The situation

A plan for renovation of the Ole Miss Golf Course in Oxford, Mississippi (owned by the University of Mississippi) called for more efficient irrigation solutions. The source for irrigation was a small pond located on top of a hill fed only by a well, requiring nearly non-stop operation of a pump to draw water from it.

The approach

Nathan Crace

The nearby Oxford Airport and six of the 18 holes of the golf course at Ole Miss were found to drain more than 100 acres of watershed runoff through a large ditch crossing the 4th fairway and through a culvert under the adjacent roadway with no detention capability. The hilltop irrigation pond measured only a quarter acre and didn’t have any source of water other than what was pumped from the well. The renovation plan looked for ways to redesign the course to allow runoff to be captured from the course and the airport, moving the irrigation pond to a location that would serve a detention function and replacing the deep well pump with one that would take advantage of retained water.

The solution

The scope of the golf course renovation included drainage work throughout the course. Central to the drainage component was the creation of a new 3.85 acre lake in a large out-of-play area between the 2nd green, 3rd tee and 4th hole. This new lake area was also used to generate fill material for many of the new green complexes and bunkers included in the plan.

The objective for creating the new lake was threefold:

  • Converting this large, grassy area to water would eliminate mowing.
  • The new lake would serve as the new irrigation lake.
  • The new lake would allow the course to retain more than 100 acres of watershed runoff before it left the property and save that water to be re-used for irrigation – eliminating the need to use power to run the existing well and reclaiming a great deal of irrigation runoff in addition to rainwater runoff.

The takeaways

Taking advantage of existing topography, and enhancing its ability to drain water to a low spot and retain it for irrigation use, has resulted in saving between seven and eight million gallons of water each year since renovation, as well as lower energy costs for pumping. The resulting aesthetic quality of a large mid-course lake is a welcome bonus.