When it comes to water, each golf club is responsible for itself

A comment by Petra Himmel

Grass needs water. Pretty simple. Water is lacking these days 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 Germany.

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 Germany would probably be happy to get a tenth of that approved with groundwater wells.

No standards, no rules

The regulations on the subject of water are completely different throughout Europe. In Germany’s capital Berlin, some golf clubs have to report their water levels on a monthly basis, while others water normally according to their permits. In parts of France it is allowed to irrigate with groundwater, in others not. In Austria, there are actually no limits at all. In Switzerland, one or the other golf club can be found that still irrigates with drinking water.

When it comes to water, there are no standards and therefore no equity. But water is a quality issue for every golf club. 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 golf club 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.