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Ally Mcintosh

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GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« on: May 17, 2022, 04:29:02 PM »
“Irrigating fairways means the course won’t play as firm and fast as it might.”


Truth or myth?

Mark Mammel

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2022, 05:07:02 PM »
Usually FALSE though it depends on where the fairway is. In the USA there are plenty of fairways that would play firmer and faster without irrigation because the grass would be dead.
So much golf to play, so little time....

Mark

Mark_Fine

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2022, 05:43:15 PM »
Last I checked - ALL grass needs water supplied artificially or from Mother Nature or it will die.  It is just a question of how much :)


So of course false. 

Sean_A

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2022, 02:30:45 AM »
“Irrigating fairways means the course won’t play as firm and fast as it might.”

Truth or myth?

I tend to agree. Although, without much rain at some point some clubs will leave the grass longer. So the course could well be extremely firm, but not play as fast. Generally though, if water can be switched on I think supers play it a bit safe. I mean, who keeps their course on a knife edge between ultra f&f and in danger of dying? Mind you, some clubs let their grass die a few years ago during the drought rather than water their way through the period.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Bamburgh Castle, Erewash, Gullane 2, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South & Crystal Downs

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2022, 02:44:35 AM »
Yes, I agree that it gets played safe too often, Sean. But there’s a perception out there - with fescue anyway - that installing irrigation will slow down the course. Where actually proper application should promote healthy turf that can in turn play firmer and faster.


Be interesting to hear from some links course managers / keepers on this one. I’d love to dig in to the science of irrigation a bit more.

Thomas Dai

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2022, 03:20:40 AM »
My perception is true. For example, irrigated approaches seem to have changed the playability particularly of links and heathland courses. Shots played to land short, bounce and roll onto the green now grab and stop short or merely trickle onto the front edge, even more so if a high spin ball is used.
atb

Sean_A

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2022, 03:35:08 AM »
Yes, I agree that it gets played safe too often, Sean. But there’s a perception out there - with fescue anyway - that installing irrigation will slow down the course. Where actually proper application should promote healthy turf that can in turn play firmer and faster.


Be interesting to hear from some links course managers / keepers on this one. I’d love to dig in to the science of irrigation a bit more.

There's the rub, proper application. There is also the question of the level of f&f. I took your original question to be near max f&f. You rarely get that in irrigated fairways,which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

What bothers me more is the trend toward ever shorter fairway heights. I don't see the point. If a course is firm higher cut heights were always fine. It just seems like we are asking for too much. Golf year round, some carts, more summer rounds and all on stressed grass. The issue is so ridiculous that artificial grass and mats are used as solutions.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Bamburgh Castle, Erewash, Gullane 2, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South & Crystal Downs

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2022, 03:39:12 AM »
My perception is true. For example, irrigated approaches seem to have changed the playability particularly of links and heathland courses. Shots played to land short, bounce and roll onto the green now grab and stop short or merely trickle onto the front edge, even more so if a high spin ball is used.
atb


Is that just on the courses where it has been played “too safe” to use Sean’s words?


Digging in to my memory banks (although please excuse me for saying they don’t go quite as far back as yours!), I reckon non-irrigated links courses of my youth played like rock for part of the year (although often with unpredictable slow spots in low areas) but also slower outside the summer months…  could be wrong though! Memory is good at playing tricks. Also changes could be as much to do with other aspects of turf management.

Sean_A

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2022, 04:04:52 AM »
Ally

I don't mean to be flippant about playing it safe. Supers are in a tough spot between serving the members, dealing with weather, trying to create their personal ideal conditions and the health of the grass. If shit hits the fan and water was the solution, a super with irrigation and the budget to flip the switch doesn't have much of a come back. It's a hard job. It's rare to come across courses without fairway irrigation which consistently compete with well managed irrigated fairways.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Bamburgh Castle, Erewash, Gullane 2, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South & Crystal Downs

Kyle Harris

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2022, 05:50:21 AM »
Myth.

Irrigation isn't some mindless thing. You don't have to use it.
http://kylewharris.com

Constantly blamed by 8-handicaps for their 7 missed 12-footers each round.

Anthony_Nysse

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2022, 06:19:13 AM »
Myth.

Irrigation isn't some mindless thing. You don't have to use it.


I would think it would be pretty difficult to grow in a golf course, especially from seed or sprig, without it.


Also, are wetting agents in this discussion? I know a few that you can spray, water in a night & the surfaces are firmer the next morning.
Anthony J. Nysse
Director of Golf Course & Grounds
Mountain Lake
Lake Wales, FL

Thomas Dai

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2022, 07:07:59 AM »
Is that just on the courses where it has been played “too safe” to use Sean’s words?
Digging in to my memory banks (although please excuse me for saying they don’t go quite as far back as yours!), I reckon non-irrigated links courses of my youth played like rock for part of the year (although often with unpredictable slow spots in low areas) but also slower outside the summer months…  could be wrong though! Memory is good at playing tricks. Also changes could be as much to do with other aspects of turf management.
Fair chance in some instances it could well be a 'play safe' option. Modern day club members do seem to like the colour green and expect it as well.
In the far reaches of my memory are indeed instances of links playing like rock for part of the year, heathlands, moorlands, downlands and parklands as well, indeed I recall parklands on clay with cracks in the fairways and the time the Govt had a Minister for Drought (no watering golf courses allowed!). Recall summer parched humps and green hollows too. Don't recall slower at other times though although height of cut might be different. Variety can be fun though.
atb

John Chilver-Stainer

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2022, 10:54:58 AM »
Certainly Irrigation has lead to an enhanced standard of "green".
Ancient links courses which had fine fescues for years and lived through occasional droughts can now be watered on a nightly basis.


As a result the soil profile can be kept moist permanently, usually recommended at 15 to 20 per cent.


The fine fescues which are an important aspect of links golf (non lush,  lignaeous thatch, low height of cut) can develop very deep roots of 2 feet or more when searching for a moisture source, are reputed to have good drought tolerant characteristics.


However when the moisture is available at the top of the soil profile the fine Fescue roots do not need to go deep and remain near the surface.


Due to the moisture content at the top of the soil profile, surface-rooting grasses, particularly Poa Annua, can establish.


When the extremely high temperatures arrive in midsummer the upper surface
of the soil profile dries out in the midday sun (when the irrigation is switched off for the golfers) and the grasses go brown.


This would be followed by overwatering, which the fine fescues can not endure.


As a result - destruction of the fine Fescues and the substitution with lush grasses.


How is this possible? Fine Fescues are supposed to be drought tolerant


The fine Fescue grass were destroyed, not by the drought, but by a combination of their low resistance when the roots are near the surface and by the overwatering.


In order to allow the fine Fescues to achieve their drought tolerant characteristics they must develop deep roots by a contolled "starvation"  of the soil of profile.


However during controlled "starvation" the fine Fescues will turn to a faded green or even a straw colour and Poa Annua will die.


This faded green and is too much for the sensibilities of some golfers. After their game, the "lack of green" then gets negative comment by the golfers on the terrace, some more influential, than others. The critic is then conveyed to the managers and committee members who then quiz the head greenkeeper.


So the irrigation goes back on.


It requires a good understanding  of Fescues of not only the Head Greenkeeper but also the leaders in the Club House to impose and defend a "Starvation" regime against the "lovers of green".


Last year I played all the links courses between Connemara and Ballyliffin in August/September and some were greener than others.
The difference of green Enniscrone and straw like Ross's Point was noticible.


I'm sure Ali can provide a better comment.


So irrigation has generally not been good news for fine Fescues and thus the ground game. Hopefully the exceptions may help to prove the rule of the "Starvation" practise.














Mark_Fine

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2022, 11:40:23 AM »
It may have already been said, but a slightly stressed plant will send it roots deeper vs a plant that is overwatered.  The stressed plant as such is much healthier (and likely plays much firmer and faster).


One of the advantages of modern irrigation systems is supers can control exactly how much water they use and where.  If they want one dry spot watered they can turn on one head and spray only that spot for as little or long as they want.  On older systems, that wasn’t possible and entire areas that didn’t need water would get watered.  The only option was a quick coupler system and hand watering which some supers still do. 

archie_struthers

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2022, 09:59:37 PM »
 8) ;D


In my perfect world there would be less irrigation heads and some of the best employees manning the hoses off the quick couplers .   Especially around all the greens!
« Last Edit: May 19, 2022, 11:56:46 PM by archie_struthers »

Tom_Doak

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2022, 09:41:31 AM »
8) ;D


In my perfect world there would be less irrigation heads and some of the best employees manning the hoses off the quick couplers .   Especially around all the greens!


When the R & A insisted that Muirfield install a fairway irrigation system [one row - early 1970's], the club obliged, but the superintendent did not put in automatic irrigation around the greens, because the R & A hadn't required it.  His rationale was that his employees were a lot less likely to overwater a green if they had to stand there with a hose in hand to do it.

Thomas Dai

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2022, 12:10:05 PM »
8) ;D
In my perfect world there would be less irrigation heads and some of the best employees manning the hoses off the quick couplers .   Especially around all the greens!
When the R & A insisted that Muirfield install a fairway irrigation system [one row - early 1970's], the club obliged, but the superintendent did not put in automatic irrigation around the greens, because the R & A hadn't required it.  His rationale was that his employees were a lot less likely to overwater a green if they had to stand there with a hose in hand to do it.
Sounds like a perceptive Head Greenkeeper.
Sometimes less, as in a restriction of some kind, can be helpful. Like a limited abstraction licence in comparison to a more relaxed one.
I recall a links course very highly regarded by posters herein who overwatered their greens with their new irrigation system and after a while and for years afterwards had soft, spongy putting surfaces and spent a long period afterwards removing thatch.
Atb


PS - fine post by JCS above.

Garland Bayley

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2022, 01:10:28 AM »
Of course irrigating the fairways means a course won't play as fast as it might.

A course in Oregon famously didn't have irrigation until long after most courses did. It had a reputation as being very fast and firm. That reputation was established during summer sojourns, as opposed to rainy winter slogs. The rainy (naturally irrigated) winters slowed down the fairways enough that there would be significant pock marks with little roll when your drive landed, and the occasional embedded ball.
"I enjoy a course where the challenges are contained WITHIN it, and recovery is part of the game  not a course where the challenge is to stay ON it." Jeff Warne

Alan FitzGerald MG

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2022, 06:55:05 AM »
8) ;D


In my perfect world there would be less irrigation heads and some of the best employees manning the hoses off the quick couplers .   Especially around all the greens!


Archie - I wonder who could have taught you that :P  Unfortunately the biggest issue these days is finding the labor willing to drag a hose.



JCSs post above is great. You can also insert creeping bentgrass into the same one instead of fescue and it would read the same. The problem is it's easier to do in some climates than others. I always joke that grass doesn't want to die (unless it's poa) and it will go dormant to protect itself if it gets too hot. I've found over the year that if healthy turf goes dormant due to drought stress, the worst thing to do is to try and bring (nurse) it back as inevitably it cannot handle the constant back and forth of going dormant, trying to come back, going dormant etc so it dies. Therefore its either or, live with the brown or stay on the safer side - which 90% of the time is what the customer wants - and keep it green.


As Tony mentioned, wetting agents are a great tool to help balance this by making soil water more available to the plants so there is less reliance on irrigation, while they somewhat magically (ok, depending on their chemical make up) can also help draw water away from the surface.

So to answer Allys question. Technically True - if it's overdone, but any greenkeeper worth their salt will avoid that as it can cause other issues, so in reality its false for most situations.

« Last Edit: May 24, 2022, 06:08:23 AM by Alan FitzGerald MG »
Golf construction & maintenance are like creating a masterpiece; Da Vinci didn't paint the Mona Lisa's eyes first..... You start with the backdrop, layer on the detail and fine tune the finished product into a masterpiece

archie_struthers

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2022, 12:50:51 PM »
 8)




To Tom , Thomas and Alan in the immortal words of Austin Powers...yeah baby!


Alan he really knew how to water, maybe the GOAT

Alan FitzGerald MG

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Re: GCA Mythbusters 2: Irrigation
« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2022, 06:12:37 AM »

Alan he really knew how to water, maybe the GOAT


Few would disagree on either!



Golf construction & maintenance are like creating a masterpiece; Da Vinci didn't paint the Mona Lisa's eyes first..... You start with the backdrop, layer on the detail and fine tune the finished product into a masterpiece

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