Solheim Cup place Finca Cortesin receives water certification

Times have changed: Just ten years ago, Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup courses were all about course lengths, stimpmeter or the number of bunkers. In the meantime, the topics have become more diverse. In a country like Spain, including in the coastal region of Marbella with its numerous golf courses, water scarcity has long been a hotly debated topic in the media.

This is one of the reasons why water consumption is also an issue at a major event such as the Solheim Cup, which will take place in Finca Cortesin from September 18 to 24, 2023. After all, the water levels in the La Concepcion reservoir – the most important reservoir for the entire Marbella region – and in other water reservoirs in the municipalities of Estepona, Manilva and Casares were so low in 2018 that the state water supplier Alcosol had water imported.

Even high-end golf courses have to conserve water

Finca Cortesin has become proactive with regard to possible discussions about the topic and addresses the water management on a high-end golf course. As the first Spanish golf course, Finca Cortesin has now been awarded for its sustainable water management by Alcosol .

In the course of the interview with Course Manager Ignacio Soto, it quickly becomes clear that a form of irrigation equipment as used here is only be available to a limited extent on the classic average course with limited financial resources. But it is also clear that even in the top segment of the golf industry, the topic of water has long been a focus and is unavoidable.

What is the ACOSOL certification? How does it work and what is the significance of it for Finca Cortesin?
Soto: It is a recognition that is very important to us. According to Acosol, the certification highlights the value of efficient water management, which in this case refers to regenerated water. To obtain the certification, we have had to meet a series of requirements that are included in a protocol developed by the company Xtratega and compromises of a very simple methodology.
This achievement is very significant for Finca Cortesin, as we have been irrigating the golf courses hand-in-hand with Acosol since the beginning, more than 15 years ago, and it fills us with great satisfaction that we can become a leading example for other golf courses in the region to follow suit.

In respect of recycled water management, how does this work in practice at Finca Cortesin? How is the water recycled, where is it recycled, and how is it delivered?
Soto: The water that is used for irrigation on the golf course is regenerated in the main recycled water plant of the town of Manilva. Once the water has been regenerated through the plant, it is then pumped through more than 5 km of pipes, installed by Finca Cortesin before the development was started, to the resort, where it is stored ahead of use on the golf course.

What does the current irrigation setup look like for Finca Cortesin? 
Soto: We currently have the highest quality irrigation technology from Toro installed across the golf course. Our team uses the latest version of Toro Lynx to control around 1800 sprinkler heads that are distributed within 23 satellites around the golf course.The resort also has its own weather station that allows us to monitor the daily climate and plan in advance how much irrigation is needed on a daily basis. The exact amount of water needed across the golf course is carefully managed and the requirements are based on daily evapotranspiration.

Is the rough on the golf course irrigated too?
Yes, the rough on the golf course is also carefully irrigated according to our agronomy team’s daily plan. The golf course covers a total of 40 hectares, including grass found in the rough, whilst there is also an additional 10 hectares of natural areas of the native landscape that are not irrigated to allow local species of flora and fauna to develop.

How many m³ of water are typically used over the year? How much has this been reduced over the last 10 years?
This all depends on the climate that we have experienced during this period. The amount of water used has been considerably reduced since we renovated our greens and changed the type of grass species to warm-season grass.
The key factor for us is to maintain species of grasses that are 100% adapted to the general climate that we experience throughout the year in the region. Since we started this project, our team has managed to reduce water consumption by 25% on an annual basis.

How is the water collected in the first place, from streets and roofs or wells etc.?
The water is collected from the town of Manilva. The majority of the water that is regenerated comes from the houses and industries that can be found in the town. Once the water has been collected, it is sent to the plant, where it is treated and sent through the regeneration process before being recycled and pumped to the golf course through 5km of specifically made pipes.
What sort of measures has Finca Cortesin taken to reduce the amount of water?
Apart from the wall-to-wall warm season Bermuda grasses we use at Finca Cortesin, we rely on the latest technology from our irrigation system, weather station and POGO technology. All combined, this provides us with the data to ensure we minimise all water usage and use only the required amount.

Why is it important that Finca Cortesin tries to limit the amount of water it uses and that the water it uses comes from recycled sources?
We understand water is a precious resource, not just in Southern Spain, but everywhere in the world. This means we are always looking for ways to minimise the water we use and be as efficient as we can possibly be. We are very fortunate to have 100% recycled water provided by Acosol that ensures we are not using other sources of water. We have also done a lot of work on the rainwater collection drainages across the entire resort, to ensure we can direct this water towards our irrigation lakes for future use as well.