Will the Qatar International Golf Club save the nature?

By: May 17, 2016

In last November turned out that a new golf club, the Qatar International Golf Club will be built in the heart of Qatar’s Education City in Doha. The Qatar International Golf Club will have an 18-hole championship golf course, a 6-hole championship course, and a 9-hole par-3 course all designed by two-time major winner Jose Maria Olazabal. In Qatar. In this sense, they are not so different from the Doha Golf Club.

Nevertheless, the Qatar International Golf Club will excel, at least in two areas:

  • By combining golfing, leisure and sports education. The various golf courses are helping golfers to get through all stages of development. I think this is not so typical in a golf resort.
  • Focus on sustainability from the beginning (in the region, Al Zorah Golf Club was also eager to invest in sustainability). To achieve sustainability, they are utilizing the Golf Environment Organization‘s  OnCourse Development program. This program is actually a free online program where at the end of the process the golf club can earn the GEO Certified title. If they succeed, then they will be the third golf club in the region after the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and the Emirates Golf Club.

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The Qatar International Golf Club has already made significant steps toward sustainability:

  • 1,400 cu. m. less water utilization per month thanks to factors including large areas of drought and heat-tolerant planting, the minimization of turfgrass areas and smart irrigation and sprinkler systems.
  • A root zone design that creates a perched water table under all grassed areas, the choice of Platinum TE Paspalum as it is the most salt-tolerant turfgrass. Paspalum is withstanding the heavy traffic of golf courses and diseases as well. It also requires  fewer fertilizer applications and less irrigation. In case of the Paspalum, the quality of irrigation water is less of a concern.
  • The drainage system which retains and recycles excess irrigation and rainwater also support the reduction in water usage on the site.
  • In terms of nature enhancement, the development will use predominantly native Qatari plant species whilst a series of naturalized lakes and the restoration of an old Wadi will provide resources for migratory birds to colonize in the region. Bird boxes are already installed in the almost complete areas of the development to encourage habitation.
  • Solar panels, energy efficient lighting, and a zoned floodlighting system will also contribute to reduced energy consumption. Wastage on-site is sorted to ensure the maximum amount of material can be recycled.

What smart irrigation systems can help the Qatar International Golf Club?

While we are talking about smart irrigation systems, I rarely hear and read about that vast technology development in the last couple of years that enable golf clubs to achieve water usage efficiency by providing more accurate data to superintendents. For instance, about companies like Soil Scout (a possible alternative to Toro Sensor System) who is using moisture, temperature or salinity sensors to provide 365×24 monitoring at the root level, regardless of the season.
Another interesting solution in OnGolf USA‘s cloud-based decision support platform that combines weather management, water management, labor management, pesticide management, nutrient management, and playing condition.
Would you believe that drone technology can support superintendents’ work? Greensight Agronomics has developed a new kind of drone technology that combines advanced sensors and data analytics. They claim that their solution can help optimize water usage, pesticide, antifungal, and fertilizer treatments while maximizing the performance of your turf.
It was a pleasant surprise for me to hear about the European Commission‘s wireless distributed intelligent system the WaterGolf (kicked off in January 2013; sensor-based; wireless network) for irrigation optimization and early turf disease prevention and treatment on golf courses.
The use of such smart technologies will also result what we have already seen in other industries the appearance of Big Data. This can create a previously unknown position (or task) in a golf club: the data analyst (~turf intelligence).

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