Whether it’s Tucson, Ariz. or Beatrice, Neb., clubs are forced to deal with a lack of rainfall and a dwindling water supply. Even those using treated water aren’t immune from the struggle. “We’re on effluent water so we don’t use groundwater, our limiting restriction is cost,” says Wally Dowe, the Director of Golf Maintenance at Ventana Canyon Golf & Racquet Club in Tucson.
Drought conditions are not exclusive to California. Clubs across the country are forced to get creative in order to maintain their golf courses to the standard members expect and demand.
In Tucson, Ariz., Wally Dowe, the Director of Golf Maintenance at Ventana Canyon Golf & Racquet Club, told KOLD he’s dealing with a dwindling water supply.
“In the summer, we’ll easily use over a million gallons of water,” Dowe said.
The club actually has two courses, so the staff uses 2 million gallons of water each day, and that number keeps rising, KOLD reported.
“We had to water more because of our lack of rainfall,” Dowe said.
Dowe has worked at Ventana Canyon course for about 25 years and told KOLD the Monsoon has become more inconsistent.
“Ten to 20 years ago you were pretty much guaranteed July 4, it would start and you would get 4 inches in July and 4 inches in August,” Dowe said. “Us being near the mountain, we would get between 12 and 14 inches of rain and last year we got 6 inches.”
Because of that inconstancy, Dowe said their water bill has skyrocketed, KOLD reported. Dowe’s not afraid of potential water restrictions, though, because of where their water comes from.
“We’re on effluent water so we don’t use groundwater, our limiting restriction is cost,” said Dowe.
Dowe told KOLD he knows the area is in a drought, so they are trying to cut back on water use.
“We’ve taken turf out that we don’t deem essential areas … we’ve removed about five to six acres,” Dowe said. “It’s small compared to the grand scheme, but every little bit helps”
Dowe also said if they stopped watering the grass the proper amount, it could permanently damage the grass and force them to use ever more water to re-grow, KOLD reported.
The Arizona Department of Water Resources said courses in Phoenix that use groundwater should reduce their total usage about 3 percent—though a group of the courses are fighting back citing that it could impact their business, KOLD reported.
Nebraska golf courses are doing their best to maintain playable conditions while battling long droughts and extreme temperatures, News Channel Nebraska reported. Beatrice (Neb.) Country Club Head Professional Owen Schuette is taking all necessary precautions to protect the players and the course.
“We’re just making sure we have enough water out on the golf course,” Schuette said. “A lot of that is sort of changed with the pandemic, we’re trying to do more bottled water as opposed to coolers.”
No matter how much golf courses irrigate their grounds, with extreme temperatures and frequent droughts, courses still can suffer without proper care, News Channel Nebraska reported.
“You can really start to see the stressed-out areas that aren’t irrigated … if it’s non-irrigated areas, it shows,” Schuette said.
Areas of southeast Nebraska saw heavy rainfall just over a week ago, with some areas seeing up to an inch of rain per hour, News Channel Nebraska reported. However, Schuette said those downpours are not ideal in conditions such as these.
“It does help, obviously, every little bit does, but the slow steady rains, every once in a while are better than the heavy down pours,” he said
In the middle of droughts, and hot weather, dry conditions lead to harder fairways which can yield more distance and make the course more playable, News Channel Nebraska reported. However, it also speeds up putting greens, making one of golf’s most challenging aspects even more difficult. This can either be good or bad, depending on what sort of event the course is holding.
“It depends. If it’s a senior tournament, we won’t want the greens rolling as fast, as they would in a U.S. Open qualifier,” Schuette said.