About Me

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Los Gatos, California, United States
Kevin is currently the certified superintendent at La Rinconada Country Club. Kevin was the Director of Maintenance at Lahontan Golf Club for over 14 years. Some of the responsibilities over the expanse of his career include the daily upkeep of multiple golf courses, natural resources, environmental compliance, and roads and streets. The wide ranging expertise has come from a combination of education and experiences. Degrees in Meteorology (1987 University of Nebraska/Lincoln), and Horticulture (1992 Colorado State), complete the formal side of this important combination of qualifications. A lifetime of experience around golf courses, and the game of golf was provided by Kevin's father.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Drought Management at La Rinconada

Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought on January 17th, 2014, giving water regulators the ability to take action to reduce water use in order to ensure the safety and health of the people of California. At that time the governor asked for a voluntary 20% reduction in water use and gave local and regional agencies the ability to mandate any reductions they felt were appropriate.

Credit: CBS
With this in mind I drafted an irrigation reduction plan for the golf course in collaboration with Bill Love our golf course architect, Andy Kimball golf professional, and our Greens and Grounds committee.

Irrigation Reduction Plan

In response to the ongoing drought in California the LaRinconada Country Club is adopting the following drought plan with the goal to reduce overall water use, to use water as efficiently as possible, and to prioritize areas of the course when rationing is called for.
The philosophy of water management is to only use as much as needed to produce a healthy turf grass surface that is suitable for the game of golf.
LaRinconada has been proactive in using water efficiently, by investing in the latest technology for irrigation management, and in selection of water efficient grass species. In 2013 a new Toro Lynx irrigation control system was installed as well as a Campbell Scientific weather station.  The weather station calculates the amount of moisture lost in a day and the amount of irrigation is automatically determined for each individual sprinkler head based on the information from the weather station. In addition soil moisture readings are taken by 8 permanent units buried in different locations around the course, as well as a hand held unit that is used daily. All surfaces are checked and monitored before irrigation takes place to assure that watering is necessary.
To reduce the amount of water used, LaRinconada has taken areas out of irrigation, and has also planted water efficient grass species. In 2012 and 2013 approximately 8 acres were re-landscaped from grass to mulch.  In 2012, 90 acres of the golf course were converted from predominately Poa annua to perennial rye and chewing fescue. The 2 new species require less water than the old annual bluegrass surfaces due mainly to deeper rooting. At that time LaRinconada also participated in the Santa Clara Valley Water District irrigation and Landscape conservation programs. An onsite audit was performed and a rebate of $29,000 was awarded for the changes that were made.
In severe drought conditions there may be the need to ration water and in response to that possibility the areas of the golf course have been given the following priorities. 1) greens 2) tees 3) approaches 4) fairways 5) green surrounds 6) roughs 7) perimeters 8) practice area 9) Flowers. Each of these areas is programmed separately in the irrigation control computer so that a reduction is easily made. Reductions will be made across all the individual areas as much as possible until a non recoverable loss of turf health is seen, at which time the lowest priority area will be reduced further, which may result the total loss of that grassed area.
The reduction of irrigation will be measured by the area of irrigation the previous year multiplied by the amount of evapotranspiration over the current month measured at the weather station. The amount of reduction will also be measured by the actual gallons used during the current month as compared to the average of the previous 2 years.
Continual monitoring will take place through daily pump station readings of gallons used, daily weather station evapotranspiration readings in comparison to irrigation performed, and all golf course areas monitored for efficient use of water. This document and the philosophy have the full endorsement of staff and the membership and these practices were adopted in March of 2014.

Kevin P Breen CGCS.

Mapped areas of irrigation reduction circled. Click on the picture to zoom in for better viewing.

This change that the course will go through will be difficult while we are in the midst of the golf season, however I have no doubt it will be better in the long run. It is just going to happen more quickly than we would have planned.



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