Just got back from attending the Golf Industry Show and as always it has me excited to start to the season. So too does this nice weather!!
The biggest takeaway from the education sessions I attended was that the old way of doing things is now the new way! Golf experienced great growth in the 80s and 90s and maintenance budgets were flush. The level of maintenance and "extras" zoomed skyward and it became an arms race in conditioning. Then 9/11 happened, the economy dipped, and supply overtook demand in the golf market. Maintenance budgets leveled or constricted causing much angst among superintendents. But in reality this reduction in resources might actually be a good thing. Staffs have been reduced making prioritization critical to success. "Fluff" outside of the playing surfaces is no longer a high priority. Fertilizer and chemical applications are more scrutinized and watering practices are more conservative. These thing together have a positive impact on protecting the environment.
I never liked the idea of over maintaining a course so it is refreshing to see many courses reverting to amore conservative style of maintenance before the golf boom. Obviously there is a sliding scale of maintenance from Augusta to the local 9-holer, but overall sustainability is the buzzword.
Wild Horse was built before sustainable became the buzzword in golf course maintenance but we have done many things that help it stay that way. What are some of those ideals? First and foremost is that the soil is great and we were able to build push-up greens thereby eliminating internal drainage and a special greens soil mix that might need to be replaced someday. Also this allows us a never-ending supply of free topdressing. Secondly the emphasis was on the playing corridors and the rest was left natural. Therefore we can concentrate our irrigation and agronomic practices on the playing surfaces. Also the climate helps keep pesticide inputs especially fungicides to a minimum. So Wild Horse has some built-in features that make it sustainable but we compliment those with our maintenance practices. Our turf is kept lean and fertilized only to satisfy its needs. Irrigation is used only to replenish evapotranspiration. We try to run a lean crew also to keep our labor costs down. All of these things make us "sustainable" which simply means that our resources i.e. water, fertilizer, pesticides, equipment, and money will not run out during Wild Horse's existence and the environment will continue to support our golfing grounds.