Giving Dry a Try

Published in the July 2015 Issue Published online: Jul 18, 2015 Courses, Stories

It’s been a tough few years with hot, dry conditions throughout the Mountain West, but some locales, especially those further south, are combatting the conditions in some pretty inventive ways. Consider the tactics at Saddle Creek Resort down in Sierra Nevadas, which has implemented a creative course maintenance program to keep its customers happy.

For starters, 40 fewer acres are being irrigated today than one year ago, resulting in 50 percent less water use. This browner look has been accomplished without sacrificing overall course playability. Tactics include: removing 230 irrigation heads, reducing fairway acreage and focusing more on crucial areas (largely on outer boundaries of holes)

  • Limiting 150 sprinklers to 180-degree turns (saving 150,000 gallons per night)
  • Reducing fairways from 25 total acres to 18
  • Substituting wetting agents for watering where possible
  • Keeping “crucial” areas like tees, greens surrounds, greens and fairways healthy as possible.

Now think of YOUR home course, especially if you happen to be living in a drought-stricken area. Would you still be able to enjoy the game if the conditions became… unsightly but playable?

It’s probably worth considering just what the game means to you. Is it about a pastoral experience, like a short wilderness hike or walk in the park? Seems to us like players who play for the experience would struggle most with such sacrifices.

If you ride a cart, how willing would you be to walk instead (physical limitations aside)?

Saddle Creek solved it this way: beginning in July it’s offering $20-$30 discounts to players who agree to walk or keep carts on cart paths at all times. Management is also exploring purchase of carts that can carry four (rather than the standard two) golf bags.

Not a bad idea.