Irrigation confusion for golf clubs

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 29, 2012 10:18

The manager of one Essex golf club has appealed to England Golf to urgently enter into negotiations with water companies ahead of forthcoming restrictions on water usage, amid fears that this could devastate golf courses throughout parts of the UK. He has also called for guidance on what clubs are allowed to do and how they can survive a dry spring and summer. Meanwhile, a second Essex club manager has stated he has experienced aggression from people angry about golf clubs’ consumption of water.

On April 5, seven water companies in southern and eastern England are bringing in bans on the use of hosepipes and sprinklers until further notice, due to the lack of rainfall in recent months.

David Bowles, secretary at Theydon Bois Golf Club, has said that he is unclear as to how this will apply to golf clubs, although his head greenkeeper has heard that he will be ‘banned from watering the course and filling up storage tanks’. He added that his water company, Veolia Water, has not contacted the club to detail what the restrictions will involve. Greenkeepers at other clubs in the last two weeks have also complained about a lack of clarity and information from water companies regarding how the hosepipe bans will affect them.

“With a dry spring and / or summer, not watering the course could result in serious damage being caused to the greens,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Veolia Water said that clubs can only irrigate their grass from systems connected to a meter from April 5. She added that water drawn from the mains supply into tanks other than hand-held receptacles for subsequent use for watering the course will not be permitted.

“Watering areas of grass used for sport or recreation using a hosepipe [or sprinkler] are covered by the ban,” she said. “This includes all golf courses. It applies to both publicly and privately owned facilities; both can be large users of water but some may have private water supplies. Golf courses can still be watered using other sources of water.

“Established turf older than 28 days old does not require watering.”

In an email to the Essex Golf Union, Mr Bowles asked: “Could either the Essex Golf Union or England Golf assist in talking to the water boards to see if we can get some form of exemption, even if it simply reduced the amount of water being used? Are you aware of any actions being taken by other clubs to overcome this ban?”

Neil Sjoberg, the manager of Epping Golf Course in Essex, recently attended a Sustainable Water Industry Group meeting, which looked at what golf clubs can do to survive the drought.

“More than one person has approached me with some aggression towards golf courses,” he said.

“Greenkeepers should be required to monitor their water use. There is no excuse for golf courses not moving towards using stored rainwater and mulching to avoid pouring chlorinated water on our courses.

“We all need to build green roofs and green walls to slow the flow of rainwater into drains thus increasing evaporation and stabilising our microclimate.”

He added that golf clubs should work together to provide best practice examples of efficient water usage to challenge negative perceptions of golf courses being huge consumers of water.

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 29, 2012 10:18
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8 Comments

  1. Chris Ford March 30, 10:16

    A strong case for rainwater harvesting, I know the investment can be high but in the long term it more than pays for it’s self and the price of water is only going to increase. I may be bias as I sell and install the kit but the UK has been slow to make the investment and catch up with the rest of Europe.

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  2. (@HartCommonGC) (@HartCommonGC) March 30, 07:03

    » Irrigation confusion for golf clubs http://t.co/xEylWg3f

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  3. Richard March 30, 06:35

    RE the above comments just a few point s to clarify

    Surely their is more social responsibility in growing food crops than playing golf?

    Agriculture dwarfs the uk golf industry, in employment, importance and economically. To even compare the 2 is laughable.

    EGU to get involved? Businesses affected? Maybe just TAX paying PROPRIETARY owned clubs should still be able to carry on using water? After all private members clubs are not for profit so they are not businesses are they? They loose money on visitors green fees (so they tell the tax man) so they are not reliant on them are they?

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  4. Frank Clapp March 29, 12:39

    I recall 1976 when a hosepipe ban was in operation as well as standpipes for homes, during the time when the Minister in charge commented ‘ save water, bath with a friend!’ At that time golf clubs reduced their water usage by raising heights of cut on approaches and tees and not watering these but continued to water greens. Muswell Hill Golf Club had a picture of the 2nd green with the sprinklers on at 2.30am on the front page of the Daily Mirror, with a comment about social responsibility, but were permitted to continue irrigating. In the light of the golf clubs being businesses, the golf industry, I believe, employing more people than farming coupled with the cost of replacing greens damaged by drought, I believe that England Golf should now lobby on behalf of the clubs whose members pay to them a large part of their income.

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  5. David Knight March 29, 12:25

    This is not the first hosepipe ban that has been introduced in the UK ever. I fail to understand why the clubs not put in to place either rain water harvesting systems or borehole pumps after all they have the space. If a club is on a water meter they will be paying a premium to the water authorities for the supply and will be subject to every hose pipe ban for evermore. A rain water harvesting system would pay for its self in a very short time. A borehole pump which would require a licence and there will be a restriction on the amount of water that they can use in 24 hours would also pay for itself. Come on all you clubs both private and council run put your hands in your pockets and do your bit to save the planet.

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  6. County Turf (@countyturf) March 29, 12:23

    » Irrigation confusion for golf clubs http://t.co/sPbYQVRv

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  7. County Turf (@countyturf) March 29, 12:23

    » Irrigation confusion for golf clubs http://t.co/sPbYQVRv

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  8. Straightdownthepipe (@str8downthepipe) March 29, 10:26

    Clearly, clubs in the SE need clarity on the sprinker/hosepipe ban. Need more sustainabilty going forward too http://t.co/PyJKlDuF

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