Golf Course Superintendents are considered to be the managers of the grass you play on when you are out on the golf course. As this is the truth, their responsibilities run much farther and wider than most people tend to consider. Superintendents are responsible for everything on a golf course from the grass, to the fence that marks the property line, to the tee towels and trash receptacles. Which brings me to the topic of the article, that is the management of the ponds on the course property.
A pond on a golf course represents many challenges besides being a hazard for errant shots. Ponds are a habitat for many creatures in the wild. Whether they are natural or man made, ponds contribute a variety of things necessary to support life. They are used as a drinking source for most, protection for others, mating ground, and food source.Bodies of water on golf courses are also aesthetically pleasing when properly maintained.With all of these things relying on the same area for very important reasons, it is imperative for us as grounds managers to ensure a balanced environment to cater to all them.
Along with creating an environment for animals and people, having a healthy water source for turf grass is also important. A healthy water source is beneficial to micro organisms, roots and shoots of plants, the ration exchange capacity of the soil and reaction and degradation of fertilizer and pesticide products. The better the quality of water, the better the efficiency in which all of the above work.
There are many things that work together to keep a body of water healthy and able to support life. Measuring the carbonate hardness (KH) and PH gives you valuable information on where the health of the water source stands. KH is measured in parts per million and PH measures the acidity and alkalinity of the water. Simple test kits are available in many stores that will tell you the proper thresholds for ponds with and without fish in them. If an improper balance is found it is more important to try and adjust the KH than the PH since if the KH is changed the PH will be affected automatically. With an improper balance, the water will not be as conducive to supporting life of any kind.
Some other things that help control water quality are aquatic plants, fish, amphibians and micro organisms. Each of these act like a filter for the water, taking up excess nutrients as a food source, discourageing algae blooms and creating a balanced enviroment.
There are some things that can be done to help a ponds enviroment become or remain balanced that humans can do.
- Applying fertilizer and pesticides by hand near water sources or keeping your treatments away from pond banks entirely will greatly reduce the chances of leaching and run off.
- Removing invasive species of plants and animals.
- Installing surface or sub surface aerators ( i.e. fountains)
- Water dye to decrease the effect of sunlight on algae blooms.
- Allowing the banks and area around the pond to grow naturally.
As you can see the managing of a golf course property is far more than having the knowledge of creating good turf conditions for players. It has become a study of many micro environments rolled into one position allowing us to increase our knowledge of many areas we would never have had the opportunity to have learned about. It is why we enjoy the job that we have chosen.