Sample drought news release

Please note: This is an actual release that GCSAA staff created with help from the Massachusetts GCSA and the Northeast USGA section. It was recently released to the media. Because each region is different, you will most likely need to craft a message that is unique to your situation. In addition, in selecting a chapter contact for the media, it is important that this person is accessible and comfortable should reporters call. For help in crafting such a release or discussing outreach strategy, contact Jeff Bollig, GCSAA Director of Communications at (800) 472-7878, ext. 430.

For Immediate Release - March 25, 2002

Superintendents focus on efficient use of water

Lingering drought likely to affect golf course conditions

BOSTON, Mass. - A prolonged drought has New England golf course superintendents fearing for the worst as the golf season nears.

Already this year, the region is 2.85" below its normal rainfall total. That follows the 2001 calendar year in which the rain gauge was 6.85" below normal, including a period from August to December where the deficit was 12.64". As a result, some reservoirs are at approximately 50 percent of capacity compared to the normal 94 percent recharged. Many areas of the region are now subject to water use restrictions.

"There may be no other profession that understands the importance of the efficient use of water than golf course superintendents," said Jim Fitzroy, certified golf course superintendent at the Presidents Club and president of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of New England. "We are keenly aware of our responsibility to work with lawmakers to achieve a workable solution for irrigating turf. But if we do not get appreciable rainfall for an extended period, the golfers are likely to see turf conditions stressed."

To compensate for the lack of rainfall superintendents will focus their watering on greens and tees first, and then fairways if the water is available. They may also have to restrict golf car access as a means to prevent turf damage. Despite the need to take these measures, the effects may be more aesthetic than anything else.

"Golf course superintendents have an amazing ability to deal with the challenges dealt by Mother Nature and still provide good playing conditions," said Jim Skorulski, USGA agronomist. "Developing a strong, vigorously-rooted plant this spring will be key if the turf is to survive a persistent drought and potential water use restrictions.

"Superintendents and green committees may be forced to make some unpopular decisions to abide with water conservation laws and protect the golf course should the drought worsen. Hopefully, golfers will accept and cooperate with those decisions. The old adage 'green is not great' definitely applies in this situation and no one should become alarmed over some brown grass. Dry, firm conditions are always desirable."

Still, Skorulski does not minimize the challenge golf course superintendents face.

"It's never easy to go through something like this. But it almost becomes a double whammy as many golf courses are not yet fully recovered from the extensive winterkill of last season."

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For more information, contact:

  • Russ Heller, Golf Course Superintendent, Franklin Park G.C., (617) 983-2786
  • Jim Fitzroy, Golf Course Superintendent, Presidents G.C., (617) 328-1776
  • Paul Miller, Golf Course Superintendent, Nashawtuc C.C., (978) 369-5704
  • Robert Ruszala, Golf Course Superintendent, Hickory Ridge G.C., (413) 256-8654
  • Jim Skorulski, USGA Green Section Agronomist, (413) 283-2237