In response to a 2014 mandate to reduce water use by 35%, the Copperopolis, Calif., property has shut off 450 irrigation heads, limited 350 sprinklers to 180-degree turns, and substituted wetting agents for water when possible. Forty fewer acres of rough are being irrigated, while another 10-15 acres farther away from playing corridors have been returned to a native state.
Saddle Creek Resort in Copperopolis, Calif., is building on its water mitigation program. What began as a response to 2014’s mandate from local authorities to reduce water use by 35% has become a golf course calling card embraced by staff and guests alike.
Since implementing a series of modifications to its agronomic practices—including shutting off 450 irrigation heads, limiting 350 sprinklers to 180-degree turns and substituting wetting agents for water when possible—Saddle Creek has saved nearly 70 million gallons of water.
Forty fewer acres of rough are being irrigated, while another 10-15 acres farther away from playing corridors have been returned to a native state dominated by long grasses. With General Manager Rick Morgan and superintendent Pat Smyth leading the charge, these changes have not sacrificed course conditioning while saving the resort more than 10% on water, fuel, fertilizer and other maintenance costs.
“Our team met the challenge of the mandated water restrictions head on,” said Morgan. “We’re so proud of what we’ve achieved, taking an initially negative situation and turning it into an overwhelming positive for our guests, our budget and, most importantly, the environment.”
Firm and fast conditions through the green have been embraced by Saddle Creek players as tee shots now tend to roll for extra yardage.
“Our guests understand what we’re doing and really like it,” said Smyth. “Even if water restrictions are lifted, we plan to maintain our current levels of use as it’s simply the right thing to do.”
“We’ve taken a great course and, by being responsible environmental stewards, made it even better,” said Morgan. “We hope to be a model for other courses and show that prioritizing sustainability is a ‘win win’ for everyone on a whole host of fronts.”