Golf Industry Meets in SoCal, Discusses Water Conservation and Pace of Play

By Michelle Krasodomski

The Southern California chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) hosted its annual Regional Green Conference this week at Tustin Ranch Golf Club. The conference brought together members of the GCSAA, SCPGA and CMAA as well as guests from the USGA and SCGA to discuss pace of play, course set up, Rules of Golf and turf management.

Water continues to be a major issue for Southern California courses, with most facing four dilemmas: the status of imported water supplies, escalating water costs, the future of recycled water and the future use of groundwater.

Turfgrass Specialist Mike Huck explained that “when the situation of California’s water problems hits the Wall Street Journal, you know it’s pretty serious.” And it did hit the Journal earlier this month, explaining the severity California’s extreme drought. Huck continued to talk about the state’s low reservoir levels and that many entities in Southern California are working towards solutions to combat the problem.

Craig Kessler, SCGA director of governmental affairs, was on-hand to speak to the group about the water conservation task forces created in Los Angeles, San Diego and the Coachella Valley, bringing together local experts on the topic of water conservation. He highlighted the Los Angeles water task force, which has seen tremendous improvement over the past four years, with 35 courses using 23.7 percent less water. The SCGA has been instrumental in the creation and development of these task forces.

The USGA is also making an effort to provide the necessary resources to golf courses and operators, superintendents, task forces and golf associations about water conservation. For more information, visit usga.org/water.

The conference also addressed pace of play, a major industry topic throughout golf in 2013, with initiatives launched by both the SCGA and USGA to help speed up the game. Brian Whitlark, agronomist for the USGA Green Section – Southwest Region, emphasized that course set up directly impacts pace of play, explaining that yardage is the number one contributor to golf course difficulty. He noted that courses must give the player the advantage, especially on the teeing ground.

“Courses should attract the average golfers,” stated Whitlark. “They need to accommodate the bogey golfers, juniors and especially those seniors who play every day by properly maintaining the tee box for each set of tees.”

Whitlark focused on how courses can assist in improving pace, but organizations including the SCGA, SCPGA and USGA have made additional efforts to solve the issue by targeting the individual golfer and providing an educational awareness campaign.

The GCSAA and USGA will continue working and reporting on the water and pace of play, hoping to continue to build knowledge within the golf industry.

For more information on the Southern California chapter of the GCSAA, click here.


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