GPS Mapping - Part 2 of 2

Posted by Craig Zellers

GPS Mapping GolfCreating a Turf Plan

Now that you have a hand drawn or GPS map with sprinklers & features, the question is "What can I do with my map"? The better question is "What can't you do?" It's time for some creative fun. You can use a cost conscious approach and place a bum wad or acetate sheet over your new plan. With a marker draw new lines and develop a new turf plan.

With respect to sprinklers, you begin to see where rough and fairway lines can be amended. In some cases, moving a sprinkler 10 feet onto the fairway side of a cart path allows you to change a full circle sprinkler into a part circle and new turf lines are created. A more formal approach, and one that can be cost-effective, is to utilize a course designer to help define a new turf plan. Although there is a cost, the benefit is that the new plan takes course playability and golfer ability into consideration. Current irrigated areas such as roughs, tee surrounds and turf between tees does not always need to be irrigated and manicured as if it's playable turf. The experienced eye of a course designer can help create smooth, consistent and fair turf lines throughout the course. 

With new turf lines, sprinklers can be turned off, moved or changed to part circles. Calculations on water savings can begin. As the new plan develops, you should decide what to do with the areas that are proposed low or zero water use.

Consider waste areas, pine straw or wood chips. Many courses have already begun this practice by cutting out turf and putting wood chips under tree canopies. Native or drought tolerant plants can also be considered. The timing for planting is a big factor, along with the need to irrigate during the plant's initial growth stage. Some stations can be converted to drip so valuable trees or shrubs can continue their life cycle. You can let the new non-irrigated areas grow out. An occasional cutting and irrigation cycle will keep it dust-free and can turn the area into a visually appealling feature in contrast to the usual green turf. The important thing to consider is what to do with the new non-irrigated areas, as the question will always be asked by the principals of the course. 

Communication Counts!

The key to bringing all of your previous effort to fruition is communication. Everyone involved in the management of the golf course from the golf professional to membership to the owner should be involved in determining the new water conservation plan. If you don't have compete buy-in from your peers and the ownership of the club, the plan is bound to fail and fingers will be pointed.

Schedule a brief wine and cheese mixer with the membership to educate them on the proposed plan. Layout the blueprint size plan on a table or the wall and explain the reasons why these actions may be necessary. Solicit their input and take notes on all of the comments. Share your opinion regarding the detrimental effects of these actions, as well as the benefits. Show them how a reduction in turf will lead to a decrease in water costs. Discuss the ancillary benefits of less turf, including less fertilizer, seed, and mowing related costs. Numbers can be effective and be conservative in your estimations.

To support your efforts, pass around some erasable markers and let them have some input in the planning. Involvement quickly leads to ownership and pride in the plan and in the results. 

Superintendents should never forget that the golf course is not their course and the ultimate decision should be made by the ownership. Should they decide to do nothing, you can take pride in knowing that you tried to do your part in water conservation. At the worst you will have a valuable map for your irrigation needs and know your irrigation system a little more intimately.

Golf Irrigation Consultants - 415-342-1030