Unfortunately, Winter is Right Around the Corner
The 2018 season is winding down, and what a great year we had from mother nature. Year to date Spearfish has received 26 inches of rain, compared to 2017 when Spearfish had a total of 20 inches of rain.
To put this in context, our total irrigation water usage in 2018 was 23 million gallons of water. In 2017 SCGC used 33 million gallons of water, and in 2016 SCGC used 45 million gallons of water. Now Mother Nature plays a big part in helping us reduce our water totals, but SCGC has been actively implementing new irrigation technologies over the last 5 years. We’ve updated our computer software on our central control system, added our own weather station, and buried sensors in the greens on #3, #16 and #18, while also completing an irrigation audit in 2017. With a combination of Mother Nature and our new irrigation technologies, this equates to 30% reduction in water compared to 2017 and a 51% reduction in water compared to 2016.
You might be asking yourself: How does this help our golf course when we don’t have to pay for our irrigation water? The simple answer is that we pay thousands of dollars in electricity to run our two pump houses. Every night we water, it costs on average $275 in electricity. Not only does reducing our water usage save money it helps improve playing conditions with firmer drier turfgrass for a better golf experience.
With winter fast approaching, I wanted to give some insight on the work being put in, so our beautiful golf course survives the South Dakota winter. Fall is a very important time of year for our maintenance department. We have already completed our fall aeration program on tees and greens. But in the coming weeks, SCGC maintenance still must apply winter fungicides on greens, tees, and fairways to reduce risk of grey and pink snow mold. We’ll apply a final heavy sand topdressing to greens to add a layer of protection from our cold northern winds. We’ll also install pallets in bunkers to reduce the amount of sand blown away. On #6 and #8 greens, we’ll stake down a heavy tarp. And most important, we’ll be blowing out our irrigation system, which is very laborious, taking 3 days to complete. My best guess is we blow out roughly 500,000 gallons of water. This shows how many miles of irrigation pipe and mainlines we have buried under ground.
Now that fall is behind us and winter has come, this does not mean the maintenance department stops working. The maintenance department has plenty of work to do. We service the entire fleet of mowers: greens, tees, fairway, and rough mowers, etc. We sharpen all our reel mowers in house, which a lot of golf courses in South Dakota do not do. We work on building improvements in the clubhouse and our maintenance buildings. We trim and or remove trees as the weather permits. We’ll hand-water greens if Mother Nature does not give us moisture. The maintenance department is also in charge of winter snow removal around the clubhouse and maintenance buildings. We also prepare for the upcoming season with early orders of fertilizer, pesticide, irrigation and golf course supplies. Continuing education is also completed in the winter months, so we can stay up to date with the latest methods in turf agronomic practices and University recommendations to keep SCGC in the best conditions possible.
I hope this gives you some more insight into the busy, sometimes hectic, but always rewarding SCGC maintenance department. Cheers to a great 2018 season!!!!!!!