Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Focusing Irrigation on Priority Areas

In case you missed it, here's yesterday's Puttin' Down Roots, by Karl Danneberger.

What do you think? In times of drought, does the rough deserve a drink? Leave us a comment below! 

With drought conditions hitting many parts of the United States this year, watering is a critical issue not only in the amount available but how it should be used. In areas where water is limited, prioritize the critical areas on a golf course that need to receive water. Obviously, greens are at the top of the list, followed by tees.

But from a golfing perspective, areas like greens surrounds/complex and associated fairway and rough landing areas may need to be considered. The green complex provides not only a visually aesthetic area but also an important area for playability. Golfers don't want to miss the putting surface by a few yards and see their golf balls bounce 30 to 50 yards away.

One of the most difficult areas to decide how to water is fairway landing areas. In some cases where water is plentiful even with a drought, the tendency is to overwater. This results in the ball plugging or causes little roll. To the golfer this is extremely disappointing, especially if a playing partner misses the fairway slightly but gets an additional 30 yards because of drought conditions in the rough.

You need to communicate with your golfers or members on the conditions they would value, especially regarding fairway conditions. It might be if water is limited, that they would rather have the fairways drier and the rough actually receiving some water to make it more penal.

Karl Danneberger, Ph.D., Golfdom's science editor and a turfgrass professor from The Ohio State University, can be reached at

Editor's note: "Puttin' Down Roots," an e-newsletter from Golfdom and sponsored by BASF, focuses on plant health. Each month, Golfdom provides readers with a useful plant health tip so they can do their jobs easier. 

1 comment:

Jason Haines said...

I agree. We do not irrigate our rough and only have a single row system on our fairways. We water the fairways to keep the centre lines green but still firm. As you venture further from the centre lines it gets drier, firmer and the turf is less dense.

You could argue that the firmer conditions are an advantage as the ball will roll further but it will also roll further into the deep rough, hazards and areas far less desirable than nice firm green turf. The less than ideal lie also presents a challenge over the centre lines of the fairways.

Furthermore un-irrigated turf requires less inputs than irrigated turf (fertilizer, pesticides).

Sadly I feel that many courses that were designed in the 90's and early 2000's were designed with thick dense rough as an integral design feature. If you take that away it will substantially change the way the course plays. Older classic courses that were designed for dry, dormant rough are have less impact from turning the water off in the rough.