Hand watering becomes a mandatory program

The golfer is irritated: In the morning, a greenkeeper stands in front of him on the green and waters the green – by hand. And that, although the golf course only recently invested in a new irrigation system. “A pointless investment” is the golfer’s first thought, when he sees the greenkeeper watering by hand?

The opposite is the case: hand watering is part of an optimally irrigated golf course. Instead of routinely turning on the sprinkler system with its minimum of 600 sprinklers on a standard golf course in the same mode all the time, resource conservation is the order of the day as water becomes scarcer on golf courses.

Each green needs individual treatment

Parts of the green that have dry spots are watered by hand in a targeted and selective manner. “It’s a complex subject, you have to be familiar with it,” sums up Daniel Lüttger, head greenkeeper at GC St. Leon-Rot, who has many years of experience as an irrigation technician. In his opinion, the combination of expertise, the right feeling for the green and equipment with advanced irrigation technology and software ultimately leads to success. Saving water can then be reconciled with an increase in playing quality.

“The more you measure, the better you use water as a resource,” is his conclusion. The regular use of sensors, with the help of which one determines the humidity of the various green areas, is not yet standard everywhere in Germany, but is now on the rise. “We measure the moisture very regularly and then water up isolated dry spots by hand,” also sums up Heiko Hildebrandt, who manages greenkeeping on the golf courses of the German resort Öschberghof.

The following applies: custom-made hand washing is the order of the day. Too much water on a green can cause disease, cause algae and make the grasses vulnerable. Too little water results in drought stress and also declining quality.

The combination of measuring, hand watering and the right sprinkling technique only gives the best result in the end: “Here in St. Leon-Rot, we have installed significantly more sprinklers on the square over the years to increase the coverage rates,” explains Lüttger.” Individually controllable sprinklers enable the sprinklers to be precisely adjusted to specific areas.

The new technology requires the right training from the greenkeeper: “Of course, it is also important that the greenkeepers are trained in the software and pump technology,” explains Lüttger. Even the best technology is useless without the right application. However, if you master the subject, you will get a lot: Billing of water quantities to the second is just as possible today as individual control of sprinklers. A greenkeeper with a lot of experience, who knows his greens well and has their moisture requirements under control, can save water and thus costs on the one hand, but also significantly increase their quality on the other hand, because he can quickly identify dry spots.

More work but better quality

Hand washing may look like an outdated and antiquated process for the golfer on his round – but exactly the opposite is the case. Hand watering is standard on all top facilities worldwide. Personalization is the recipe for success. Every green needs its own special treatment. This is laborious and takes time. “But it’s worth it,” Lüttger sums up. “We save the time on other areas that are far less important and are then no longer watered.”