Water, Water, Water...
18 JUL 2020
Our millions and millions and millions of grass plants at RattleSnake Point have four basic needs to survive; sunlight, adequate fertilizer, a healthy soil system and WATER!
Water is distributed to the property from the 3 - 60 Hp variable speed pumps that supply 1800 gallons per minute as needed in our pump house located behind the 11th tee on Sidewinder. Our irrigation system starts here and is supplied to the course via a 10-inch mainline and into many kilometres of piping and then eventually to our over 1500 supply heads. An effective system supplies adequate, effective and efficient water to the course through daily night time programming of our irrigation central computer. We adjust our water needs on a daily basis based on environmental evapotranspiration rates (how much the weather removes or contributes water to our soils). A high humidity day with low winds would remove much less moisture from the property than a high sky, windy, sunny day that dries things out much more. We try to avoid as much sprinkler operation on our greens as we can and tend to rely more on hand water to eliminate any prolonged leaf moisture that promotes disease to the plants. We also radio control our irrigation heads every morning to hit our ‘hot spots’. These hot spots may be south-facing slopes, mounds and traffic areas that require more water than our night time cycle.
I get the question during dry years like this one ‘will we have enough water this year?’. Even though after looking at the water in all the on sight ponds the question is very good and I do get a bit worried when we have a hot and dry start to the year as we have this one. We have over 60 million gallons of water in our on-course ponds plus 19 million in our reservoir located out of play (for most?!) on 7 Sidewinder. When we are watering at full capacity we pump close to 1 million gallons on our night cycle plus another 200,000 for spot watering, hand watering and wash pad operations. We also have to take into consideration evaporation and we could lose as much as 50,000 gallons during the drier days. So after some quick math, our reservoir could withstand about 17 days and then we have to tap into our on course ponds. These ponds give us another 50 days. So my real rough calculations and experience with many dry years I tend to like to get to July 1 with everything on the property chock full and I am 100% confident that we will make it through a drier than normal year. At times we do begin to shut down some areas of the property to conserve water the driving range being the first as it is not in play and a bonus is we all can get the feel of hitting 300++ yard drives!
At times you will see our irrigation pond (the forced carry pond on 11 Sidewinder) very low. This pond holds just about 1.1 million gallons so it has to be filled daily via gravity from the reservoir or other ponds on the property. This pond is also an on line pond that we can capture water during storm events. When we have rains (usually over 10mm) the tributary starts flowing and this is when we grab as much as we can and start filling things back up. Not only does the tributary start flowing, but our drainage system is so effective that many of the on-course ponds come up. Eventually, start dropping these ponds and moving it into our reservoir.
Despite having sufficient water to finish out the year, our fingers are always crossed at the chance of some fresh rain! Ten minutes of rainfall is always far more effective than ten minutes of irrigation.
Bill McAllister, Golf Course Superintendent