation breakages, sometimes as many as four in a single week. Deferred irrigation maintenance had finally hit a point of no return.
Fairway Conversion From Bermudagrass To Zoysiagrass
Atlanta Athletic Club – Riverside Course: Atlanta Athletic Club is located in the transition zone, with hot summers and cool winters. Finding a turf species that performs well across this range of conditions is extremely difficult. A renovation project provided an opportunity to convert the fairways to a turf variety that would provide high-quality playing conditions with less fertilizer, herbicides, mowing and irrigation.
Mowing Greens With Triplexes Instead Of Walk-Behind Mowers
Rocky River Golf Club: Rocky River Golf Club is a busy public golf facility. Superintendent Joel White and the management team realized that their program of walk mowing creeping bentgrass putting greens was not sustainable. The process was time consuming and drew scarce labor resources away from the rest of the golf course.
The Benefits Of Pruning Tree Roots
The Peninsula Club: Tree roots had become an issue at The Peninsula Club. They were growing into playing surfaces and causing turf decline because tree roots outcompete turf roots for water and nutrients. Additionally, surface roots caused poor playability, created risk of golfer injury and posed a threat to maintenance equipment. Furthermore, tree roots were causing significant damage to the facility’s concrete cart paths.
Using Turf Colorants Instead Of Overseeding
Brunswick Plantation And Golf Resort: Maintaining a resort golf course in the transition zone can be challenging. At Brunswick Plantation and Golf Resort, one of the major challenges was managing the transitions into and out of winter overseeding. The result was very poor fairway playing quality during some of the best golfing weather.
Converting Bentgrass Putting Greens To Diamond Zoysiagrass
The Walker Golf Course at Clemson University: The Walker Golf Course at Clemson University had 20-year-old creeping bentgrass putting greens with an excessive thatch layer and significant contamination from bermudagrass and Poa annua. The Walker Course needed putting greens that could tolerate hot, humid weather and shade.
Modifying Root Zone Depth To Improve Putting Green Playability
The Club At Ravenna: Many of the putting greens at The Club at Ravenna were originally built with severe slopes that rendered large areas unusable for hole locations. A three-dimensional contour map indicated that some putting greens only had 20 percent of the surface available for fair hole locations. The putting green contours would have to be adjusted to achieve the desired playability.
Improved Water Storage And Efficient Irrigation
Crystal Downs Country Club: The maintenance department at Crystal Downs Country Club aims to provide players with a firm and fast golf course. However, their ability to do so was limited by their aging irrigation system. The pump station was inefficient and had antiquated, unserviceable controls. This resulted in unacceptable system pressure, flow and sprinkler performance. In addition, the central control system did not allow for individual head control or station-based programming. This made it almost impossible to irrigate with the precision necessary to provide consistently firm and fast conditions. Improving the water source for the irrigation system and upgrading the central control system would help address these issues.
Well And Storage System Decreases Potable Water User
Bel-Air Country Club: Severe drought and mandatory water use restrictions have occurred in many parts of the country. Some golf facilities have developed wells to reduce their reliance upon public water sources to cope with this issue. In Los Angeles, Bel- Air Country Club has been irrigating primarily with well water for several years. However, due to topographical challenges they could not use their well to irrigate a six-hole portion of the golf course. A new well was drilled and developed on that portion of the course, but it would only yield 20 gallons per minute (GPM). They needed an efficient and economical way to store this small, but valuable amount of water and pump it into the irrigation system.
Rain Garden Filters Runoff
Village Greens Golf Course: The Village Greens Golf Course is an 18-hole, 3,244-yard public golf course that is owned and operated by Kitsap County. The small property is surrounded by housing, with an elementary school directly across the street from their clubhouse and parking lot. Research has shown that parking lot runoff can introduce contaminants into water bodies, so the county wanted to find a low-cost way to filter the stormwater runoff from the golf course parking lot. They also hoped to educate golfers and the nearby elementary school children about the environmental risks that parking lots can create.
New Forward Tees Improve The Golf Experience
Eugene Country Club: Eugene Country Club was facing a problem that confronts many golf courses; the course yardage from the forward tees – 5,619 yards – was simply too long for many players. As a result, pace of play was slowing because many golfers playing the forward tees found the course too long for their ability. Something needed to be done to improve pace of play and make the course more enjoyable for golfers of all skill levels.
Using Recycled Water For Irrigation
Ivanhoe Club: Ivanhoe Club is a 27-hole golf facility located in a housing community outside of Chicago. As part of the original development plan, the golf course uses the community’s residential wastewater as its primary irrigation source. The recycled water is naturally high in bicarbonates and salts, both of which can be damaging to turf in high concentrations.
Leveling Sprinkler Heads Conserves Water And Improves Playing Quality
Country Club of Detroit: As an irrigation system ages, distribution uniformity can decline as nozzles wear and sprinkler heads become uneven with the surrounding turf. The Country Club of Detroit had numerous sprinkler heads that were low or tilted and Superintendent Ross Miller, CGCS, recognized that irrigation system performance was being negatively affected.
To Bee Or Not To Bee?
Royal Colwood Golf Club: During the spring of 2015, a wild bee population took a liking to the flagstick on one of the practice greens at Royal Colwood Golf Club. When players reported a large population of bees on the flagstick, the practice green and an adjacent hole were immediately closed. After a careful inspection by General Manager Philip Nurse, it was determined that the honey bees were looking for a hive location and a local bee master was contacted for assistance. The bee master suggested that rather than removing the hive, it would be better to simply find another location on the property for the bees to live.
Naturalizing Areas Helps Maximize A Limited Water Supply
Cape Cod National Golf Club: Cape Cod National Golf Club is an 18-hole golf course located in Brewster, Massachusetts. The daily water allocation permit allows the golf course to pump 100,000 gallons of groundwater per day. However, the combination of sandy native soil, 40 acres of fairway turf and large maintained rough areas meant that the irrigation requirements at Cape Cod National often exceeded the daily water allocation during extended periods of summer drought.
Using Covers To Help Protect Against Winter Injury
Ekwanok Country Club: During the harsh winter of 2013-2014, Ekwanok Country Club lost close to 90 percent of its Poa annua and creeping bentgrass putting green turf to cold temperature injury. Due to the short growing and playing season at Ekwanok, the recovery process from this loss affected a significant portion of the golf season. Based on the severity of turf loss and the course’s history of cold temperature injury, the superintendent at the time, Ted Maddocks, decided to investigate using a cover system to protect the greens during winter.
Using Goats To Control Difficult Weeds
Cohasset Golf Club: Cohasset Golf Club is a Donald Ross design with holes weaving through the rocky coastal terrain south of Boston, Massachusetts. Extensive tree work at the course has opened up woodland areas, improved turf growing conditions and exposed natural rock outcroppings. Fine fescue and other native grasses were planted in many of these areas to recapture the original look of the golf course. Superintendent Glen Misiaszek, CGCS, soon realized that it would be challenging to control briars, thistle, poison ivy and other woody and herbaceous plants in the new native areas and along woodland edges.
Turning Wood Into Heat
Black Hall Club: Black Hall Club is a parkland golf course with an abundance of trees. A tree management plan has been initiated to improve turf conditions, restore playing corridors and improve the overall condition of the tree plantings. This program generates a significant amount of wood each season and one challenge has been finding ways to remove the excess.
New Mowing Patterns Improve Playing Conditions
Rolling Rock Club: The weakest turf on fairways is often found in the transition zone between the fairway and approach. This is a result of fairway and approach mowers turning in the same area. On northern courses, Poa annua and perennial ryegrass often dominate this high-traffic area because they are more tolerant of wear than creeping bentgrass. Unfortunately, Poa annua and perennial ryegrass are more vulnerable to stress and turfgrass diseases than bentgrass.
Tree Management To Protect Renovated Cart Paths
Pine Lake Country Club: The cart paths at Pine Lake Country Club were in a state of disrepair due to age and tree root disruption. The situation had reached a point where the club felt that their ability to recruit and retain members was being compromised by the condition of the cart paths.
Using Goats For Vegetation Control
Whippoorwill Club: To protect water quality in the ponds at Whippoorwill Club, Superintendent Paul Gonzalez, CGCS, maintains a buffer strip of native vegetation around each pond. This buffer filters runoff before it reaches the pond, helping to remove sediment, turf clippings and chemicals. Unfortunately, the buffer areas at Whippoorwill are located on steep terrain that makes maintenance difficult.
Eliminating Golf Course Accessories Saves Time And Money
Westchester Country Club - West Course: Many golf courses have accessories such as ball washers, benches, trash receptacles, divot mix containers, and tee caddies located throughout the golf course. These items are intended to be conveniences, but they are also expensive to purchase and time consuming and costly to maintain.
Solving Animal Issues Through Habitat Management
Century Country Club: Century Country Club had an ongoing issue with voles. During the winter, the rodents would burrow into the steep bunker banks and cause considerable damage. They created tunnels that weakened the integrity of the bunker faces and caused erosion. They also chewed grass plants down to the crown and created trails. Their tunneling caused bunker faces to slough and collapse, and their trails were unsightly and created playability issues.
Using Fish To Control Algae
Barrington Golf Club: Every year, superintendents around the country struggle to control algae blooms that develop in golf course water features. Barrington Golf Club in Aurora, Ohio, was not immune to this problem. Dealing with algae outbreaks in their 13 ponds was a challenge.
Leveling Irrigation Heads Improves Playing Conditions
Pelham Country Club: Pelham Country Club has been topdressing fairways for over 20 years in an effort to provide firm and fast conditions. The benefits of the fairway topdressing program have been fantastic, the course plays much firmer and there are fewer cart restrictions after a rain event. However, years of adding sand left many sprinkler heads 3-4 inches below the surface. Irrigation uniformity was noticeably reduced, making it challenging to irrigate without creating wet and dry areas. Low sprinkler heads were also causing issues with mowing quality around the depressed sprinklers.
The Benefits Of Enhanced Playability
The Club At Ravenna: Playability was an issue for The Club at Ravenna due to the mountainous terrain, narrow playing corridors, excessive bunkering and severely undulating putting surfaces. The golf course also had numerous bunkers located in areas that penalized higher-handicap golfers. The course was described as intimidating and difficult by both prospective members and guests, a reputation that became an impediment to gaining new club members. The bunkers were also difficult and expensive to maintain on a regular basis.
An Improved Equipment Wash Area
Stonebridge Country Club: Turf clippings are a byproduct of all golf course maintenance operations. Most clippings are recycled back into the turf canopy during mowing or collected in baskets attached to mowers. However, some clippings remain on the mowers and must be washed off before the equipment is stored. Clippings contain trace amounts of nitrogen and other nutrients that can be beneficial to turf health if recycled, but potentially harmful to waterways if wash water is not filtered before it enters local sewers or drain fields.
Cupless Flagsticks On Practice Putting Greens
Palm Aire Country Club: Practice putting greens receive considerable golfer traffic, especially during peak playing seasons. Ideally, holes on a practice green would be changed daily or every other day to disperse traffic and maintain good turf quality. However, this may not be practical for facilities with limited budgets or small practice greens.
Using Controlled Burning To Manage Naturalized Areas
Wyncote Golf Club: Wyncote Golf Club is a public golf facility located in the rolling hills of southeastern Pennsylvania. The golf course is cut out of farmland, using natural terrain to add to the intrigue and beauty of the property. Wyncote also features over 60 acres of naturalized areas. Maintaining playable conditions and managing weeds over such a massive acreage proved costly, time consuming and difficult. Consequently, many of the naturalized areas became overrun with weeds, reducing their playability and aesthetic appeal. Lost balls were common and unhappy golfers wrote negative online reviews.
Monitoring Organic Matter With Physical Soil Testing
Oglebay Resort - Jones Course: On the Jones Course at Oglebay Resort, excessive organic matter had accumulated in the putting green root zones. As a result, the greens experienced frequent disease outbreaks and required regular fungicide applications to minimize turf loss. Additionally, golfers did not like the poor playing conditions and abundant ball marks created by the excess organic matter.
A New Irrigation System Improves Playing Conditions
Rockland Country Club: The precision and effectiveness of golf course irrigation is heavily influenced by the irrigation system itself. With an irrigation system that was more than 25 years old, watering capabilities were limited at Rockland Country Club. The aging and antiquated system had poor uniformity and was unable to irrigate the rough areas. Poor coverage, uniformity issues and the lack of individual head control made irrigation very challenging. Due to the system’s limitations, Superintendent Matt Ceplo, CGCS, was forced to program the irrigation to minimize the creation of wet areas. Unfortunately, programming to avoid wet areas often meant creating extremely dry areas that would go dormant and turn brown during summer. Dry, brown turf can provide excellent playing conditions, but cart traffic can seriously damage dry or dormant turf. A few brown spots are tolerable, but dead grass in tire tracks is not.
Using Salt-Tolerant Grass To Manage Tidal Flooding
Ocean City Golf Club: Tidal flooding is a regular issue at many coastal golf courses and the Newport Bay Golf Course at Ocean City Golf Club is no exception. Normal tides do not flood the course, but storm tides and surges frequently flooded fairway and rough areas on the 13th hole. In spite of Superintendent Mike Salvio’s best efforts to establish different cool- and warm-season turfgrasses in the flood-prone areas, salt in the brackish water from the Newport Bay continually killed the grass.
Plant Protectant Check Plots
Edgewood Country Club: Determining the efficacy of fertilizers, surfactants and plant protectants on a golf course can be difficult. Academic research relies on numerous small test plots to compare rates, timings, formulations and other variables. This method produces excellent results, but it also requires specialized equipment and lots of time and patience. At most golf courses, such an elaborate testing process simply isn’t practical.
Naturalizing Areas To Reduce Inputs And Enhance Habitat
Burlingame Country Club: In 2007, Burlingame Country Club was forced to make operational budget cuts that included reducing the size of the golf course maintenance staff. To maintain the same playing conditions with fewer staff, Superintendent Buddy Snowden realized that he needed to reduce the amount of highly maintained turf on the golf course. By not grooming certain out-of-play areas he could save money on equipment, labor, irrigation and chemical costs. Maintaining these areas less intensively would also allow more resources to be focused on the primary playing areas down the middle of the golf course.
Converting Maintained Turf To Native Grasses
Charlotte Country Club: Charlotte Country Club was designed by the famous golf course architect Donald Ross and opened for play in 1910. Faced with increasing maintenance costs, the club wanted to reduce the total acreage of highly maintained turfgrass. Converting some areas to native grasses would reduce inputs and water use. It would also allow the maintenance staff to focus their time on the primary playing areas. After consulting with the golf course architect that had successfully restored the golf course, approximately 15 acres of out-of-play areas were identified for conversion.
Reducing Inputs By Converting Turf To Native Grasses
Rivermont Golf Club: Budget reductions at Rivermont Country Club placed a strain on the golf course maintenance operation. Superintendent Mark Hoban recognized that they could not afford the same amount of highly maintained turf with the reduced maintenance budget. Labor and other inputs had to be focused down the middle of the golf course, with fewer resources dedicated to maintaining out-of-play areas.
Drip Irrigation Improves Water Management
Shadow Creek: Shadow Creek golf course in North Las Vegas, Nevada, features 100 acres of naturalized areas comprised of tall grasses and more than 6,000 planted pine trees. The irrigation system in these naturalized areas consisted of full-circle sprinklers spaced approximately 65 feet apart. This design offered relatively uniform coverage, but it did not allow the maintenance staff to water grasses and trees according to their specific water requirements.
Creek Restoration To Reduce Erosion And Preserve Habitats
St. Thomas Golf And Country Club: St. Thomas Golf and Country Club was designed by famed Canadian golf course architect Stanley Thompson. The course layout winds through exceptional terrain with Beaver Creek running through a portion of the property. Over time, creek bank erosion became a pronounced issue and course officials knew they had to take action to protect wildlife habitat and local water quality.
Rebuilding Greens To Improve Playability And Address Water Issues
Islington Golf Club: Islington Golf Club, like many older courses, had the challenge of trying to meet golfer expectations for modern playing conditions on putting greens that were over 90 years old. During the winter of 2014, significant ice damage occurred on all of the putting greens except the 11th. Club officials realized that with 17 of 18 putting greens severely damaged by winter injury, 2014 was going to be a tough year no matter what was done to repair the damage.
Even New Courses Need To Address Water Use Issues
The Stock Farm: The Stock Farm Club opened in 1999 to great reviews, thanks in part to its magnificent setting and superb conditioning. Since its opening, the club has been committed to responsible water use. However, water use remains a serious concern in the western United States and The Stock Farm Club was looking for further opportunities to save water.
Managing Low-Quality Irrigation Water
Kings Links By The Sea: Kings Links by the Sea, located south of Vancouver, British Columbia, was designed and built to use a non-potable water source. They draw irrigation water from a canal system that services local farms. However, the water does have moderate bicarbonate levels. This can create turf issues if bicarbonates are allowed to accumulate in the soil.
Utilizing Mist Heads For Precision Irrigation
Pikewood National Golf Club: Pikewood National Golf Club is a relatively new private club, located in the mountains of West Virginia. One of the challenges that arose is watering the bluegrass walkways that pass through the fescue areas. The maintenance department was hand watering the walkways to ensure precise irrigation, but this system proved to be very labor intensive and expensive.
Using Colorant Instead Of Overseeding Fairways
Country Club of Landfall: The volume of play at the Country Club of Landfall slows—but does not cease—during the winter months. As the bermudagrass goes dormant, the tees, fairways, approaches and collars lose their definition. The club wanted to give these important playing areas better definition during the winter golf season without the resource inputs and turfgrass competition associated with overseeding.
Cutting Costs By Using Recycled Mulch Instead Of Pine Straw
Palmira Golf And Country Club: Trees and shrubs on golf courses are often surrounded with mulch to reduce maintenance, preserve soil moisture, discourage mechanical damage from trim mowers and improve aesthetics. Finely shredded mulches and pine straw are visually appealing but are quite costly. Palmira Golf and Country Club was spending over $100,000 annually to place pine straw around trees and shrubs throughout the 27-hole facility.
Installing Solar Panels To Reduce Energy Costs
Hidden Creek Golf Club: The cost of energy was increasing at Hidden Creek Golf Club. Annual energy consumption costs had risen to approximately $130,000 for 630,000 kilowatt-hours and the local utility company could increase these charges without notice. In 2010, David Goddard , president and CEO of Ole Hansen and Sons, Inc., saw an opportunity to benefit the club and the environment by installing solar panels.
Two Wrongs Make A Right To Eliminate Potable Water Usage
Bell Nob Golf Course: The Bell Nob Golf Course is a municipal course located in Gillette, Wyoming. Although antelope still roam the property as part of the vast plains around the course, the human population in the area has increased significantly during the past two decades. The expanding city was reaching the limits of its water supply and began raising water ratesto help curb usage and promote conservation. Rates were raised to a level that would have required the golf course to spend over $350,000 on water in 2011. Irrigating with potable water was no longer economically sustainable, the golf course needed to develop an alternative.
Establishing Warm-Season Grasses To Improve Playability And Drought Tolerance
Virginia Country Club: Virginia Country Club had a mixed stand of warm and cool-season grasses that created inconsistent playing conditions in the fairways and roughs. In addition, extra irrigation was required during summer months to keep the cool-season grasses alive. This created wet and soft playing conditions in portions of the golf course.
Native Grasses Help Save Water
Lonnie Poole Golf Course: Protecting and conserving natural resources is one of the most significant challenges facing the game of golf. With that in mind, the Lonnie Poole Golf Course at North Carolina State University was designed to fit into the natural environment and be a sustainable component of the campus. Warm- and cool-season native grass plantings were included in the design to help save water, demonstrate environmental responsibility, and act as important golf course features.
Equipment Wash Water Recycling
Maple Leaf Golf and Country Club: Washing clippings and dirt off mowers and other golf course equipment is a part of daily golf course maintenance and requires the use of hundreds of gallons of water. The wastewater generated from washing equipment carries clippings and other organic debris that could eventually reach natural water bodies, increasing the nitrogen content of downstream waters and encouraging algae blooms. Equipment washing areas also tend to emit the foul odor of decaying clippings.
Naturalizing Rough Areas With Wildflowers
Gator Creek Golf Club: Environmental responsibility is an important goal at golf facilities. Many golf course superintendents already strive to maintain turf in a way that protects and improves the environment, but the search continues for new ways to improve the golf experience while remaining economically and environmentally sustainable. At Gator Creek Golf Club in Sarasota, Florida, converting turfgrass areas to wildflowers is one way the club is trying to tie all of these goals together.
Using Solar Panels to Power the Maintenance Facility
Candler Hills Golf Club: Increasing energy costs were adding to the annual expenses at Candler Hills Golf Club. The club began looking into alternative energy sources in an effort to reduce costs. One idea was installing solar panels to power the maintenance facility.
The Benefits of Wetting Agents and Effective Communication
Quilchena Golf and Country Club: Like many golf courses in the Pacific Northwest, Quilchena Golf and Country Club had major issues with wet conditions during the winter and spring. To improve this situation, the golf course maintenance department has been topdressing the fairways for over two decades. The accumulation of 6-7 inches of sand topdressing greatly improved playing conditions during the wetter months, but it also caused issues.
Sometimes Simple Is The Best Answer For Water Use
Jamestown Country Club: The 2014 U.S. Men’s and Women’s Opens at Pinehurst Number 2 gave golfers in the United States an opportunity to consider whether golf courses really need to be wall-to-wall green. As the cost of water, fertilizer and labor continues to rise, maintaining wall-to-wall green conditions becomes increasingly unsustainable.
Red Clay Creek Restoration
Kennett Square Golf and Country Club: Kennett Square Golf and Country Club is located in the northern portion of the Red Clay Creek watershed and a section of Red Clay Creek runs through the golf course. Unfortunately, during flood events, the portion of the creek flowing through the golf course began eroding the creek banks. This erosion jeopardized the 13th green, 14th tee and parts of the irrigation system.
Rain Gardens: Utilizing Nature’s Filtration Systems
Kennett Square Golf and Country Club: Many golf courses live with a horrible, season-long odor near the wash pad that permeates the air with the smell of rotting grass clippings. Not only is this situation unpleasant, it can also create environmental issues if the wash pad is built incorrectly and allows grass clippings to flow into local streams and lakes.
Deep Fairway Aeration For Improved Water Infiltration
White Cliffs Country Club: White Cliffs Country Club is an 18-hole, executive golf course located above the shores of Cape Cod Bay in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The fairways were built from native soil and developed problems related to soil compaction.
Operation Pollinator: Improving Golf Course Habitat For Pollinating Insects
Stone Mountain Golf Club: Declining pollinator populations in the United States, and around the world, is cause for serious concern. Some view golf courses as part of the problem, but there are actually many ways that golf courses can help support and grow pollinator populations.
Saving Money By Converting To A Non-Potable Water Source
The Everglades Club: The Everglades Club in Palm Beach, Florida, faced rising costs for purchasing potable water from the City of West Palm Beach for golf course irrigation. Unfortunately, because the club is located on a barrier island, an alternate source of clean irrigation water was not available.
Adjusting Course Conditions To Complement A Restoration
Waverley Country Club: Waverley Country Club was built on the shores of the Willamette River in 1898 and the club places great value on the long history and classic design of their course. However, architectural modifications and tree planting had changed the course considerably over the years.
Using Wetting Agents To Save Water And Improve Turf Conditions
Seymour Golf and Country Club: With over 100 inches of annual rainfall, Seymour Golf and Country Club would not normally be a golf course facing water issues. However, the fairway topdressing program designed to improve playing conditions during the wetter months had unintended consequences during dry months.
Changing Grasses Can Be The Best Answer For Water Woes
Mauna Lani Resort Golf Courses: The two courses at Mauna Lani were planted with various types of bermudagrass on all of the playing surfaces. However, everything changed after an invader named seashore paspalum gained a foothold because the irrigation water was high in salts.
On-Course Apiary Supports Pollinators And Helps Evaluate Management Practices
Kennett Square Golf and Country Club: Honey bee populations are in decline throughout the United States and around the world. Many view golf courses, and the products used to maintain them, as significant contributors to the decline of pollinator populations. However, golf courses can provide valuable habitat for supporting beneficial pollinators like bees.
Native Plants Provide An Attractive Alternative
Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club: Water is hard to come by at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club in Southern California. Well water is high in salts, reclaimed water infrastructure is miles away and the cost continues to rise. In addition, the state instituted a mandatory 25-percent overall water reduction in response to a prolonged drought. In the context, continuing to irrigate out-of-play areas at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club no longer made economic or environmental sense.
Using Captured Rainfall For Golf Course Irrigation
Druids Glen Golf Course: There is no question that water use is one of the most pressing issues facing the golf course industry. With many areas of the country dealing with drought conditions, using water to irrigate golf courses can be looked upon with concern. However, what if golf courses began capturing rainfall for their irrigation needs?
Root Zone Modification And Drainage Installation Improve Soft Putting Greens
Montclair Golf Club: The putting greens at Montclair Golf Club were built in the 1920s, and while a few were rebuilt over the years, most were the original soil-based greens. These drained very poorly and had become increasingly unreliable and difficult to manage.
Restoring Lake Banks Reduces Labor Costs
Peridia Golf And Country Club: Erosion of the lake banks at Peridia Golf and Country Club was causing issues for both golf and maintenance. The erosion created steep drop offs that were difficult to maintain and made it difficult to retrieve balls from along lake edges.
Irrigation Pond Restoration
Spring Brook Country Club: Armstrong Pond encompasses approximately seven acres at Spring Brook Country Club. It is prominently located between several golf holes and forms the centerpiece of a terrific vista from the clubhouse. The pond is also used to collect and store irrigation water.
Silt Removal And Pump Station Design: Two Keys To Improving Water Quality And Protecting Irrigation Assets
Stone Mountain Golf Club: The Stone Mountain Golf Club is a 36-hole facility managed by Marriott Golf located 16 miles from Atlanta, Ga. The property endured record drought and heat in 2007 and 2008 then experienced a historic flood in September 2009. The existing irrigation system pump stations were flooded, and the original pump intakes were covered in over 4 feet of silt—causing serious problems with irrigation water quality and pump efficiency.
Saucon Valley Country Club: Streams are critical components of the environment that form important ecosystems and can serve as vital water sources for communities. Steams on golf courses often provide water for irrigation and function as strategic hazards that add beauty and interest. Saucon Creek—classified as a cold-water fishery that supplies the area with a large a large population of wild brown trout—run 2.3 miles through Saucon Valley Country Club, affecting as many as 60 golf holes. After several years of unusually severe erosion, many of the creek's banks were significantly degraded, compromising the integrity of the stream and reducing its benefit to wildlife.
No-Till Establishment Of Bermudagrass To Improve Year-Round Playing Quality And Reduce Water And Pesticide Use
Moss Creek Plantation: The fairways on the south course at Moss Creek Plantation did not provide an acceptable playing surface due to the presence of many different types of bermudagrass including common bermudagrass, seeded varieties and Tifway. The course needed a uniform, affordable fairway grass.
Irrigating With Effluent And Brackish Water
Hammock Bay Golf and Country Club: Drinking water is in great deman. Discovering alternative water sources for irrigation has been an important focus in Florida for many years. For several decades many Florida golf facilities have been using treated wastewater, of effluent water, for irrigation. In fact, water treatment facilities initially supplied golf courses with effluent water, which otherwise was discharged into local streams, free of charge. However, there is such a great demand for recycled water in Naples, Fla. that the municipality now charges $1.79 per 1,000 gallons of recycled water. With the cost of water rising, golf courses are motivated to consider other sources of irrigation water including brackish water, which has high salt levels that bermudagrass does not tolerate.
Switching From Conventional Overseeding To Pigment/Liquid Nutrient Programs
Candler Hills Golf Club: The growth of bermudagrass considerably decreases as temperatures drop during fall and winter. Winter is the peak play season for many southern courses, and many seasonal golfers expect lush, green playing surfaces. Historically, many golf courses overseeded formant bermudagrass with a cool-season grass to improve winter color and definition. Overseeding is a costly practice, both financially and agronomically, and can cause considerable turf decline as the overseeding transitions each spring.
Drought-Tolerant Grasses In Rough
Carolina Golf Club: Carolina Golf Club underwent a four-phase, master-plan renovation that began in May 2005 and concluded in fall 2008. The renovation included establishing nearly 20 acres of fine-leaf fescues—chewing's fescue, sheep fescue and hard fescue—from seed to create expansive natural and native areas. The fine fescue areas were intended to be low maintenance—i.e., require less water and mowing—and were a core aesthetic component of the archetect's vision for the remodeled golf course.
Zero-Waste Kitchen Contributes to Golf Maintenance Operation
Musket Ridge Golf Club: In 2013, Americans discarded over 254 million tons of municipal solid waste, 28 percent of which originated from food and lawn waste. Musket Ridge Golf Club wanted to reduce the amount of solid waste members and guests produce by recycling food scraps and landscape waste back into the golf course as compost. In addition to doing their part to become better environmental stewards, the increasing cost of waste removal and purchasing compost influenced golf course officals to think of new ways of managing their waste production.
Paradise Valley Aims To Be A Responsible Desert Citizen
Paradise Valley Country Club: Paradise Valley Country Club, northeast of Phoenix, Ariz., is anything but a typical desert golf course. It's a true innovator in water conservation practices, thanks to a forward-thinking membership and the hard work of superintendent Rob Collins and his staff.
Tree Removal Improves Turfgrass Health, Performance, and Playing Quality
St. Thomas Golf and Country Club: The turf at St. Thomas Golf and Country Club performed poorly for a number of years. The problem was caused by the extensive shade and lack of air circulation around many of the greens, tees and fairways. A tree planting plan was initiated at St. Thomas in the 1960s and 1970s and as the trees matured, the growing environments gradually deteriorated. The poor growing environments resulted in weaker turf, increased disease pressure and higher populations of Poa annua. St. Thomas also had a very small, closed-in, claustrophobic feel, and the extensive tree and brush plantings created a host of playability problems. The problems were so extensive that the solution required a mulit-faceted approach.
Regrassing Greens To Creeping Bentgrass
Shaker Ridge Country Club: Shaker Ridge Country Club is an 18-hole golf facility located near Albany, New York. The golf course was designed in 1929 by James Thompson and receives approximately 28,000 rounds of golf annually. The size of the original push-up-style, soil greens averages approximately 4,500 square feet. The greens had been modified with sand down to a 3- to 4-inch depth and drainage had been installed in several of the greens. The putting green turf was predominately annual bluegrass and older varieties of creeping bentgrass. The annual bluegrass of the greens became less dependable in summer due to historically high populations of stunt nematodes. Also, the annual bluegrass greens were susceptible to cold-temperature injury and, even though increased resources like fertilizer and water were used, the surfaces did not meet golfer expectations on a consistent basis.
Wastewater Water Use At Hershey's Mill Golf Club
Hershey's Mill Golf Club: Concieved in the 1970s, Hershey's Mill is a golf course community surrounding a championship golf course. The developer realized there was one major hurdle; the township's water treatment facility was unable to handle the volume of treated wastewater generated by the increased amount of sewage from the new community.
Using Cold-Tolerant Bermudagrass For A Northern Region Practice Range
Fishers Island Golf Club: Fishers Island Golf Club recieves most of its play during the summer months. Its practice facility is located in an environmentally sensitive site abutting the island's drinking-water wells and a seed oyster nursery. Therefore, the practice range is maintained without any traditional pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Attempts to maintain cool-season turf accross the practice range were unsuccessful due to crabgrass encroachment and disease pressure.
Irrigation: Better Precision With More Irrigation Heads
Chevy Chase Club: Chevy Chase Club has perennial ryegrass and tall fescue roughs adjacent to creeping bentgrass fairways. The water requirement of the rough is significantly different from the water requriement of the low-cut fairways. Additionally, disease pressure during summer is greater on the perennial ryegrass than on the creeping bentgrass. Unless the different grasses are managed based on their specific needs, the possibility for turf decline increases.
Sustainability Case Study
The Moorings Yacht and Country Club: Craig Weyandt, superintendent at the Moorings Yacht & Country Club here, likes to talk about "pushing the environmental envelope" to improve the golf course. That includes creating a more visually appealing atmosphere for members while staying focused on the plantings, including how and where they grow.
Using Solar Panels to Reduce Power Consumption
Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club: The golfers at Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club appreciate the environment and want to make a difference by reducing their carbon footprint. Located near the Indian River Bay and its surrounding low-lying marsh wetlands, both staff and golfers have embraced local wildlife and desire to limit their environmental footprint. Golf Course Superintendent Glen MacDonald is mindful of their proximity to vital wetlands and believes strongly in preserving the local environment.
Using Cultivation to Reduce Irrigation Use on Fairways
Spring Creek Ranch: Spring Creek Ranch was constructed with sand capped fairways and planted with Meyer zoysiagrass. Over the years, excessive thatch accumulation in the fairways made it difficult to get water to flow through the zoysiagrass and into the sandy soil. As a result, the turf stayed undesirably wet with minimal ball roll, but the soil was abnormally dry. Coupled with the shallow root system of Meyer zoysiagrass, this made the fairways prone to rapid wilt and frequent irrigation was necessary.
Using Moisture Probes to Reduce Water Use
Candler Hills Golf Club: Candler Hills recently switched their irrigation water source from groundwater to treated, recycled water. The goal after changing water sources was to reduce the amount of water applied, thereby reducing the cost to purchase recycled water.
Reusing Landscape Debris by Mulching
Country Club of Naples: The on-going maintenance of trees and landscape plants at a golf facility can produce considerable amounts of debris. Collecting and hauling landscape debris off-site to a landfill is expensive and time consuming. Therefore, The Country Club of Naples sought a method to reuse landscape debris on-site.
Converting Turf Species to Improve Divot Recovery and Reduce Water and Pesticide Use
Laurel Creek Country Club: Laurel Creek Country Club has a wonderful practice facility that is available for unlimited use. Upper and lower teeing ground are used throughout the season, the lower teeing ground receiving heavy use from junior clinics. Cool-season grasses planted on the practice teeing grounds struggle to recover fast enough from the amount of divots created during hot, summer months.
Using Soil Moisture Meters to Improve Playing Conditions and Conserve Water
Ridgewood Country Club: Ridgewood Country Club is a historic golf course that strives to produce excellent playing conditions. One of the most challenging aspects of managing the putting greens at Ridgewood is accurately determining how much water is needed each day to keep the turf healthy and the surfaces firm.
Irrigation Redesign to Conserve Water
Pinehurst No. 2: Pinehurst No.2, many felt, had lost much of the original characteristics that made it one of the classical, early to mid-1900sDonald Ross designs. The golf course had evolved to be too much like countless other courses in the post WWII era. The addition of turf and expanded irrigation eliminated many unique characteristics and strategic elements of the course.
Bunker Raking to Reduce Labor and Washouts
Pinehurst No. 2: During the restoration project at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2010 the appearance of the bunkers was intimately addressed. Every bunker was reshaped and carefully sculpted to fit the reclaimed sand and wiregrass areas that now surround many of the bunkers. Bunkers filled with bright, white sand and fan raked daily would have created an unnatural fit with the restoration of Pinehurst No. 2.
Moisture and Salinity Monitoring Through In-Ground Sensors
Prestwick Country Club: Monitoring soil moisture levels throughout the golf course to help make informed irrigation decisions is important at Prestwick. In the past, we did not have an accurate method to monitorcurrent soil moisture levels. Furthermore, there was no effective, efficient way to monitor soil moisture in all of the different microclimates on the course.