Monday, August 31, 2015

Irrigation Irritation

The golf course has had to rely almost entirely on irrigation as it's source of water for the past month.  August is over today and we've received just over .5" of rain for the month.    

Irrigation is a good supplement to rain, but it is a terrible substitute.  The uniformity of coverage is really poor compared to a rainfall even with the most advanced irrigation systems.  Every irrigation head covers a large circular area and there are many gaps and overlaps throughout the course. Imagine a bunch of circles 140' in diameter placed over the course but not allowed to fall outside the property.  Some places might get covered with two or three circles.  There would also be some places along the edges where no coverage would occur.  Then throw in some slopes, different soil types, trees, and wind.  I didn't mention the 20 year old irrigation heads with worn nozzles.  They certainly don't help the situation. That is why, in an extended absence of rain, we end up with very dry areas and very wet areas.   A wet area is probably getting coverage from more than two heads, is in a low area, has poor drainage, is far from trees, and is in heavy clay.  Any one of those conditions would make it wet, but if all of those conditions exist it is almost unplayable.  Some areas get zero irrigation coverage and rely on rain alone.  They may also be in a sandier soil, near trees, or at the top of a slope. These areas are essentially dormant or perhaps dead at this point. We'll re-seed if the weather improves.  We are not staffed to water the entire course with a hose although that is how we handle greens.  Obviously greens are our most prized assets so we are completely focused on keeping moisture levels consistent by hand watering.  It takes 7 days a week for up to 10 hours a day during times like this.  4 acres gets the royal treatment while the other 180 have to rough it.  

The area in the distance gets covered by multiple irrigation heads
while the area in the near portion gets only single coverage

This area is so hard and dry that the water runs to the lowest point and
then puddles.  You can't drive a nail in the ground beneath the puddle.  

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