Hand watering is not just important it is imperative. It is imperative to providing championship caliber conditions on a daily basis. It is imperative to having healthy and vigorous turf. It is imperative for providing fast and firm playing surfaces. Hand watering is imperative for meeting our members’ and guests’ expectations and allowing them to play challenging, fair and enjoyable rounds. Hand watering is imperative on a top 50 golf course in the transition zone.
It is common knowledge that grass needs water to survive the summers and stay healthy. However, it is not common knowledge for how that water needs to be applied on golf courses. Victoria National is a beautiful course but with that beauty comes challenges. The hills and undulations cause a headache for water management. We cannot rely solely on irrigation as the slopes will dry out but the valleys will collect water and become wet and soft. Because of this we can only use automatic irrigation as much as our wet areas allow us to. Hand watering must be used to supply the dry slopes and hilltops with enough water to allow the bent grass to grow healthy and survive the hot summers in the transition zone. Another area that we hand water frequently is the rough. The rough requires more water than the fine turf but we cannot run the heads to supply that amount because the same heads water the rough and the fine turf. Due to this reason we must add extra water to the rough using hoses and hand waterers.
A more meticulous method of hand watering is that which is done on greens. Victoria National members and guests expect fast and firm greens. The best way to each this is keeping your greens dry. However, there is a fine line between keeping them dry and keeping them too dry. Allowing your greens to dry out not provides championship playing conditions it also provides the plants with a healthier growing environment. During the hot and humid days the plant will begin to suffocate and the drier they are kept it allows the roots and the leaf tissue to breath and exchange freely transpire and exchange oxygen. Again, there is a fine line between healthy dry and being detrimentally dry. A tool that we use to determine this is a moisture meter. Many will see our staff checking moisture levels on greens using these tools throughout the day. They tell us when, where, and how much water we need to apply to greens to provide them with the optimum moisture level from both a health and playability stand point.
One last watering technique that we use is that of syringing. On greens this is done using a hose where the turf is lightly and quickly watered. The reason behind this is to cool the canopy of the turf while not adding any water to the soil. This will take place on hot and humid days where the soil moisture level is not moving because of the humidity but the heat of the day stresses the turf out. On fairways and tees we will use our automatic irrigation. The irrigation heads will run one full revolution applying enough water to cool the turf canopy and give it a break from the heat while not saturating the soil.
It is a simple concept that grass needs water to survive, and during the heat grass needs more water to survive. But on a golf course, especially one, designed like Victoria National, with Championship expectations, and placed in the transition zone, supplying this water is more than just being straight forward. Watering this course is an art form that requires knowledge, precision and more than anything dedication.
Written by: Senior Assistant Gerald Smith