Water restrictions to hit golf clubs

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 21, 2012 15:07

The technical manager of an agri-business has warned that golf courses will be first in the firing line if water restrictions are imposed on consumers this year.

An emergency ‘drought summit’ was called this week by the government’s land resources agency, Defra, which highlighted the perilous state of the UK’s water reserves. Water companies in affected areas are expected to file for emergency drought orders and drought permits that will impose restrictions on water use.

“The availability of water to golf courses is going to be turned off long before supplies to homes are cut,” said Syngenta’s Dr Simon Watson.

“For turf managers from north Midlands to the south east and including East Anglia, there is the very real prospect of water restrictions on irrigation resources. Many golf courses have already had restrictions imposed on existing abstraction licenses that would normally now be filling reservoirs ready for the summer.”

Defra’s secretary, Caroline Spelman, had earlier said: “We have had the second dry winter in a row. I think that it is more likely that the public water supply will be affected, unless we have substantial rainfall between now and the summer.”

To highlight the likelihood that golf will be hit by any new measures, the Angling Trust reacted to her comments by singling out golf clubs for criticism. “We live in a mad world where purified drinking water is used to water golf courses in a country with one of the worst records for extravagant water use in the whole of Europe,” said spokesman Martin Salter.

Golf venues have expressed concern as to what the extent of any restrictions may be.

“A lot of golf clubs who don’t have their own supply of water will be in a muddle,” said Basil Todd, proprietor of the Wensum Valley Golf Club in Norfolk.

“If they stopped us using water then the greens at every golf club in the county would dry up. We cannot let that happen. But I have got lakes and ponds here and I have an abstraction license and a borehole. If they withdrew those licenses it would give me a problem.

“We are going to put a storage area in to catch all the roof water. That will be enough to water the course for a couple of days.”

Dr Simon Watson stated that using available irrigation water more efficiently and ensuring plants can make the best possible use of rainfall will be essential for turf managers to maintain high quality playing surfaces this summer.

“An effective water conservation programme will be imperative, and possibly extended across wider areas of the course than has been considered in previous seasons,” he advised. “Courses that may have got by with heavy watering schedules in the past, will now need to look at better management of resources.”

He added that Glenn Rayfield, head greenkeeper at Felixstowe Ferry Golf Club, which experiences less than 50cm (20 inches) of rainfall a year, and Philip Baldock, head greenkeeper at Ganton Golf Club near Scarborough, “one of Britain’s most hydrophobic golf courses”, have both successfully used wetting agents to cope with arid conditions.

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 21, 2012 15:07
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  1. MJ Abbott Ltd (@MJAbbottLtd) February 24, 08:48

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  2. Mile End Golf Club (@MileEndGolfClub) February 23, 11:50

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  3. Sean Mysel February 21, 20:49


    Terrific article. Here in California, we are constantly struggling with these conditions, especially in the southern part of the state. Once summer comes around we experience temperatures in the 100F range. The key is to have a contingency plan before you face these conditions. This typically falls on the superintendent with respect to how you water fairways and greens. Much of what we would do is to syringe the greens, or lightly spray them to keep the heat off.

    Bottom line is it’s all about the prep work you do, get a plan, work it and monitor it.

    Keep up the good work partner!

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  4. (@AnthonyHastePGA) (@AnthonyHastePGA) February 21, 20:31

    » Water restrictions to hit golf clubs http://t.co/ig2pZmzV

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