Friday, September 21, 2012

Tee Irrigation Upgrades Will Improve Efficiency, and Help the Environment by Making the Tees "Greener"

This fall, we are continuing the four year renovation and upgrade to the tee portion of the irrigation system, vastly improving how it operates.  For 2012, we will install new valving, pipe, wire and sprinklers on holes #2, 5, 8, 12, and 13.

There are several reasons why this change is needed.  The original irrigation system was a "wall to wall" design, with sprinklers located from one side of the golf course to the other, spaced 80 feet apart.  While this works well during the grow-in phase of a golf course, it doesn't allow for water to be placed only where needed.  Because of the current spacing, it takes 40% as much water to irrigate the tees as it does the fairways, even though tee acreage is only 15% of fairway acreage.  With many tees being surrounded by Fescue (which should not be irrigated), it's clear that our current system doesn't allow targeting solely the tee surface.

In contrast to this, the new tee design enables us to focus on only irrigating what needs it.  The new layout calls for sprinklers to be spaced 40-45 feet apart.  This will allow for the installation of part circle sprinklers located on the perimeter of the tees.  While the old sprinklers used 45 gallons per minute, the new, smaller heads will use only 15 gpm.  In most locations, the design is similar to what’s used on a desert golf course, with only the tee surface receiving water.  Water conservation is a real benefit of this project.

In addition to more efficient sprinklers, the new design will also change to a better type of piping.  HDPE (high-density polyethylene) will replace the current PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe.  Why make this switch?  Well, HDPE has many advantages over PVC, including better ability to bend, greater impact resistance, better freeze tolerance, and improved surge tolerance. 

Furthermore, the PVC we have is gasketed pipe, and is held in place primarily by the weight of the soil.  During the system start up this past spring, wet soils allowed a section of pipe to move, and pull out of its gasket, causing a leak.   With HDPE, this type of problem will no longer be a concern, since HDPE is considered a monolithic system— a process called "fusion" joins pipe and fittings together, and results in a connection that is as strong as the original pipe.  So, with HDPE you have no gaskets and no glue fittings to worry about.  And, if that's not enough, HDPE is significantly "greener" than PVC, whose production releases chlorine-based chemicals.       

This significant improvement to the course's infrastructure is going to take a few weeks this fall, and will require the use of some large equipment.  However, we will do everything possible to minimize the disruption to play, including requiring the contractor to work on only one hole at a time.  While a particular hole is under construction we will move the tee markers forward in order to keep the hole open for play.  We appreciate your understanding of the disruption during this time, and know that from both an environmental and playability perspective this will help keep the course green!  
The contractor is making good progress on the installation of new tee sprinklers.

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