September 1, 2015 – Most people don’t know that Sept. 1 is the opening of dove-hunting season in the desert areas of Southern California. But for golfers, Sept. 1 means something else entirely. It means that overseeding is just around the corner, and golf courses in the Coachella Valley will be closed for three to four weeks at a time.
As great as golf is in the desert, as many fabulous courses that are in the Coachella Valley, the desert still has the one drawback. Each course, because of the desert’s remarkably diverse climate, must close down for a period of time at the end of the summer of the beginning of the fall. The warm-weather Bermuda grass must be pushed into dormancy and the cool-weather grasses like rye or bluegrass must be seeded on the course to keep the courses green in the winter.
But as the desert (and the rest of California) staggers through a third year of a drought, and with overseeding being a major period of water usage for desert golf courses, there is a major question to be asked. What precisely are golf courses planning for the 2015 overseeding with seemingly all eyes on each course to see how much more water efficient they can be?
Oh, we already know that overseeding in the desert has changed radically from 10 or 15 years ago. Gone for the most part is the only dry scalping method. At least that’s true on golf courses, thanks to work between the Hi-Lo Desert Chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents Association and the folks at the Coachella Valley Association of Governments. Golf courses stay watered longer, aren’t scalped to the ground and see the cool-weather seed tossed on the course with Bermuda grass still visible and in some instances still green.
But what might we see in overseeding as courses start closing for the process in the coming weeks? The options seem to be limited to overseeding just tees, fairways and greens at most golf communities, or overseeding the entire golf course but not overseeding non-playing areas like areas between one hole and the next.
The California drought is impacting many business and, of course, just regular people. But the golf industry is under perhaps the greatest scrutiny. So now everything the industry has done normally in the last few decades is going to be analyzed closer than before. And that could including overseeding.