Water management is more than just a new reservoir

How does golf course architecture deal with the topic of water? One thing is certain – this topic has long developed into a core point of considerations in the field of golf course design. One thing is clear: While in Germany, Switzerland, Austria or other countries of central continental Europe the water issue has only recently been hotly debated, it has long been an issue in international Golfcourse design. Whether in Arizona or San Diego – the consumption of water has been under discussion here for decades. Whether in Mallorca or Marbella – in Spain, the water supply has been highly regulated for years.

An example: The top golf course Son Gual completed in 2007 by Himmel Golf Design has worked with sewage water from the very beginning. An own final water treatment plant and reverse osmosis on the golf course ensures the perfect condition of the water, which ultimately allows high grass quality and eliminates the problem of poor irrigation water quality, which is often common on the island. The technology for optimal irrigation has been around for a long time, it is used in the United Arab Emirates as well as in Spain or Greece.

What is new for the countries of the D-A-CH region : Water supply is becoming a significantly higher cost factor in golf course construction and requires a rethink in renovation and redesign.

  • The collection of water from the roofs of the buildings on the golf course as well as from roads, parking lots and paths is inevitable in the long run.
  • The installation of large storage ponds becomes standard. Lake depth takes precedence over lake area in order to reduce the amount of evaporation. Small pumps and pipes can transport the water between the individual storage ponds relatively inexpensively.
  • Surfaces of the golf course are optimally designed to carry water directly into reservoirs or into catchment areas with gullies and drainage pipes.
  • The grass selection takes into account water-saving varieties.
  • The design of the system is important to reduce the needed amount of water.
  • The colour of the grass plays a subordinate role – Golf is not played on colour, it is played on grass

The fine art of creating a good reservoir goes beyond pure functionality: on the one hand, the reservoir should also be a strategic element, on the other hand, it is about creating an attractive appearance. For example, by integrating attractive shallower water zones, that can hide the changing water-levels in a good way. The view of liners and covering stones, which often appear when looking at reservoirs, is not particularly pretty.

At the same time, however, it is also a matter of protecting important game elements from flooding through correct leading of excessive water.

This makes the topic of water management far more complex than many golfers may think at first glance. It is a part of the overall structure of the golf course, which runs smoothly in the long run with optimized overall planning.

On the other hand, the rapid construction of a single storage pond without taking into account the overall environment is often a quick shot that backfires. Ponds are always part of the overall design and should therefore be optimally adapted to the game strategy and appearance, as well as fulfilling their function as water reservoirs at the same time. Only then is the topic of water management really optimally solved.

Option 1: Small reservoir with no visual and strategic function.

Option 2: Reservoir with better visual and strategic function.

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