Drought is a hazard to any golf course, but its impact can be lessened by proper planning.   

Shawn Emerson, director of agronomy for Desert Mountain, is faced with the topic each day at the six-course complex in Scottsdale, Ariz. Emerson’s workplace experience and education has led him to compile a full list of topics any golf course should consider in preparing to combat drought. These include:

  • Water regulations – Research state and municipal water regulations. Ask if reclaimed water is exempt from regulation.
  • Grass selection – Root zone depth is a key factor, as are soil conditions, infiltration rate and more. Remember, decisions made today affect future drought management.
  • Measuring devices – Weather stations and soil sensors (manual and automatic) are valuable tools in a drought.
  • Soil & tissue testing – Healthy soil enables a course to recover from drought, while tissue testing tells the condition of the turf. Prepare for stress situations by increasing use of wetting agents, growth regulators and bio-stimulants.
  • Irrigation system efficiency – Verify your sprinkler operation and make adjustments if needed. Obtain high uniformity in your nozzle selection based on spacing and gallon per minute.

Emerson presented his remarks on drought in December. It was the third in a series of water education seminars offered by ASGCA and Rain Bird.

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