Two years of drought and irrigation restrictions in Massachusetts severely impacted area golf courses, including IGM-maintained Widow’s Walk Golf Course in Scituate. By implementing a significant water conservation and drought recovery plan, IGM was able to preserve the greens, but other parts of the course suffered turf loss and damage by the end of the summer of 2016. The drought of 2017 was less severe but presented challenges to maintaining newly established turf.
IGM is well-known in the golf course maintenance industry for its depth of agronomic knowledge and commitment to environmental stewardship. “To restore the turf grass and playing conditions, IGM invested heavily in seed, other materials, and labor. Recommendations for an updated and more efficient irrigation system are now under discussion,” said Regional Manager Tyler Minamyer. Newer systems use less water and energy through more uniform water distribution.
Throughout the seasons of drought, IGM communicated with golfers, as well as with course management. Minamyer said, “These communications eased concerns and kept the community informed about the municipal golf course’s conditions.”
Key points that were shared included:
- The most important way to conserve water is by having healthy turf.
- All agronomic programs throughout the year help build healthy plants, which hold up better against insects, disease, and drought stress.
- Golf course irrigation systems are designed to supplement natural rainfall, not provide all the water needed to maintain healthy turf. Drought situations can make this quite noticeable.
- The irrigation system is computer-controlled, allowing the maintenance team to be precise with water use and distribution, as well as to make changes based on weather and turf needs.
- Hand watering is important, as it allows water to be applied to pinpointed areas. Hand watering is also used in light mists to cool the turf canopy and help prevent wilt.
Specific measures implemented as the drought progressed included:
- Reduced water and extended intervals between irrigation cycles to encourage the plants to stretch their roots deeper into the soil to find water.
- Increased use of specialized turf wetting agents to make water more efficient.
- Turned off irrigation to the course perimeter to help ensure water reserves would be available for greens, tees and fairways.
- Evaluated and made daily decisions on water availability.
The fall drought recovery plan included:
- Cultivation and seeding of drought impacted areas with improved types of bentgrass, ryegrass and tall fescue.
- Supplying proper nutrients to speed turf recovery and help reduce soluble salts that build up from continuous use of irrigation water.
- Servicing the recharge well that fills the irrigation pond to increase its yield and help provide sufficient water.
IGM has maintained Widows Walk Golf Course since 1999, and the contract was recently extended. IGM is proud of continuing the partnership that has earned the course numerous “top golf course” rankings, as well as designation as an Audubon International, Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
Municipally-owned Widow’s Walk Golf Course offers 18-holes adjacent to the historic North River and with views of the Atlantic Ocean. The unusual course name, and its signature hole, is reminiscent of a woman-of-old pacing her personal widow’s walk, overlooking these waters and awaiting the return of a ship carrying her long-gone husband.
IGM is a leading contractor for comprehensive golf course maintenance, and its environmental stewardship program is implemented at every client course. 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.