April 25th of 2014 was the last time we saw rain this year... until today! While I wouldn't qualify it a rain event per se, it is nonetheless moisture falling from the sky and causing the pavement to smoke in relief. We probably won't get anything measurable from this, but we may be able to turn the sprinklers off for a day.
Since April 25th, we have been doing a lot of items to best manage this drought. The highlights are continually punching/ aerating, lots of lime and more to come, continual irrigation audits, and changes to the irrigation programming.
We have solid tined fairways 3 times this summer while roughs and tees have been done twice now. All three surfaces are getting core aerated as we speak and will be followed up by another application of lime. The holes allow for better water penetration and the lime (calcium) is helping with sodium which has risen to 12% of the base saturation on fairways. We were at 9% sodium in May and less than 5% is desirable.
Our irrigation man, Rolando, has been rocking with nozzle adjustments and pressure adjustments which has alleviated 75% of the nozzle issues we've had on the course. Along with his help, we have made changes to the irrigation programming that have helped maximize efficiency. Some of those changes were changing the flow set-point from 1800 gpm to 1300 gpm, only allowing 2 sprinklers to run per irrigation program at one time, and changing the priorities on the programs.
With the later, Tom Jackson of Sierra Pacific/ Rainbird has always stressed this and I never put much into it. The theory is that by changing the sprinklers start time priority, the sprinkler will run at different times every night and the odds of the sprinkler running while windy every night are reduced. I still doesn't make sense to me that it has that big of an impact, but we are seeing the results and I can make sense of that.
It really has been an exciting year learning how to best manage the drought and we have learned a lot that will have forever lasting impacts to how we manage water going into any irrigation season; drought or no drought.