The first set of data I evaluated this off season was water use at the club from our two pump-stations. It is from these two water sources that we draw water to irrigate the two courses and wash our equipment.
Mother Nature obviously plays a big part in seasonal water use but I like our historical trend as water use has been following a steady decline.
Years of hard work with our irrigation programs along with fine tuning our individual head run times has dramatically reduced our water use. We have identified locations on every irrigated green, tee, fairway, approach and rough that tend to hold water or tend to dry out and have adjusted preset run times accordingly.
Many areas on both courses are now only irrigated to water in applications of wetting agents/PGR’s/fertilizer then are turned off the rest of the time. Other areas have limited traffic (like par 3 surrounds) and have been found to require zero supplemental water from an irrigation system. The irrigation heads are there but they are no longer needed regularly. We leave the heads in place in case we enter a drought or an application needs to be watered in.
Hundreds of full circle heads have been replaced with Part circle heads on the Greywalls course. This not only reduced water use but also helped the playability of certain areas on the course because less water is now entering natural/native areas.
We have completed a two phase improvement in the Heritage course pump-station over the last 10 years. The first phase was a controller update and the second phase was a pump replacement. We now have more control over water pumping as 60 year old technology was replaced with present day technology. Two pumps are now doing what three pumps did before the upgrade; the new main pump is no longer butterfly valve controlled but is now VFD controlled saving electricity while making it easy on the old pipes.
Strategic use of wetting agents is probably the next most important aspect of water use reduction here at the Marquette Golf Club. We apply these products with our sprayers on the greens, tees and approaches on both courses and we apply them through our irrigation system (utilizing an injector) on the Greywalls course. Wetting agents work in several different ways to control localized dry spots. Most allow water to penetrate and hold in hydrophobic soil conditions and eliminates the need to over irrigate.
We still have areas of improvement that we can work on as we continue to strive towards more efficient water use. The next big area of reduction is on the Heritage course. A complete irrigation head evaluation needs to take place in order to identify all full circle heads that can be replaced with part circle heads; then an investment in those heads needs to be budgeted and planned.
Saving water is saving money because the less we pump the less electricity we use and the more money we save..... and who does not like to save money!