What would you do if record drought forced your course to significantly cut water usage? That’s the challenge California golf courses are facing right now. Conditions are so critical, Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency in January. In April, he ordered a 25 percent reduction in water usage statewide. This is the fourth consecutive year of drought in California. And it’s one of the most severe droughts on record.

The mandatory water cutback is California’s first, and it affects golf courses throughout the state. The good news: Many of these courses are already practicing responsible water management. They provide some great examples for others looking to save water — even in areas where it isn’t mandated.

Here are some strategies California golf courses are using to save water while still maintaining optimal playing conditions:

They use state-of-the-art computerized irrigation control systems.

Products like Toro’s Lynx® Central Control Software help superintendents apply water to their course with precision. Some Toro systems even allow courses to control irrigation watering times down to the second. These systems are often used with an integrated weather station, pump station and wireless soil sensors to deliver the conditions players expect with as little water as possible.


They make watering decisions based on weather and soil conditions.

Many courses already make watering decisions based on how weather and sun exposure affects turf and plant health (Evapotranspiration or “ET”). Courses like Ocean Hills Country Club in Oceanside, Calif., also use Toro’s Turf Guard® wireless soil sensing technology to monitor what’s happening beneath the surface. Turf Guard sensors measure soil moisture, salinity and temperature to help courses determine which areas need water and which don’t.

“Our Turf Guard system is a powerful addition to ET. The sensor data provides feedback from multiple locations on the golf course, allowing me to adjust watering to match the specific requirements of every green, tee and fairway.” — Tom Hogan, Ocean Hills Country Club Landscape Operations Director


They replace older sprinklers for better control.

By upgrading older sprinklers to today’s models, courses can significantly reduce water use without sacrificing playing conditions. For example, Toro golf sprinklers deliver superior nozzle options and adjustment capabilities to apply water precisely where it is needed. They can be switched from watering a full-circle pattern to watering a part-circle pattern with a quick adjustment. This, for example, can help courses quickly and easily stop watering roughs when necessary, but keep watering fairways.


They plan renovations based on real-time course data.

Toro’s PrecisionSense™ technology has helped courses like Poppy Hills Golf Course in Monterey, Calif., measure key soil and turf health attributes. The technology also shows course managers what happens to irrigation water after it’s applied to the soil. Courses use real-time PrecisionSense data to identify areas for improvement, as well as verifying water and resource efficiency once the updates have been made.

“Using Toro products helped us quickly achieve our water savings goals and improve course conditions overall. We are well positioned to help the state achieve 25 percent water savings going forward.” — Matt Muhlenbruch, Poppy Hills Superintendent

They look for other ways to manage water use.

This could mean selecting turf grasses that are more drought resistant. Or it could mean working with a knowledgeable irrigation consultant to identify key improvements. Some golf courses are even undertaking turf removal projects to replace grass that is out of play with other solutions such as desert landscapes or drought-tolerant plants. (This typically also requires some irrigation system changes.)

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As the California drought continues to make headlines, it’s natural to start thinking about how your course can use water more efficiently. After all, using less water reduces costs. It helps conserve a scarce resource. And it’s part of practicing good stewardship of the environment.

Find out how Toro irrigation products can help you save water and costs on your golf course. Ask your local Toro distributor or visit Toro.com/Golf.