Road Hole Shorts

Golf Design, golf, golf, GOLF

Is Purple Gold the answer to our water future?

I absolutely abhor that Christ­mas has become the “what do you want” holiday, but I’m not above using it to intro­duce my article this week.

I want a world that is at peace and especially one that isn’t fighting about our natural re­sources. Black gold is a familiar moniker for oil, which has been a resource that has increasingly sparked diplomatic unrest, con­flicts and yes, even wars. Oil will probably continue to be highly valued and therefore the continued subject of clashes, but another resource, some­times referred to as “blue gold,” is rushing to the fore as reason for conflict.

Water isn’t far behind oil as a valuable commodity. As we have seen here in the south­west, water is the subject of strong ideas and even stronger emotions. In our lifetime, water has gone from being plentiful to being the subject of extensive conservation efforts. In most restaurants today, you get a glass of water only if you re­quest it. But I suppose we can at least be thankful that it’s still “free,” at least in restaurants.

Here in New Mexico, we’re in a judicial war with Texas over Rio Grande water rights. All over the world, the use of water for golf courses is coming un­der greater scrutiny. Here in Las Cruces, only NMSU and the newly opened Red Hawk do not use recycled water, often al­so referred to as effluent or re­claimed water. Purple Gold (for the color of piping and other components that deliver recy­cled water) is often touted as the answer. Sonoma Ranch Golf Club uses about 30 percent, while the remaining 70 percent is from their own well. I believe Picacho irrigates with a much higher percentage of recycled water, but exact figures are un­available due to current litiga­tion. As development spreads to the northeast, and recycled water becomes available to them, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Red Hawk begin to accept recycled water as well. Because NMSU’s course is bermuda­grass and dormant for a good part of the year, it isn’t a good candidate for recycled water because the system requires that the recipient have a rea­sonably constant usage.

According to Dr. M. Ali, Hari­vand, an area extension special­ist at the University of Califor­nia Cooperative Extension, turf­grass is particularly well suited to irrigation with recycled wa­ter. Among landscape plants, turfgrasses can absorb relative­ly large amounts of nitrogen and other nutrients often found in large quantities in recycled water. This characteristic may greatly decrease the odds of groundwater contamination from its use. Equally important, cool season turfgrass plantings are generally permanent and their growth is continuous. This provides a stable need for con­tinuously produced recycled water. Presently, most of the turfgrass irrigated with recycled water grows on golf courses.

However, recycled water irriga­tion is increasing on sports fields, in parks, on many indus­trial and institutional land­scapes, and on sod production farms.

However, heavy use of recy­cled water poses persistent and sometimes complicated prob­lems for golf course superin­tendents. It’s not the utopia for golf courses that Dr. Harivand projects. High level of soluble salts and nitrogen, among other elements require a whole new cultural management approach.

And the water source isn’t the only problem, because different soils react differently to recy­cled water chemistries.  The use of recycled water is growing, and our city has taken steps to encourage that use with long range plans that are periodically updated. In Sep­tember 2010, Sonoma Ranch Golf Course began using terti­ary treated water from the City’s Reclamation Plant on the East Mesa which is one compo­nent in the City’s long range water reclamation plan. Ac­cording to golf course Superin­tendent Mike Kirkpatrick, nitro­gen levels in the reclaimed wa­ter reduced their fertilization expenditures by about 25 per­cent. However, the reclaimed water is more expensive and ul­timately they have seen no bot­tom-line savings. The water reclamation plans target golf courses and parks as the recipi­ents of the tertiary water. My personal observation is that conditions at Sonoma Ranch suffered for some time as Mike became accustomed to the change in water chemistry. In the past few months, the course has improved significantly.

By the way, a team of re­searchers from China’s Donghua University have de­veloped a fabric that “cleans” it­self when exposed to sunlight.  The key component is titanium oxide, which is commonly found in white paint, some foods and sunscreen. When it is exposed to certain types of light, it kills microbes and breaks down dirt. Imagine that, never having to launder your golf attire!

• “Did sexism cost Tseng Golf Magazine’s Player of the Year award, Whan asks” was Emily Kay’s headline in the on­line magazine “Waggleroom” last week. She and many others have questioned Golf Maga­zine’s selection of Rory McIlroy as “Player of the Year” for 2011.

Michael Whan has taken up the cause – and he should have started it – by pressuring Golf’s editors to explain. Whan ac­knowledges that McIlroy is “a fantastic global ambassador of golf,” but he says he wonders if sexism was a factor.

It’s hard to argue with Yani’s results — 12 wins world-wide and two of her five majors in 2011. She’s the youngest — male or female — to win five majors. Rory won the U.S. Open, and only totaled two wins all year.  Add to that his collapse at the Master’s and it’s hard to see how Tseng isn’t a better choice. In view of Luke Donald’s achievement of being the lead­ing money winner in both the PGA and European tours, I’m not even certain Rory is the best male player.

“You have to ask yourself one question,” Whan said. “If Yani’s 2011 season had been achieved by a man, would you have come to the same conclusion on the 2011 Golf Magazine Play­er of the Year?” Whan sarcastically answered his own question with, “I think we all know the answer to that.” • Annika returns to competi­tive golf: If you’re an Annika Sorenstam fan, be sure to check out the ADT Skills Challenge this weekend (scheduled for 4-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday). An­nika teams with spunky Morgan Pressel to take on the men’s teams of Nick Faldo and Rocco Mediate; Zach Johnson and Jer­ry Kelly; and Mark O’Meara and Nick Price. The four teams square off for the $800,000 prize money. The event is being played at The Breakers in Palm Beach Florida, on their Ocean Course. Morgan Pressel lives only a short distance away. I’ve seen Morgan in one of these things before and she really en­joyed trash talking the guys. It should be a fun take.

This is the first time in ADT Skills Challenge history that two women will form a team, but the “reverse scramble” is back again as the final skill chal­lenge to provide a dramatic conclusion.

A golf architect in New Hamp­shire for over 20 years, Arm­strong brought her craft to Las Cruces in January 2010. She is the founder of Armstrong Golf Architects and is executive direc­tor for the Rio Grande Golf Course Superintendents Associa­tion. You can comment on her writing and view past articles at her blog: http://road holeshorts17.wordpress.com/.

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