2002: Our Opinion - Conserve water before restrictions are set

As drought conditions continue to worsen in areas across the United States, superintendents are faced with trying to satisfy two diametrically opposed demands.

The prospect of catering to the whims of fussy golfers while meeting the reduction requirements of water districts looms for many greenkeepers. Much of the Northeast and Southeast, plus several states in the West, are in prolonged dry spells. Some states have enacted modest water restrictions or have called for voluntary cutbacks. But every day without rain brings drastic measures closer to reality.

Superintendents needn’t wait for the strong arm of government to impose its will on them. Many courses pump more water than is needed for sustaining a healthy, agronomically sound golf course. Some overwater for job security, since no superintendent ever lost his or her post because of overly lush conditions. As the public hears more about droughts and water restrictions, superintendents have the political cover they need to start planning and implementing reduced watering schedules.

Of course, taking such an initiative means playing conditions could change. Therefore, it’s best to head off reactions by communicating your plan in the form of meetings with club members or informational notices to public-course golfers.

Tell them what to expect as irrigation is decreased in some areas, such as roughs and native landscapes. Highlight the upside of firmer, faster fairways providing greater ball roll. Mention how turf deepens its roots and becomes more resilient as it dries out and takes on a golden hue. Reassure them that the greens will be maintained to acceptable playing standards, but those standards may hark back to another era of golf.

Droughts are slow in reaching a crisis stage, but that’s no reason for delay. Superintendents should act now.

GCSAA extends a hand

In the May 3 editorial (Take steps to promote diversity in industry) we suggested the GCSAA “should extend a hand” to Alcorn State University as it plans to offer the first turf-degree program at a historically black college. Had we done our homework, we would instead have commended the GCSAA for its early involvement in the school’s plans.

Jeff Bollig, the association’s director of communications, informed us that about three years ago, CEO Steve Mona and Kim Heck, director of career development, met Benjamin Kraft, the Alcorn State official spearheading the program’s development. Since then, GCSAA staff members have made three trips to Alcorn State to discuss program curriculum and funding, as well as the creation of a GCSAA student chapter.

“We have also provided a wide variety of documents and materials. . . . The dialogue has been ongoing,” Bollig said.

Well done, GCSAA.

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