Now is the time to prepare for the impending water crisis in the golf industry – if it hasn’t already hit your golf course. If you haven’t thought about the water crisis at your golf course, you should.Now.
I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist. In fact, you may be wondering what I’m talking about if your golf course is in a region where there’s ample water to go around. But that will change.
The water crisis is already affecting the Southwest, especially California and Texas, where golf courses have already been cutting back. The experts say it’s only a matter of time before water availability is a problem almost everywhere.
The price of water will continue to escalate, putting even more pressure on your already-stretched maintenance budget. If your course is getting free water, your days are numbered. Do you have a plan for the day you start getting charged for that water?
Even though water is getting more expensive, this isn’t about money. As Jim Moore of the United States Golf Association (USGA) told me, this is a problem that can’t be solved by throwing money at it. If there’s no water to go around, even golf courses with deep pockets won’t be able to buy more.
The golf industry can survive with less water. The industry has already found ways to cope with the shortage. Yes, courses may have to become a little more brown – I know a lot of superintendents hate that word – but it’s something that will have to happen. Superintendents will have to find the fine line between dormant and dead turf, which they have the knowledge to discover.
Knowledge, in fact, is the industry’s best defense against the water crisis. Superintendents will have to learn more about their turf and its irrigation requirements as well as the golfers’ expectations for that turf. Of the latter, I’ve talked to superintendents over the years who have reduced water use on certain areas of the course and didn’t hear a peep about it.
The industry’s manufacturers of water-efficient equipment and products have already developed technology – from sprinkler heads to surfactants to soil sensors to soil amendments with improved water-holding capacity – to help superintendents save water. There’s no doubt that even better technology is coming.
This is a problem the industry needs to get in front of. The golf courses that are taking action now and reinventing their irrigation plans should be safe. The ones that aren’t will someday wish they had acted sooner.
We hope the information contained in our fourth-annual Golf & Water supplement helps you get in front of the problem.