When the California Mojave Water District implemented a “cash for grass” program, Silver Lakes Country Club and IGM jumped on the opportunity to upgrade Silver Lakes to greater water efficiency standards. IGM is the contractor for all the Helendale, California club’s golf course maintenance needs. The private golf club features 27 championship holes, covering 240 acres, and required significant work to meet California’s mandatory regulations to ease drought issues. The three-year project was completed in February 2018.

The “cash for grass” program provides an incentive for replacing grass and overhead irrigation with equivalent carbon offsetting plants, trees and underground irrigation, by reimbursing companies $1 per square foot. Since undertaking the turf reduction project in 2015, IGM has replaced 500,000 square feet, or 11.5 acres, of grass at Silver Lakes to create a more desert-scaped golf course. Most of the work has been along the perimeter of the fairways and between the tees, so no closures of the year-round course were necessary.

To create the desert-scape environment, IGM used:

  • 5,000+ tons of decomposed granite soil stabilizer to control dust
  • 1,530 tons of colored gravel
  • 1,026 tons of cobbles, a larger gravel
  • 160 tons of boulder rocks
  • 5,000+ assorted plants
  • 45 trees

IGM’s Superintendent at Silver Lakes, Brad Rook said the most challenging part of the upgrade has been controlling water when it rains. “We’re in the California hills. Hillsides naturally absorb water, but the rocks don’t, and the rain runs off. We also had to build in special berms to control the run-off.” Overall, he said the renovation has improved the course’s appearance, as well as increased water efficiency. “This is part of a private Home Owners Association, and the owners want it to look appealing.”

In addition, IGM has provided complete golf course maintenance and agronomic expertise at Silver Lakes since 1999. Rook noted that his regular crew has carried on with routine maintenance needs throughout the project, and he has hired extra help for the turf reduction. The “cash for grass” rebate has covered approximately 85% of the expense, because California’s labor costs have increased over three years, but the program was a catalyst for a necessary turf reduction.  Water efficiency is the long-term goal of the golf industry, and International Golf Maintenance and Silver Lakes are taking proactive steps in conserving this precious resource. Greater water efficiency also provides financial savings over time.

IGM is a leader in comprehensive golf course maintenance services and is committed to providing high quality services that are environmentally conscious. For more information on IGM and the professional golf course services offered, please contact Greg Plotner, Executive Vice President, 407-589-7200. Additional information may be obtained by visiting IGM’s website at golfmaintenance.com.