Category Archives: Irrigation

Decreasing contamination of runoff: The risks of fertilization

Algal blooms, like the ones visible through satellite photography of Lake Erie, are thought to be caused by excess phosphorous and nitrogen in groundwater and surface water. The rapid growth and death of these marine organisms uses up oxygen necessary for other aquatic life and reduces the ability of sunlight to make its way below the water’s surface. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory


By Christopher Murray, PhD

The danger to water quality posed by fertilization is a generally easy one to identify: algal blooms that contribute to decreased available dissolved oxygen and the death of aquatic ecosystems are a visible indicator of high amounts of nutrients making their way into the water supply. At first glance, there appears to be many reasons to restrict using fertilizer on turfgrass. The esthetic and recreational value of a healthy stand of turf is appreciated, but these ‘soft’ benefits are much less important than maintaining a supply of clean water.

Of course, there are many people who do not have any interest in turfgrass as a playing surface or as decoration and are happy to pave over it for an extra parking space or replace it with something not so labour-intensive to maintain, such as artificial turf. This approach, and similarly the idea of banning turfgrass fertilization, makes sense if there is little benefit and plenty of risk and labour associated with turfgrass maintenance, but what if there is an important role for turfgrass to play in improving water quality? What might be at risk by ignoring any potential benefit?

Read the full article: Turf Fertilization: Decreasing contamination of runoff

Turf Fertilization: Decreasing contamination of runoff

By Christopher Murray, PhD

Homeowners, golf course superintendents, and others involved in turfgrass management are increasingly inundated with messages telling them maintaining turf is hurting the environment on which they rely. Pesticides used to eliminate weeds, insects, and fungi are thought to contribute to diseases such as cancer, while grass fertilization leads to contaminated runoff ending in lakes, rivers, and streams. Further, irrigating thirsty lawns in the height of summer puts additional stress on water supplies.

Cosmetic, residential use of pesticides is already severely and generally restricted throughout many areas of the country, and municipalities are doing all they can to curb unnecessary use of water during the driest summer months. That leaves fertilization as one of the last largely unrestricted forms of maintenance available for turfgrass. Is it next on the list of restricted practices? Should it be?

Read the full article: Turf Fertilization: Decreasing contamination of runoff

Reconstructing the Derrick Club: Architectural issues

The green at the Derrick Club’s par-four fifth hole is currently sandwiched between a pond and a neighbouring homeowner’s yard, at right. Part of the redesign plan involves abandoning this hole and creating a new 128-m (140-y) par-three in this area of the golf course to eliminate this awkwardness and potential danger. Photo courtesy Jeff Mingay


By Jeff Mingay

Along with problems relative to basic functions, many architectural changes have been made to Brinkworth’s original golf course design at the Derrick. During the early 1980s, the club sold a parcel of land that was its practice range. A new 240-m (787-ft) long, 140-m (459-ft) wide practice range was squeezed into the middle of the course, necessitating adjustment to several holes and the original sequence of play. As a result, there are currently a few awkward transitions between holes and the general layout of the course no longer makes best use of available property.

As the city of Edmonton has grown around the course, numerous safety issues have developed over the years. The par-four green at the fifth hole, for example, is tightly sandwiched between a water hazard and the course’s boundary. A large safety net stands between the back of this green to prevent golf balls from landing in a neighbouring homeowner’s yard. A similar, equally unsightly safety net also exists along the right side of the par-four ninth hole to stop errant tee shots from potentially damaging vehicles on 119 Street—a busy thoroughfare running immediately adjacent to the course.

Read the full article: Reconstructing the Derrick Club: Phase One

Reconstructing the Derrick Club: Fundamental problems

A photo visualization of the proposed par-three 16th hole, which will play about 128 m from the back tee markers. Building a new green out into the existing water hazard, away from neighbouring properties, eliminates potential danger and will allow for removal of an unsightly safety net that currently exists behind the Derrick Club’s fifth green. Photo courtesy Jeff Mingay


By Jeff Mingay

Nearly everyone has affection for their home course, mostly because of associations. Friends play there and people get to know the course well enough they likely card lower scores there than anywhere else. Some of the same golfers are suspicious of contemporary course designers who they think show up with fanciful but needless ideas to bring about change simply for the sake of change (and to charge an exorbitant fee to do so). The truth is many golf course superintendents are so good at their jobs that fundamental problems with many courses are regularly masked before the first golfer tees off each morning.

Read the full article: Reconstructing the Derrick Club: Phase One

Reconstructing the Derrick Club: Phase One

Photo courtesy Jeff Mingay


By Jeff Mingay

Golf courses are a bit like houses. As they age, things deteriorate and capital expenditure is required to protect the owner’s investment. Otherwise, the value of that asset will inevitably decrease.

Edmonton’s Derrick Golf and Winter Club found itself in this position in the spring of 2010, when I was hired to study the club’s half-century old course and make recommendations for improvement.

Established in 1959, the Derrick is Edmonton’s foremost year-round private club. Located in the heart of Alberta’s capital, it provides members with access to fitness, aquatic, curling, and racquet sport facilities, casual and fine dining, and an 18-hole golf course originally designed by Pop Brinkworth—an experienced golf course designer, builder, and superintendent.

Brinkworth had worked at Edmonton Country Club and Jasper Park Golf Course before laying out the Derrick. He routed holes over a flat 59-ha (146-acre), clay-based tract for the club. At the time, the property was nearly devoid of trees and not yet tightly surrounded by residential development. These days, every hole at the Derrick is lined with evergreens and poplars and the course is engulfed by urban sprawl.

Read the full article: Reconstructing the Derrick Club: Phase One