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The Old Course at St. Andrews, in the heart of Scotland, is the cradle of golf. Its course - the legendary and recurring setting for the British Open - is a passport to history for golfers. Whoever wins there, wins always. And the visa to becoming a legend endowed by its eighteen holes is not exclusive to golfers: it also belongs to any person, institution or company related to the mythical greens. That is why being a part of St. Andrews in any way is a certificate of quality. Even more so when it is to do with a process that is aimed at improving playing conditions, at more efficient management of a green where everything always has to be impeccable.
And for some time now, besides Tiger Woods, Sergio García and Chema Olazábal, Quadrop has also been playing its part on the Scottish grass - although it
doesn’t appear on the official list of players. Quadrop is a fertiliser which favours water treatment on greens and allows a reduction in water used for watering: “We hope to save thousands of pounds on our water bill thanks to treating with this product”, states Craig Tidmarsh, greenkeeper at the Abbey Hotel Golf & Country Club, in Redditch, Worcestershire, United Kingdom - another user of the product.
Concern about this matter in a geographical area where rainfall is usually abundant confirms that water management, the indisputable basis of a golf course, has come full circle over the past years to focus on savings and technological commitment.
Professionals, such as Octavi Creus, engineering consultant and greenkeeper at the Llaveneres Golf Club, are well aware of this.
“Without water, golf courses would not exist. In our case, 100% of the water we use is waste water coming from tertiary treatment process developed and managed by Aqualogy”. This comprises a complex procedure that takes place every hour of the day in which many parties are involved. “The water is delivered to us by the Local Council following its biological filtration after which it moves on to the tertiary treatment plant. Afterwards, we share it out between four Golf and two Pitch & Putt courses, as per the amounts dictated by the Authorities; if necessary, we then do a second round of treatment, above all taking the time that the water remains in our lakes into account”.
FOCUS ON INTEGRATION
Tertiary treatment, fertilisers such as Quadrop or dosage systems such as the one also installed at St. Andrews form part of the Aqualogy golf solutions - an integral and variable offer that aims to optimise resources in order to achieve the greatest financial and environmental savings while maintaining the high quality of the playing surface. “Our focus on business integration, as we are neither manufacturers nor distributors, allows the courses to find solutions and technology at an acceptable price, far from what is usual in this sector, where any product with a label that says “golf” automatically costs double or triple the norm” explains Antonio Escamilla, Director of the Golf Department at Aqualogy.
Indeed, the service offer is very extensive. From rehabilitation, operation and maintenance of existing hydraulic infrastructures, to hydro-energetic diagnosis or legal assessment regarding water and environment. Everything is focused on achieving a reduction in the costs associated with water and energy, without forgetting the analytical quality control of water, air and biosafety, with such singular solutions as refilling aquifers, water management and weather prediction systems... “We look on the golf client as a mass consumer”, says Escamilla, “and the water used, furthermore, must be very high standard. If you also add the strict (water and environmental) regulations that the clubs are currently subjected to and a tendency to further demands in the future, it is clear that our field of collaboration has a long road ahead”.
SAVING IS FUNDAMENTAL
The change that has taken place in everything relating to the use of water on the courses has sunk in deep with the greenkeepers. And not only because of legal requirements, but also because of financial factors, image and, of course, awareness about the need for better management of a fundamental resource.
“Every litre of water that we consume costs money until it reaches the green”, says Creus. “Our aim is to not let even one drop escape ever, and we are achieving it thanks to intense and highly-coordinated work with the Aqualogy people.”
But the saving would be worth nothing if the grass were not impeccable at all times. Innes Knight, Course Manager at the Kingsbarns Golf Links in the UK, remembers that “the first heavy rain that fell after
having used Quadrop was on a very significant day for the club from a promotional point of view, and the greens stayed firm, as if not a drop had fallen”. Perhaps that explains why in the British Isles, where the rainfall index is very high, over 70 clubs use Quadrop fertiliser. Craig Tirmach confirms this: “Since we have been using it, we have seen that the greens stay very green and the water drains faster”.
“À LA CARTE” OPTIONS
Weather conditions are no doubt very different at the over 400 courses throughout Spain but the flexibility of the service provided to the golf market by Aqualogy means it can be perfectly adapted, “and it gives each client the possibility of choosing “à la carte” the best solutions fit its operational and maintenance needs”,
explains Antonio Escamilla. Time will tell if Aqualogy will become one of the legends of this sport. To begin with, it is already playing at St. Andrews. The first strike has been taken, and it was a hole in one.