Ecological experiment underway at Cottonwood Creek course in Texas

Ecological experiment underway at Cottonwood Creek course in Texas
By Sean Dudley

An ecological experiment is aiming to re-establish prairie vegetation at the Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco, Texas.

Representatives from the US Golf Association and the city of Waco are working alongside Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and ecologists from Baylor University to establish 30 stands of prairie vegetation of rough.

Jim Moore of the US Golf Association oversaw the fitting of GPS devices to hundreds of golfers at Cottonwood Creek to determine which areas of the course were covered by foot infrequently enough to be converted to prairie vegetation. The results found large areas of land that in the main were not ventured onto by golfers.

The prairie sections will require minimal maintenance, only requiring mowing once a year and no watering, and will be planted with sideoats grama, Indiangrass, firewheel, bluebonnets, coreopsis and little bluestem, which should attract the local wildlife.

It is hoped that the techniques established at Cottonwood Creek can be replicated at other similar sites.

“We want to lead the way,” golf course superintendent JD Franz told the Waco Tribune. “We want to show that we’re trying as much as we can to conserve water. People might come out and say, ‘I like this kind of native landscape.’ ”

Other work at Cottonwood Creek will see the installation of a new irrigation system on the course’s tee boxes. This will reduce the area of irrigated hybrid bermudagrass, saving around eight million gallons of water annually, equating to a tenth of Cottonwood’s total water use.

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