How can golf clubs limit their losses in the event of flood damage?

No amount of preparation can withstand the damage caused by hurricanes, tropical storms or any weather condition that brings heavy rainfall over a prolonged period. This raises the question, “How can course design mitigate flood damage?” Before planning for adverse weather conditions it’s best to understand your watershed, flood potential and other aspects of course drainage. If you have any doubts about this hire a hydrology engineer (Hydrologist).

Design – Raise greens and tees to a level well above (between 12 and 18 inches) any long term recorded flood elevation. While it may be impractical to raise fairways it would be best to re-grade them to slope 5% or 6% to drain quickly. Lakes, roughs and other less critical areas should act as detention reservoirs.

Drainage – Install larger drain pipes. A large drain pipe has at least four or five times the capacity of one which is half its size (for example an 8” pipe as compared to a 4” pipe). There are also rules of thumb to estimate minimum pipe slope which are easily researched. It’s even more important to consider larger catch basins to help drainage capacity. Remember turf can die in a matter of days (2-3 days) when flooded so design pipes to drain as quickly as possible. Manholes should also be big enough for root maintenance machinery access when needed.

Cart Paths – Raising these to an achievable level (your main access routes) is highly recommended.

Irrigation System – Consult with your hydrology engineer to site pump stations and controllers. Place any related computer system on an upper floor level of your maintenance building. Business plan - Project long term lost play days in your business plan and include these in your insurance policy. And, ensure any as built plans (if onsite) are stored on the second floor and digitized copies are stored offsite.

Getting back to operational capacity - Remember the quicker you get the course back to operation after a flood the better and there is no better piece of equipment out there than Wood Bay’s fds turf dethatcher. If you haven’t yet read our testimonials here’s one from Bruce Klassen, Superintendent, Royal Regina Golf Club: “Leaving aside its intended purpose, we have used the fds 9200 very successfully to level and fix our cart paths. It is the best tool so far and it is also used as a float in our landscaping projects. It did a great job last year in loosening the silt on the course after our flood. Needless to say, we are very happy with such a versatile piece of equipment. In Addition: We were flooded on the lower level of the golf course and had some silt pile up so we harrowed with the fds 9200 down to original grade.”

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