Drought Update from Bushwood

22 Jun 2021 1:54 PM | John MacKenzie

Editorial comment:

The following is an actual e-conversation that took place on June 17th.  The names have been changed; however, you could easily interject your course name, your name, your owner, your municipality, green committee chair, president, Mayor etc.  The response is well articulated and a strong case for all the advocacy work our association has been doing for the last decade.  While we may not have achieved our goal of access to water through efficiency and conservation efforts, the industry continues to be a part of the discussion.

Good morning Carl,

Could you please call me.  I spoke with Lou yesterday about Bushwood CC.  If you haven’t already done so, could you please minimize or stop any watering of the fairways and water the greens as needed.  Also, wondering how your well is doing?  Thanks so much for your help and cooperation!  Have a great day!!!  Judge

Hello Judge,

The risk level of what you’ve suggested is catastrophic.  The fine turf surfaces of creeping bentgrass greens, tees and fairways are not nearly as drought tolerant in comparison to a traditional home lawn of kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass.  When you compound the physical damage inflicted by walking, golf car traffic, golf play, maintenance equipment, the plants can be severely damaged or altogether killed.  23 acres of fairways would require 1,500 lbs of seed to reestablish.  That may not seem like much, but at $12 per pound for the cost for seed alone, the expense to reestablish adds up quickly.  Now factor in the potential for $1.3 million in lost revenue (as golfers tend to refuse playing on dead turf) for being closed for a year to reestablish the course, I’m not sure the Country Club can bear the expense? (hypothetical question). 

Quite frankly, the threat of water permits being suspended altogether are exactly why our industry has been petitioning to reclassify golf courses from category 6 non-essential users into a classification of it’s own, with at least some water assurances during times water permits are canceled.

Rather than me writing a 15-page email on the subject of water conversation on the golf course, I will point you to our State’s Best Management Practices handbook as developed through the Minnesota Golf Course Superintendents Association and numerous industry and institutional contributors.  The methodologies explained are well employed at Bushwood, including hand watering, use of wetting agents, use of soil moisture sensors, night time programming, raising mowing heights, decreasing frequency of mowing, etc.

BMP: Golf Course Efficiency and Conservation Manual in 2018

In the meantime, Bushwood Country Club will suspend irrigation of all non-essential/out-of-play areas (actually most already are) including the clubhouse lawn.  We’ve already reduced water on rough by 30-50%, so we can allocate the available water time window to apply the necessary water onto the fine turf surfaces. 

I am available for additional discussion at your convenience.

Yours in Service,

Carl S

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