In the movie The Water Boy, Bobby Boucher was passionate, to say the least, about water. He loved providing high-quality H2O to his teammates, and he believed water was everything — to him, water was life! If you manage turf on a golf course, you probably put a similar value on water as Bobby did.
There are many variables on a golf course that you can’t control, including weather, employees, equipment failures, greens committees, insects, disease, and others I’m sure I’m forgetting. My point is this: irrigation is one variable that we can control, and it’s vital. Poor water management can lead to all sorts of problems on a golf course. So, why not strive for excellence in this area? These are a few tips and tricks that helped me manage irrigation as a superintendent.
Good irrigation starts in the fall and winter when temperatures drop and time allows you to make repairs and updates to your irrigation system. Performing routine maintenance can help prevent untimely breakdowns during the peak season. Shutting the system off to fix a leaking valve or a faulty sprinkler on a Friday when it’s 90 degrees is neither practical nor fun.
When it comes to accurately and precisely irrigating turf, there’s no substitute for time spent on the golf course scouting and monitoring your turf’s moisture levels. Every golf course is unique and has its own set of watering challenges. Different turf types, soils, drainage, irrigation systems, budgets, golfer expectations, and climates require a customized and fine-tuned approach. Spending the extra time and effort to find that sweet spot between healthy turf and happy golfers is key.
Luckily, we live in an age where we have technology literally at our fingertips. Being able to closely and accurately monitor the weather is paramount. Central control systems, moisture meters, soil sensors, soil probes, and even the dew pattern can help us to better monitor moisture levels. We also have a strong selection of wetting agents currently on the market. Products like Foliar-Pak’s Matador can be yet another tool in the toolbox for improved water management.
Staying ahead of the game is pivotal. The old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” holds true when it comes to turf and water. Getting behind on watering can create a cycle of chasing hot spots all summer and hoping for recovery that often doesn’t come until fall. Taking advantage of today’s technology and tools can help you better manage your water. Like many facets of turf management, it’s never just one thing that leads to success or failure, but a combination of efforts and decisions made throughout the season.
Bobby Boucher knew one thing: that better water equals better performance. So, spend the time and effort to make your irrigation more effective and in turn, you will have healthier turf and happier golfers.