Sustainable technology that keeps greens green

By Alistair May 15, 2024 08:12

Whenever we talk about water usage on golf courses, talk of sustainability is never far behind. For good reason too. The Met Office’s latest UK Climate Projections (UKCP) suggests summers will continue to become hotter and drier, with the frequency and intensity of heatwaves also expected to increase.

For greenkeepers and golf clubs across the UK, the impact of this is two-fold. The first is that higher temperatures and less precipitation are catalysts for drier soil and stressed grass. Extreme weather can slow the metabolic processes in turf, meaning reduced growth rates and the potential for grass to appear brown and sparse – less than ideal conditions for delivering optimum playability.

While the inclination to fix these issues would be to add more water, delivering turf more of the vital nutrients it needs to sustain itself through adverse weather conditions, those very same temperatures make responsible water usage paramount.

The challenge greenkeepers are facing then, is to balance these two truths by finding ways to get the most out of their water and their irrigation systems. Here Reesink Hydro-Scapes, sole Toro distributor in the UK for golf and sports fields equipment and irrigation products, considers responsible irrigation and sustainable water usage.

Barton-on-sea Golf Club invested in a Toro Lynx Central Control System, Infinity sprinklers on the greens, approaches and fairways, B Series on the tees

Use targeted watering for less wastage and better results

It’s no surprise that when it comes to navigating how to irrigate responsibly, the solution is usually to use less water. This means making the water you can use go further so that every drop counts.
Using state-of-the-art computerised irrigation control systems such as Toro’s Lynx Central Control System help greens teams apply water to the course with precision with some Toro systems allowing 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.

In addition, replacing older sprinklers for new models and better control allows courses to 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

Plus, Toro sprinklers can be switched from watering a full-circle pattern to watering a part-circle pattern with a quick adjustment. This can help courses quickly and easily stop watering roughs when necessary but keep watering fairways, or be adjusted for areas such as bunker surrounds so not to waste water throwing it into the bunkers, or have rotation to slowly apply water where runoff is a concern.

Barton-on-sea switches to pinpoint watering

Barton-on-sea Golf Club is a prime example of how changing weather patterns are forcing greenkeepers to adapt, and how Toro irrigation technology can help them do just that.

In past years, the club situated on the coastal cliff on the south coast between Christchurch in Dorset and Lymington in Hampshire was able to rely on the weather to supplement its existing irrigation system.

However, with changes to the climate, increased drought and reduced rainfall events in the summer months, it became clear that it could no longer rely on Mother Nature.

The solution was to invest in a Toro Lynx Central Control System, Infinity sprinklers on the greens, approaches and fairways, B Series on the tees and all new pipework. The result, according to course manager Jon Worrall, is “30 percent more efficient for us”.

“The Infinity sprinklers are particularly good for our location because of their unique ability to keep their arc in the wind and keep the water going where it needs to. We couldn’t find any other sprinklers that could do that.”

Jon Worrall, course manager, Barton-on-sea Golf Club.

Make watering decisions based on weather and soil conditions

Making watering decisions based on how weather and sun exposure affects turf and plant health is easy using products like Toro’s Turf Guard wireless soil sensing technology to monitor what’s happening beneath the surface. It provides an in-depth understanding of exactly how much water is being used in the first place, where it’s going and how the ground is receiving it.

Its sensors measure soil moisture, salinity and temperature to help determine which areas need water and which don’t, allowing water application to be adjusted to match the specific requirements of every green, tee and fairway, ensuring healthier turf without over or under-watering.

For West Sussex a tailored irrigation solution gave the ultimate control and flexibility bringing a significant cost-saving

Intricacies of right irrigation network for West Sussex

The replacement of West Sussex Golf Club’s irrigation system required an advanced level of diligence and care due to the fact that a large part of the course is within a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England insisted water should not be sprayed or allowed to leach on to the heather areas, falling only on the fine grass fairways.

The site is not blessed with an incredible amount of water either, so it needed a system that was precise, efficient and sustainable. Water throw had to be carefully calculated so a three-row system was installed on the fairways instead of a two-row alternative to deliver the accuracy required.

A Toro Lynx Smart Module, and Infinity sprinklers, was used on the fairways, greens, approaches and larger tees with T5s and T7s on the smaller tees. This tailored irrigation solution gave the ultimate control and flexibility bringing a significant cost-saving.

Aerators sustainably manage lakes, ponds and rainwater reservoirs

Investing in sustainable technology doesn’t stop at your irrigation system, especially with the rise of alternative water sources such as rainwater capture lakes.
But whether your lake, ponds or reservoirs are used for irrigation purposes, to promote biodiversity and wildlife or simply for aesthetic reasons, maintaining water quality is key – and doing so sustainably is easier than you might think.

Whereas traditional maintenance methods such as chemical treatments can be beneficial in the short term, in the long-run they regularly lead to water contamination. Something which can cause algal blooms and can affect your turf’s growth if that contaminated water is then used for irrigation.

Alternatively, water aerators work by dissolving oxygen so it can be put back into the water, supporting its aerobic and oxidative processes. Otterbine, supplied in the UK by Reesink Hydro-scapes, delivers the highest oxygen transfer and pumping rates in the industry, adding as much as 3.3lbs or 1.5kg of oxygen per horsepower hour into the water.

With options that work from the bottom of your lake such as the Air Flo aspirators that deliver invisible aeration, and surface aerators in the form of aerating fountains that operate in depths as little as 75cm of water and produce breathtaking displays, there’s something for every size and depth of water body.

“I like how Toro has constantly evolved its products, making them as efficient as possible. We appreciate the speed, responsiveness and ease of the entire system. It has the precision we need to tailor the setup to suit the varying areas of the course, we can spot-target areas, stop the sprinklers within a second which reduces water wastage, and we irrigate less because the water is going exactly where we want it.”

Kerr Rowan, course manager, West Sussex Golf Club.

With options that work from the bottom of your lake such as the Air Flo aspirators that deliver invisible aeration

Work with Reesink Hydro-Scapes for a more sustainable future

When you combine Toro technology with the expertise and experience of Reesink Hydro-Scapes, golf clubs can massively improve water efficiencies, improve existing infrastructure, and manage reservoirs better to ensure the resource which the future of the industry we work in lies.

To learn more about sustainable irrigation and water management, call 01480 226800 or visit

By Alistair May 15, 2024 08:12

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