Energy Awareness Month: greens bring in the green
By Staff Sgt. David Dobrydney, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 27, 2011
ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- The heart of any golf course is the rolling grass of the green, but keeping that green can take a lot of water.
At the Breckland Pines Golf Course, Stephen Ritz-Woller, 48th Force Support Squadron golf course manager, has implemented initiatives to reduce water use.
"We want to do our part in conserving water for the base and in turn the local community," said Ritz-Woller.
"We believe it's our duty as golf course operators to be good stewards for the environment."
To lower the amount of water used on the golf course, new programs were loaded into the computerized irrigation system. These programs water less frequently, and for a shorter duration.
Besides reducing the amount of water fed through the irrigation system, changes to how the greens are tended ensured that water is used more efficiently.
"In the past, the top few inches of soil on the course have been full of dark, organic material that would not allow much water to filter through," Ritz-Woller said.
"The top layer had to be absolutely saturated with irrigation in order to get any water at all where we needed it, approximately four to six inches below the surface in the heart of the root zone for the turf-grass."
With the improved groundskeeping, less water can now penetrate deeper into the ground more easily, strengthening the roots of the grass.
This has the additional benefit of making the grass more resistant to problematic fungus and harmful insects, Ritz-Woller added.
"We've adopted a policy of ensuring, if anything, the golf course is under-watered and never over-watered," he added. "There is a much greater chance the golf course will make a full recovery from being too dry instead of too wet."
In the 18 months since the initiative began, water usage has been reduced by 10 million gallons, yielding a savings of $100,000, said Sean Cockrell, 48th Civil Engineer Squadron energy manager.
"Steve enforced a change in philosophy about the way they take care of the grass," he said. "His changes not only save water but provide a better playing and better looking course."