Reducing the total area of rough and of other zones located outside of the line of play, is an excellent opportunity to improve sustainability in golf course maintenance. The existing resources can be targeted to a smaller area, rather than reducing resources over the same existing area.
In a masterclass that has been organized by the AEGG (Spanish Association of Club Managers), four members of the AEdG (Spanish association of Greenkeepers), contributed with their experience and vision in the implementation of sustainable measures and commented on real case studies. Pablo Muñoz, cofounder of Surtec Golf Agronomy, went through the key points for a successful turf reduction strategy that allows for a reduction of the total irrigated area, while improving the quality of the golf course and the golfer experience.
Please note the following video was filmed in spanish, so do not hesitate to connect with us if you would like to know more about it.
After reminding that in today’s golf environmental context, there is a reduction in available water resources and poorer water quality, as well as more competence, restrictions, and associated costs in the access to water, Pablo reminded also that golf courses are still seen as wasters of water. Because of these, Pablo highlighted that the golfing industry has to manage water resources in a responsible and efficient manner.
Today, taking into account that the pandemic situation has united the game and the environment like never before, and in a context in which clubs have to make decisions on where to target their limited resources, turf reduction is an obvious option. The main objectives of this strategy are listed as follows:
- Reduce maintenance costs.
- Reduce water use.
- Improve sustainability.
- Open up a window of opportunity for golf course improvements such as design or aesthetic improvements. Also, to target the available resources in the new reduced areas.
After this, Pablo reviewed the keys for success:
- Define “the alternative non-irrigated landscape” that would substitute the existing one. Options range from (native vegetation, transition to drought tolerant species, mulch, landscaping, etc.).
- Determine the cost of the strategy to implement.
- Evaluate if the works are to be carried out in house, by an external contractor, or with a combination of both.
- Have the support of expert advise to carry out all works, including the ones that affect the irrigation system.
A successul case study
Lastly, Pablo went through the successful case of Golf La Moraleja 2, where they accomplished a reduction of a 30% irrigated turf area, while renewing and improving the golf course aesthetics. The following conclusions were made:
- It is essential to rely on expert advise. It is also critical to carry out trial areas and show the results to the Club, because every golf course has their unique circumstances.
- Water savings are a fact, but post-maintenance costs are not fully eradicated.
- Reducing the total irrigated area allows for having more resources for other areas, such as greens, tees, fairways, etc.
- Carrying out the works in-house together with an external contractor in a phased manner have produced great results.
The rest of the speakers in the masterclass were Tomás Agulló, Head Greenkeeper of Lumine Golf Club (“Habitats, biodiversity and maintenance in the golf course”); Ignacio Soto, Head Greenkeeper of Finca Cortesín (“Adaptation to climate: transition to new species and varieties”); and Luis Manuel Casado, Head Greenkeeper of Centro Nacional de Golf (“A reduction of the energy demand: renewable energy”).