This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
David Phipps Superintendent Stone Creek Golf Club Oregon City, OR Stone Creek Golf Club is a municipally owned18-hole course designed by Peter Jacobsen/Jim Hardy. The course is scenically designed and offers spectacular views of Mt. Hood. The course is laid out over 120 acres of land with old-growth Douglas Firs, lakes, four wetlands, and forty-three bunkers. From the onset of construction at Stone Creek Golf Club we knew that water was going to be a valuable commodity. Our sources were limited in that we could draw from a local creek, but only enough to keep 2 cubic feet per second passing by our water diversion which meant we were pretty much done diverting water on July 1st. Our second source is a deep well that at its best will pump 230 gallons per minute. The well is our only water source from July though October. Running 24/7 the well will pump 331,200 gallons of water to the irrigation pond during a 24 hour period. Given pond seepage and evaporation we will keep our water limit to 280,000 gallons on a high water demand night. Out of a 140 acre site we will irrigate roughly 90 acres of turf. In 2009 we pumped a 121 acre feet which is 1.34 acre foot per acre. Based on the Golf Course Environmental Profile, Water Use and Conservation Practices Survey, the Pacific Region uses an average of 158 acre feet per 18 hole facility. That equates to 1.9 acre foot per irrigated acre. One of our biggest areas of water savings is the driving range. We have been able to shut it off as soon as we start drawing from the well and we simply let it go dormant. This saves us in excess of 30,000 gallons a night which can be better used on other places. With the fescues it rapidly recovers upon the onset of the first fall rains.
Many would think that a golf course in Oregon would receive plenty of rain throughout the year, but within the time frame between July and October we are lucky to see an inch. Stone Creek offers distinct seasonal conditions to the golfers which they have unanimously accepted. In the summer, if I may use a quote from Mark Esoda, CGCS of Atlanta Country Club, Stone Creek is a little “crispy” around the edges. The golfer’s love the additional bounce and can enjoy the game the way is was played 100 years ago. As the fall rains begin, the course transitions in almost a week’s time back to green. We are always amazed how fast the fescues will recover. Knowing our water woes prior to construction we were fortunate to be able to design an irrigation system and a turfgrass management plan that would accommodate this condition. Our tee boxes were irrigated block style keeping all of the water on the tee tops and allowing the grass to go dormant around them in the summer. The turfgrass we selected was a combination of fine fescues with 40% perennial ryegrass. These species were planted wall-to-wall with the exception of the tees and greens. What we have seen over the last 9 years is the natural areas between the holes have predominately become a stand of fine fescue. The roughs that receive limited irrigation in the summer are also primarily fescue as well. The fairways maintain a combination of rye and fine fescue. The benefit of fine fescue is that it will thrive on limited fertilizer. The outer rough receives zero nitrogen and remains thin and is only mown in the fall. Our regular rough will receive from .75 to 1.5 lbs of nitrogen and our fairways will receive 2.5 lbs of nitrogen. We have transitioned to a 90% methylene urea slow release product. This has given us a slow and safe release curve
which prevents runoff and feeds the grass all season long. Even though we had to spend a little more for the higher quality fertilizer we are still able to realize cost savings by avoiding a mid summer application. We have also discovered that if we substitute an early spring fertilizer application that we used to bring the grass out of dormancy, and apply a high quality calcium product, we have been able to get the same amount of greenup but without the risk of a soluble fertilizer. Managing the course in a drier condition has also reduced the amount of insect and disease pressure. It is hard to estimate the overall cost savings given that we had to conserve from the onset of construction and have never had a bench mark to compare. The money that we have saved has allowed us to increase our budget and maintain the course at a high standard. Dollars are able to go toward cultural practices such as a fairway topdressing and growth regulators. We are also able to employ additional staff throughout the year which enables us to get many projects done in the winter. The benefit is realized is by the 60,000 plus rounds that we see each year and the net income which offsets the County Parks budget. We are fortunate in that we were limited in water because it forced us to operate in a manner that was environmentally friendly and budget friendly from the start. Stone Creek Golf Club realized from the onset of the design phase that we were saving money and creating optimum playing conditions. In addition, the reduction of inputs has not prohibited us from providing a marketable playing experience that has been recognized with many awards as well. Those awards include: • • • • • • • • • Golf Digest Best Places to Play (4 Stars) 2006-2007 Voted #1 Best Value in the Pacific Northwest - Brainstorm Magazine 2004 Voted #6 Best Public Course in Oregon - Golfweek 2004 Golf Digest Four Star Course -2004 Voted in the top 10 environmentally friendly golf courses- Links Magazine 2009 Environmental Leaders in Golf Award, National Public Winner 2008. Environmental Leaders in Golf Award, Chapter Public Winner, 2005, 2006, 2007. Environmental Leaders in Golf Award, Merit Public Winner, 2004. Cooperator of the Year - Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District 2004-2005