South Mountain Golf Course: Watering 101

South Mountain Golf Course, at 1247 East Mike Weir Drive in Draper, is owned and operated by Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation since 1999. The 250-acre course is one of six Salt Lake County golf courses.

Beginning in 2018, Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation proactively implemented several measures to reduce water use countywide, including:

  • Hiring a team of dedicated full-time water management professionals who conduct daily monitoring to ensure wise and conservative watering practices
  • Installing a central control irrigation system at all six courses to help manage and control water use, based on weather and soil conditions, in accordance with a Utah State University (USU) benchmark for healthy turf in Salt Lake Valley
  • Using 15–30% less than the USU recommended water usage to capture even greater efficiencies

Golf courses, regional parks, and other green spaces are linked to healthier and happier communities, especially in urban areas because they typically bring temperatures down and reduce the ‘heat island’ effect. Conserving water while continuing to provide health-focused amenities and resources across the valley, that help Salt Lake County residents and guests remain active and beat the heat, is a delicate and necessary balance.

Large properties like our regional parks and golf courses, that serve thousands of members of the public annually, require sophisticated water management and, subsequently, different conservation efforts than those taken by residents. There is always room for improvement, and we regularly assess our systems for effectiveness and conservation compliance. In an “average” year, our turf maintenance schedule at South Mountain Golf Course is as follows:

Spring

  • Apply wetting agent
  • Use sprinklers during the day for germination, as needed
  • Watering typically takes place in the evening/early morning

Summer

  • Smart water management as indicated by the central control irrigation system
  • Reserve water in tanks for use when levels are low or limited

Fall

  • Winterize pipes

Winter

  • Shut off water

Over the last two years, we’ve experienced extremely dry weather conditions that have directly impacted the way we manage our turf. Below are water-saving steps taken, in addition to the proactive water conservation efforts listed previously, in response to the dry conditions:

  • Stop watering non-essential turf, including rough and driving range
  • Prioritize watering of greens, tees, and fairways (with daily monitoring)
  • Introduce soil conditioners, such as wetting agents and surfactants, that reduce evaporation by keeping the water in the soil for longer periods

Through these efforts, we have cut our daily water use in half. In the upcoming seasons, we intend to test different cultivars of grass in hopes of further conserving water while continuing to provide a positive golf experience.

Learn more about our smart-water management system:

https://www.fox13now.com/news/local-news/hi-tech-helps-utah-golf-managers-use-the-least-amount-of-water-during-drought