Friday, July 13, 2012

The Golf Course Goldilocks Syndrome

It is during the periods of little or no rainfall that we obviously must rely on the irrigation system to help maintain the health of the turf.  In the past three weeks (from June 22-July 13), we have received a mere 0.35" of rain.  With the above average temperatures we've dealt with, that is less moisture than the turf will use or lose in two days.

There is no substitute for a good rain event.  Even the best sprinklers in a test facility operate with a less than perfect “uniformity of distribution.”  Outside of the lab, wind, in particular, will play havoc with a sprinkler’s coverage.  Add to this the affect on drying of different soil types, as well as runoff from slopes into swales, and it isn’t surprising that there is variation in moisture levels on the course.

Our irrigation system was designed in the 1980's, and in this part of the country, systems are generally just a supplement to regular rainfall.  Therefore, when we do have these periods when we are relying exclusively on irrigation, it can be a bit like Goldilocks:  This spot is too dry, this spot is too wet, and this spot is just right. 

We make every effort to balance both the playability and the long-term condition of the golf course.  In addition to the automatic irrigation, we devote a significant amount of labor to hand watering in the summer, as well as the use of portable roller base sprinklers to help fill in the gaps of coverage.

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