The biennial GCMA conference was held at De Vere Cotswold Water Park in the UK in November 2019, bringing together golf club managers and industry professionals from across the UK and Europe.

Alastair Higgs, Golf Manager UK for Rain Bird, GCMA Strategic Partner and Jim Croxton, CEO, BIGGA (British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association) gave a joint presentation focusing on golf course irrigation, highlighting its increasing role and impact on golf courses and the experience for club members.

GCMA 2019 Conference

Alastair Higgs, Rain Bird Golf Manager UK speaking at GCMA 2019 Conference.

Jim Croxton presented the findings of the BIGGA 2019 Irrigation Survey which confirmed that two out of three clubs who responded to the survey currently have an irrigation system that dates back to the last century, with over 45% running a system that’s over 25 years old. BIGGA’s survey aimed to understand how the 2018 drought had challenged irrigation system capability, ably illustrated in a Rain Bird case study about Auchterader Golf Club.

General Managers were encouraged to take a closer look at irrigation and get a more in-depth understanding of the true costs involved as a first step, before starting to plan for any renovation, asking some straightforward questions such as:

  • How does your system affect your customers?
  • Is your system set up and running efficiently?
  • How much does golf course irrigation cost your club each year?
  • What do you spend on preventative maintenance and upgrades?
  • How does the club measure water usage and electricity?
  • What is your approach to risk management and disaster planning?
  • How can you use new technologies to drive irrigation system efficiencies?

Alastair Higgs, “When faced with what can be very challenging weather caused by climate change, many clubs are finding that they do not have much choice – they simply have to start planning to use less water and energy.

Rain Bird’s guiding philosophy The Intelligent Use of Water and approach to irrigation technologies can help General Managers, whatever the size of the course, to tackle renovation in a cost-effective way.”

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