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Golf Industry Water Task Force Coming to Northern California?

Golf Industry Water Task Force Coming to Northern California?

Feb. 11, 2014

WaterTask force groups that specifically address golf in the Golden State’s biggest dilemma — water — already exist in the Los Angeles, San Diego and Coachella Valley areas.

Is one of Northern California’s biggest regions preparing to get on board?

This Friday, golf industry leaders and experts including Golf Course Superintendents Association of America Southwest Region (California, Hawaii, Nevada, Arizona) representative Jeff Jensen will meet at Empire Ranch Golf Club in Folsom to discuss the formation of a potential golf industry water conservation task force serving the Sacramento area.

The idea of golf course operators banding together with local officials to search for water solutions began in 2009 in Los Angeles. That year, the water supply was so minimal that the city council passed an Emergency Water Conservation Ordinance mandating that golf courses only be irrigated on Mondays and Thursdays and between the times of 5 p.m. to 8 a.m.

As a result of the measures, L.A.’s golf community organized and started talking with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). The meetings culminated in the formation of a localized Golf Industry Water Conservation Task Force, where both members of the golf industry and LADWP could have an open dialogue regarding water use and conservation.

As part of the exchange, golf industry leaders got to educate the LAPDW on better management practices for golf course irrigation. On the flip side, the LAPDW got to educate golf course representatives on the requirements set by the LADPW.

In other words, a win-win.

Seeing that it only helped to work together, the San Diego region formed its own task force in early 2012.

Next, it was on to the desert. Due to declines in local groundwater levels, a group of golf course managers and local water district officials recently formed the Coachella Valley Golf Industry Water Conservation Task Force.

As Craig Kessler, director of governmental affairs for the Southern California Golf Association, said in a Club Resort and Business article discussing the task forces, “golf course managers see a need to step to the plate as an industry and figure out how to do business in a way that uses less water.”

Along with conservation, another way to save water is simply to have less turf to irrigate. As part of L.A.’s conservation efforts, Woodland Hills Country Club opted to remove turf on parts of the course. Here up north, Pasatiempo GC in Santa Cruz eliminated turf in out-of-play areas.

When it opens, the new Poppy Hills will feature a state-of-the-art irrigation system that goes as far as to pinpoint whether parts of the course are getting watered too much or too little. The renovation also eliminated more than 20% of previously irrigated turf through the introduction of native grasses and natural sandy areas.

The water issue is not going to go away. As the other task forces have showed, the search for solutions starts with dialogue.

Following Friday’s meeting, don’t be surprised if the question becomes: Who’s next?

-Jerry Stewart

Author: Jerry Stewart

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