Lake & Stream Primer for Golf Courses & Superintendents

By Patrick Simmsgeiger, Founder of DWI

The individuality of streams and lakes makes maintenance far more complicated than simple cause and effect. Out of ten of your course’s water features, two might need nothing, three might be very tough to manage, and five might need simple preventive measures. It’s the tough ones that motivate golf course superintendents to seek a specialist.

Courses can treat smaller features like swimming pools if they have money to burn, natural solutions can be executed in favor of chemical or equipment-based ones (like filters). . . or, a professional who understands how to balance natural solutions with artificial measures can be hired.

There are all kinds of tools, some work as promised, but non are a solution by itself. The best approach is to start with the idea of restoring a balance by providing adequate circulation, managing nutrient levels, ensuring adequate aeration and adjusting suspended solids and organic content with equipment and registered chemicals. The trick is not to create a new problem by overloading one side of the equation.

Course superintendents respect the value of water features so it follows he or she appreciates the concept of naturalbalance. However, they probably won’t want to go into the specifics of population percentages between forage and predator fish or appreciating the value of fish species that eat insect larvae.

We could go on forever listing all the detrimental nutrients that are added to a water feature due to runoff. It goes without saying that runoff from highly fertilized turf is going to wreak havoc with your waterscapes. The debris from tree leaves is a major source of nutrients in lakes and also a major source of trouble. Grass clippings (the tips) contain the highest level of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) of the entire grass stem. Taking these clippings and placing them into a body of water makes “today’s grass clippings tomorrow’s algae bloom”. Reclaimed water is an entirely different and extensive subject to broach. Course superintendents already know and are frustrated by, the problems inherent to the use of reclaimed water due to the nutrient load and the high salt content.

When your water feature gets hit with an unsightly pea-soup group appearance or starts to emit an odor, the answer won’t be a single fix-all. It will be a package of solutions working together to resolve the problem. Bottom line, an aquatic problem can’t be fixed by making one change and moving on.

Keep in mind that much more of the earth is covered in water than land, yet we assume land is the only thing that counts. We already know there is a whole world out there that matters a great deal to us. We just need to give it the respect that it is due. That’s what professionals do every day. We aren’t cleaning pools, we are managing a delicate balance between natural aquatic organisms and the aesthetic appearance of highly visible bodies of water within the golf courses. That’s our specialty. Don’t assume that one thing can resolve all problems, but be encouraged, you can have it all if you delegate lake and pond management to a knowledgeable person and remember it’s nature with whom we are dealing.

Posted on April 16, 2014 and filed under Lake Maintenance.