“When it comes to water, each golf club is responsible for itself”
A comment by Petra Himmel
Water is the resource without which the grass can not. Water is lacking these days, not only in Germany, but in many parts of Europe. In fact, it has been lacking in more and more corners of the world for years. Saving water is therefore one of the top issues – in the USA as well as in Spain, Portugal or even in Frankfurt or Hamburg. In a letter to golf courses this week, the DGV Irrigation Working Group points out that this could mean “that in the event of regional water shortages, the irrigation of sports turf areas will be prohibited by the authorities, as is already the case in some neighboring European countries.”
Each golf course has different quantities available
Which brings us to a topic that excites many a club president or general manager: There are neither uniform water withdrawal regulations nor generally applicable regulations for the application of water – not nationally and certainly not internationally. In international terms, this means that a top golf facility in Nevada, USA, can report a water consumption of 700,000 m³ as a major step forward in water conservation, while a golf facility in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, would probably be happy to get approval for a tenth of that with groundwater wells.
No standards, no rules
The regulations on the subject of water are completely different throughout Europe and also in Germany. In Berlin, some plants have to report their water levels to the groundwater on a monthly basis, while others water normally according to their permits. In Hesse, some facilities are prohibited from drawing water from flowing surface water, i.e. streams and ponds, while others look to the municipal water traffic light to decide their water fate. In Germany, there are golf courses that can draw unlimited amounts of water from lakes, and others try to carefully irrigate tees and greens with 20,000 cubic meters a year.
When it comes to water, there are no standards and therefore no equity. Water is a quality issue. Those who get water and use it carefully can avoid bare spots and expensive reseeding, recruit members more easily and have more green fee guests. Today’s golfers asking about golf club membership should also ask about the club’s water permit and water supply. Or according to the concepts of providing recycled water or rainwater.
Each plant is self-responsible
Water is a quality issue, a competition issue, an existential issue – not just for the grass on the fairway, but for the entire golf course.
Calls for association solutions and government regulations are coming to nothing. Decisions about their water are made by municipalities, counties and local water authorities. This makes water management an individual issue for a golf facility. Here, it can shine by making its site design water efficient, optimizing irrigation, training staff, collecting water, converting to sewer water, and, and, and.
In search of individual solutions
The possible solutions are as varied as the golf courses. There is no one solution for everyone. Just as there is no one climate for all. Weather is just unfair: here it rains more, here less. Here it gets brown on the fairways, there it doesn’t. There is little point in complaining about it.
These external circumstances will not change. The only people who can change are the golfers and those responsible for the golf course in their handling of water. If they do not, the problem becomes serious. And sometimes existential.