High Ridge Country Club - Lantan, Florida, USA - Satelite Imagery / GPS As-Built Glossy Wall Ma

GPS Mapping, Satellite Imagery, Aerial Photography and Contour Mapping Services

Does your course have an accurate current as-built of the irrigation system?

More than likely not.  It is probably less likely that you have a current and accurate aerial photograph or satellite image.

Nearly anyone associated with the golf course can benefit from an accurate as-built and especially and aerial photograph or satellite image.

Superintendents – For a superintendent an accurate as-built drawing of the irrigation system is critical to the daily and operation, troubleshooting and maintenance of the system.  Additionally, the ability to know the accurate area calculations of all the golf course features such as greens, tees, fairways, roughs and bunkers is critical to properly purchase materials and apply fertilizer and chemicals.

General Managers – The aerial photograph can be an extremely valuable tool to the General Manager to help in planning and communicating with the staff, boards and membership.

Golf Professionals – Golf professionals can use the aerial photograph to assist in tournament preparations as well as daily play alerts.

Boards – Boards will find the aerial photos beneficial when they are evaluating the long-range plans and activities of the management staff.  they are also every effective in helping explain new projects the club may be soon undertaking or voting upon.

Membership – The membership will find them interesting and beneficial to help know their course better and show to their friends who may be joining them for a round. 

Architects – Architects will find them extremely helpful in their long-range planning and design strategy as well the ability to add existing contours.

List of Services

Please review the complete list of ATI GPS Mapping, Satellite imagery Aerial Photography and Contour Mapping services below.  Each service is explain in detail later in the blog.  Contact the ATI office nearest you for more information and a proposal.  It may cot less than you think.

  • Aerial Photography and Satellite Imagery Base Map With Area Calculations
  • Aerial Photography Combined with GPS of In-Ground Irrigation Components 
  • Add GPS Mapping of Irrigation and Drainage Points                                                                           
  • Add Mainline and Lateral Piping
  • Aerial Photography Contour Mapping
  • GPS Green Contour Mapping

The Process

ATI combines Satellite Imagery or  Aerial Photography along with GPS mapping to provide the most accurate and visually rich as-built available.

In order for the GPS mapping of the irrigation, drainage or other points such as sprinklers, valves quick couplers and drain inlets to be accurately overlaid on a satellite image requires the satellite imagery or aerial photography to go through a special “orthorectification” process.  Orthorectification is a process in which aerial photos are adjusted to correct distortions due to topographic relief, lens distortion, and camera tilt.  These geometrical corrections will mean that the scale of the photograph is uniform.  Unlike an uncorrected aerial photograph (Google Earth), a orthophotograph can be used to measure true distances, angles and areas.  This orthorectification takes the curvature of the earth out of the satellite image and flattens it so the GPS and  image accurately match.  We have access to such imagery in most areas of the world. The resolution and quality of the photo allows for a very clear picture when zooming as you can see below in the image from a course in Beijing, China.  As you can see many different dates and cloud cover percentages can be available.

Orthorectified Satellite Image - Shadow Creek Golf Club, Beijing, China (Chart Indicates Dates of Photos Available and % Cloud Cover)

Orthorectified Satellite Image – Shadow Creek Golf Club, Beijing, China
(Chart Indicates Dates of Photos Available and % Cloud Cover)

Below is a screen shot from a Google Earth image of the same course in which you can see the distortion of the lens angle, but the curvature distortion is hard to see with the eye but it can be significant.

Google Earth Image Distortion

Google Earth Image Distortion

The services are available in a number of ways to meet your budget such as initially providing only the satellite imagery with the area calculations.  The irrigation and drainage points can be then added later at any time as funds become available.

Orthorectified Satellite Image - Master Course at Laguna Golf Club, Singapore

Orthorectified Satellite Image – Master Course at Laguna Golf Club, Singapore

As you can see from the sample,  the as-built on high gloss paper offers a high quality as-built great to hang on your wall.  The as-built is great for working with your staff, board members and membership.  The image can also be incorporated to interface with any manufacturers irrigation software.

High Ridge Country Club - Lantan, Florida, USA - Satelite Imagery / GPS As-Built Glossy Wall Ma

High Ridge Country Club – Lantana, Florida, USA – Satellite Imagery / GPS As-Built Glossy Wall Map

Aerial Photography and Satellite Imagery Base Map With Area Calculations

ATI can provide new high-resolution satellite imagery or a flown aerial photograph of the entire golf course or property depending on your location. The photography will be used to produce a orthorectified image of the site with 0.5’ to 2′ ground pixels. AutoCAD drafting will then be performed on all site features to create a golf course base map. The map will include all the golf course features such as greens, tees, fairways, bunkers, roughs, landscaping plus cart paths, building locations, roads, bridges, driveways, water bodies, railroads, transmission lines, power poles, fences, and grouped tree outlines. A scorecard view of the total area (square feet or meters) of greens, tees, bunkers, roughs and fairways per hole is provided. The as-built drawings will be provided in color on individual sheets at industry standard scales, scaled to fit on a single sheet ready for wall mounting plus 11”x 14” color laminated sheets per hole bound in a book format. The data will also be provided in a digital format.

Option 1 – Irrigation & Drainage Component Point Drafting

ATI provides on site sub-meter precision GPS mapping of the following points:

  • Sprinklers
  • Mainline Isolation Valves
  • Lateral Isolation Valves
  • Quick Couplers
  • Specialty Valves
  • Satellite Locations
  • Wire Splices
  • Drain Inlets
  • Mainline Pipe Routing

Please note that the use of utility vehicle provided by customer. Also, all point locations must be flagged in advance by the customer prior to mapping by ATI.  Also, mainline routing must be painted on the ground in advance by the customer prior to GPS mapping.

Option 2 – Irrigation Pipe, Wire and Control Drafting

ATI provides AutoCAD drafting of the following irrigation components:

  • Lateral Pipe Routing
  • Station Numbers

Please note that GPS data from Option 1 is provided by ATI to  the customer for penciling-in of the lateral pipe routing and station numbers prior to drafting.

Aerial Photography and Contour Mapping

Proper land planning and golf course design requires accurate site and contour mapping. ATI can use the aerial photograph base maps or satellite imagery to produce scaled planimetric and topographic mapping with 1 foot, .5 meter or larger contour intervals based on your needs and budget. This will then be used to produce a orthorectified image of the site with a 0.5’ ground pixel. AutoCAD drafting and sophisticated software will be used to create a contour map of the golf course with elevations. All the features of the Aerial Photography Base Map will also be included.

Please note that either aerial photography or satellite imagery requires clear skies and proper scheduling.  Make sure you allow adequate time in your planning process to accommodate the process.  Additional time may be required depending on your location in the world.

GPS Green Contour Mapping

On some courses it is important during greens renovation to rebuild the green to the exact contours.  ATI utilizes precision GPS technology to attain all green topographic information at 1/10th foot contour intervals on putting surface including 5-10’ off the green surface.

 Please Note This Service May Not Be Available In All Locations

Deliverables

All drawings will be provided in color on individual sheets at industry standard scales, scaled to fit on a single sheet ready for wall mounting plus 11”x 14” color laminated sheets per hole bound in a book format.  The data will also be provided in a digital format.

Contact the ATI office nearest you for more information and a proposal.  It may cost less than you think.

Samples of Deliverables - Glossy Wall Map, Laminated Books, As-Built Scaled Drawings

Samples of Deliverables – Glossy Wall Map, Laminated Books, As-Built Scaled Drawings

ATI Attends China Golf Show in Beijing

The China Golf Show was held in Beijing MArch 22 – 24, 2013.  ATI was represented by Jim Schumacher, President of ATI and Thomas Muller of ATI-China.  ATI has attended the China Golf Show for many years and the activity and interest at the show seemed to be greater than in recent years.

China Golf Show 2013China Golf Show 2013

Several architects were exhibiting and most of them were extremely busy.  The interest in the show can surely be attributed to the success of young Chinese golfers such as:

  • Shanshan Feng, major champion on the LPGA tour at the 2012 LPGA Championship
  • Andy Zhang, a 14-year-old who qualified fo the 2012 US Open
  • Guan Tianlang, another 14-year-old who earned a berth at the US Masters by winning the championship at the , Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand in late 2012.
  • Lian Wen Chong, 2007 Order of Merit on the Asian Tour, the first Chinese golfer to make the cut at a major, The Open Championship at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club, and set a new course record at Whistling Straits with his 8-under 64 in the third round of the 2010 PGA Championship.

In addition, Greg Norman, former long time world #1 and winner of two Majors, has
been hired by the Chinese Golf Association (CGA) to act as a mentor and help
develop a training program for its young players as they try to qualify for Rio
Olympics.  Golf is obviously trending in the right direction. 

DSC01535

Unfortunately, there are still many obstacles to overcome for golf to reach its potential development in China and most of Asia such as land acquisition, development cost and the lack of affordable public golf.   During the trip we visited a local driving range to find the facility brimming with new golfers.  The cost for 100 balls was $9, not exactly affordable for the average Chinese national or anyone for that matter.  Almost all the golf courses in China are private or extremely expensive as with most of Asia.  Until these obstacles are overcome golf will never meet its true potential in the region.

We are hopeful that with more success of Chinese golfers the government will join the cause and help provide affordable public golf to its’ citizens such as the many municipal courses available  in the USA and other parts of the world.

ATI Welcomes New China, Taiwan and Korea Associate

Aqua Turf International, Inc. the world’s leader in international irrigation design is proud to announce our new associate for China, Taiwan and Korea.

ThomasMullerlogo
Thomas Muller

Thomas Muller ( 穆乐 ) received a BTEC Higher National Diploma from Beijing Finance and Economic College in 2006 with a major in English and International Business Management.  He spent the next several years furthering his education with a sharp focus on Golf Course Management attending both the University of Sunderland and Elmwood College in Scotland.  He received the Professional Development Award In Golf Management from Elmwood in 2009 and the prestigious Higher National Certificate of St. Andrews International Golf Qualification in 2010.  He began to apply his education and develop his practical experience in Scotland as well working at Gleneagles PGA Centenary Golf Course, Duke’s Golf Course and Elmwood Golf Course.  His English skills are extremely valuable in his role with ATI and were better developed while employed as a Tourist Guide and Caddy on Fife, Scotland golf courses including the Old Course at St. Andrews.  Upon his return to China Le Mu applied his turf management skills as the assistant superintendent at Jinhai Lake Resort, a  Jack Nicklaus Signature Course north of Beijing.  In that role he worked closely with ATI during the layout, installation and inspection of the irrigation system.

Thomas’s international education and practical experience at the some of the world’s best golf courses  combined with his command of the English language make him a tremendous asset to our ATI team.  His knowledge and ability to coordinate between the golf designer and local Chinese staff will insure the job is done right and there is no miscommunication.  His skills combined with the decades of knowledge and support from the worldwide ATI team is unmatched by any other irrigation consulting firm in China.

Thomas will be based in Beijing.  ATI now has four world-wide offices to help meet your irrigation design and consulting needs anywhere in the world.

You may contact Thomas at thomas@aquaturfintl.com

Satellite Versus Decoder Control System

During the irrigation design process a decision must be made to choose a satellite or decoder style control system.  The decision must be made soon after the irrigation design starts so the design can be completed without delay.

Satellite systems have been the most widely used for several decades and are currently considered the conventional style of control.  A satellite is a remotely located electrical control box that can operate multiple sprinklers from a single location.  The satellite offers programmability to control what day and time the sprinklers operate and for how long.  Grounding of the system is performed at each satellite.  One or more satellites are typically installed per hole depending on the number of sprinklers.  From the satellite 24-volt wires are installed from each satellite to one or two sprinklers to operate them.  Electrical supply wire must be run to each satellite.  In most cases communication wire is also run from each satellite back to a central computer.  The central computer can then be used to easily control the operation of the satellites rather than operating from each satellite independently.

TYPES OF DECODER SYSTEMS

Decoder systems have been in existence for decades but until recently have been only used in limited areas such as Europe and the Northeastern United States.  Enhancements in the systems such as expanded capacity (number of stations) and improved reliability have made their use  more compatible in other areas and they are now installed in all regions.  There are varying types of decoder systems based on the manufacturer and each have certain nuances.  When comparing decoder systems they should not all be assumed to be installed and operated the same.  A decoder system may or may not have satellites.

 Central Only Decoder System

Decoders

Decoders

The most common form of decoder system does not utilize satellites.  Instead, decoder communication wire is installed throughout the course.  The decoders are small coded digital devices that can actuate single or multiple stations from the same decoder.  Also different decoders have different capacities for operating multiple sprinklers from the same station.  The number of stations per decoder and simultaneous stations can vary by manufacturer.  There is no need for power wire since the power and communion are both carried by the same wire.  Elimination of the power wire helps reduce some of the total cost of a satellite system.  Since there are no satellites all control of the irrigation system must be performed from the central computer.  There are limitations in the number of decoders per wire path from the central and these can vary by manufacturer.  Also, since there is no backup form of irrigation the fewer sprinklers per path limits the number of sprinklers that could be out of service at any time.  Most decoder systems offer diagnostics to help locate any wire or decoder problems.

There are two types of decoder system designs:

  •  At-Sprinkler
  • Off Fairway

At Sprinkler

In an “At-Sprinkler” design the decoders are either manufactured in or attached to the sprinkler.  Communication wire is run from the central computer to the all the decoders (sprinklers) in the system.  Since there are no satellites, surge arrestors and ground rods are strategically located along the communication wire spaced to limit the damage from lightning strikes between the ground points.  The spacing of the grounding can vary per manufacturer.  Any troubleshooting or repairs to the decoders would require the work to be performed at the sprinklers.

Off Fairway

In an “Off Fairway” design the decoders are located away from the sprinklers, typically in the lateral isolation valve box along the mainline.  Smaller decoder to sprinkler wire is then run from the decoders down the lateral pipe to each individual sprinkler.  The distance of these wires is limited and varies per manufacturer.  The communication wire from the central computer to the all the decoders in the system and grounding requirements are similar .  Since the decoders are remotely located away from the sprinklers any troubleshooting or repairs to the decoders would be performed out of the fairway in the valve boxes.

Satellite Decoder System

In a satellite decoder system the system is identical to a typical satellite system in all every way except that the 24v wire from the satellite is changed to a decoder communication wire and decoders are then located at the sprinkler or off fairway as discussed above.

SELECTING THE SYSTEM THAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU

The several factors that should be evaluated in making the choice of which system is best for you.

  • Turf  Irrigation Requirement
  • Lightning Potential and Frequency
  • Contractor Experience and Capability
  • Maintenance Staff Experience and Capability
  • System Size
  • Irrigation System Installation Budget
  • Course Quality Desired
  • Construction Schedule
  • Repair and  Service Capability of the Course and Local Distributor

We have designed hundreds of irrigation systems worldwide with both satellite and decoder styles.  We currently have both decoder and satellite systems in design now so we are completely knowledgeable about their use and application.  Both satellite and decoder systems have the applications where they should best be used.  The decision is not just a one size fits all.  Satellite and decoder systems are offered by all manufacturers so there are no competitive advantages or disadvantages to one or the other.  Based on our experience our recommendation as to which system to design can vary based on the criteria listed above.  Please contact ATI to help review the criteria so we can help you select the system that is best for you.  An option also exists to design and bid both a satellite and decoder the system so the actual costs can be evaluated but additional design fees would apply.

Listed below are some of the advantages and disadvantages to both the satellite and decoder systems.

Decoder  Advantages

  • Decoder  systems are typically less expensive.
  • No satellites in view.
  • No spare 24v wires are needed since the communication wire can be added to anywhere      making adding valves easier.

Decoder Disadvantages

  • Decoder systems offer no field backup in case of failure of decoders, communication wire or the central computer.
  • Central computer needs to be installed and programmed in the maintenance building prior to planting to operate the sprinklers
  • All irrigation must be performed from the central computer unless satellite decoder systems are utilized.
  • The Contractor must be highly experienced in the installation of decoder systems
  • Operator requires technical experience and training
  • Additional grounding is required (+50 Locations).

Satellite Advantages

  • Irrigation can be performed from the satellites before the central computer is installed allowing each hole to be operated and planted as it is installed.
  • Grounding can be accomplished, measured and maintained at each satellite location (+/-20      Locations).
  • Satellites are easily operated by many on a golf course staff.

Satellite Disadvantages

  • Need To Be Located Out of Visibility of Players.
  • Higher Installation Costs per Station.
  • 24v Wires Need To Be Installed From the Satellite To Add Sprinklers at a Later Date

The best applications for decoder systems are projects that meet a majority of the following criteria:

  •  Low Incidence of Lightning
  • Limited Irrigation Requirement
  • Smaller In Scope
  • Renovation of An Existing Golf Course or Irrigation System
  • Staff Experienced In Decoder Use and Operation
  • Low or Limited Budget
  • Daily Manual Operation Is Required On a Limited Basis

Low Incidence of Lightning

Is lightning a factor in your area.  Also, the type of soil on the project may increase the difficulty in achieving good grounds and lightning protection.  If so, grounding can be more easily improved at satellite locations (20+/-) than at the many surge arrestor locations (50-60+/-) required on a decoder system.  Additional ground rods and surge plates can be installed at the satellite locations as well as surge arrestors in the pedestals on the 24v, 220v and communication wire.

Decoder systems offer no backup operation in case of failure of decoders, communication wire to decoders or the central.  If lightning strikes and the surge arrestors do their job the damage may be limited to the decoders located between the arrestors.  Surge arrestors are recommended every 150 – 300 meters along the communication wire.  If they are located every 150 meters then 30 – 40 decoders could be located between arrestors that are at risk of a strike.  Rain Bird recommends no more than 10 decoders between surge arrestors so then additional grounding is required.   If a damaging strike occurs and the arrestors work many of the decoders between would need to be replaced along with the surge arrestors.  Most decoders can withstand 1 – 6 Kv depending on the location and installation.  According to The Computer Wizard, “Lightning current averages 30,000 amps, but ranges from 10,000 to 200,000 amps – 100 To 1,000 times as strong as a steel welder.”  If the arrestors don’t work, the damage can spread to other decoders and possibly the central.  For more lightning data go to http://www.thecomputerwizard.biz/lightning.htm.

If there is little lightning, then decoders are a good alternative.

We specify lightning protection for satellite systems as developed by the American Society of Irrigation Consultants utilizing ground rods and ground plates.  This grounding can be easily expanded as needed at the 20+/- satellite locations to improve the resistance to ground and inductance.  Additional ground rods and ground plates can be added at the satellites and surge arrestors in the pedestals.  Ground plates are very helpful to improve the inductance but are not recommended on decoder systems by the manufacturers.  This would be difficult on decoder system with 50 – 60 surge arrestor/ground locations and defeat the goal of lowering installation costs.  Instead you will replace failed decoders and surge arrestors after storms.

Satellites offer a backup at each hole if lightning damage occurs.  A satellite can be repaired in an out-of-the-way location.  Decoders require digging at each sprinkler interrupting play if an “At Sprinkler” design style is implemented.  The backup for decoders is manual key operation at the sprinkler.  During grow-in this is difficult due to the wet and muddy conditions.  Satellites can offer switches inside the pedestal to operate the sprinklers.   If the central is down due to lightning or any other reason the satellites offer automatic operation for each hole.

Limited Irrigation Requirement

When failures occur, and they will, the needs of the turf may be critical depending on the environment.  Unfortunately lightning storms typically occur during the hottest times of the year when irrigation is most required.  If the problem is significant it can take some time to repair.  Repairs of decoder systems, since it requires digging, can take much longer.  During the summer irrigation can be critical in many areas.  If lost for a few days or a week or more in areas with irrigation demands of 5mm or more turf damage could occur.  In areas of low irrigation reliance then the problem is less severe and decoders are more applicable.

Small In Scope

If the irrigation system is small then the damage would be limited.  On a small system it is not a bug problem to manually operate the system at each sprinkler if decoder system has failures.  The amount of decoders per wire path from the central should be limited to avoid the amount of sprinklers out of operation at a time in case of a wire failure.   In order to limit the number of decoders on a wire path longer wire runs must be installed back to the maintenance location/central computer creating additional splices and further places for problems and increasing the cost of wire.

Renovation or An Existing Golf Course or Irrigation System

Decoder systems require the computer to be programmed with the decoder addresses in order to operate.  Existing systems offer the ability to begin the installation at the central and are much simpler construction projects.  Conversely, a new construction schedule can commence construction at the farthest hole away or anywhere in between.   A maintenance facility may not exist during the construction and planting of the course.  Also, in new construction holes are usually planted as soon as the sprinklers installed.  For a satellite system that is not a problem since the sprinklers can be immediately operated from the satellite to establish the turf.  A decoder system requires the computer to be installed and programmed somewhere along the communication wire to operate the sprinklers.  If the central computer cannot be initially installed at the maintenance building  then the computer must be moved during construction until it can finally be installed at the central computer location, usually in maintenance.  The computer requires a secure and air-conditioned location with power and grounding.  Due to this limitation, the construction and planting schedule should take into account the locations that may be required for the central computer to accomplish the grow-in.  In addition, someone capable of operating the computer is required.  A satellite is simple to operate by many of the staff involved in the construction process.

Staff Experienced In Decoder Use and Operation

Decoder systems are most prevalent in the areas where they are best applied such as the Northeast United States, UK, Scandinavia, Northern Europe or where the turf can survive for 72 hours or more without irrigation.  In the rest of the world most of the superintendents, contractors and distributors are familiar with the installation and operation of satellite systems.  Both systems are installed and operated much differently.  It would be important to hire those who have experience in decoder installation and operation for success.  Also, if decoder systems are not prevalent in the market then the distributors will probably keep less repair parts in stock and employ less qualified service personnel.  Additional parts should be stocked by the course to prepare for problems when they occur.

Low or Limited Installation Budget

Decoder systems can be installed at a lower per station cost since the amount of 24v and 220v wire can be reduced or eliminated.  The costs of the decoders versus satellites is also lower.  The total savings can fluctuate based on the level of control and the amount of investment in lightning protection of satellites and decoders.  The cost of maintenance would be higher on a decoder system if installed in an area of high lightning incidence.

Daily Manual Operation Only Required On a Limited Basis

Manual operation of a decoder system requires the operation from the central computer or a handheld radio communicating through the central.  Both of these require an elevated level of training than that of a satellite system.  If the need for daily manual irrigation is limited or the staff is computer literate this will not be an issue.  Satellite systems can be operated from a simple to run program in the satellite or with manual switches inside the pedestal.

Summary

A reliable irrigation system with adequate manual and automatic control flexibility is a key building block needed in the turfgrass maintenance program of a golf course to meet these standards.    We are not proponents of burying treasure in the ground unnecessarily.  We take our clients money and their investment in the irrigation system very seriously.  Our Mission“is to ensure quality turf and irrigation standards that meet or exceed the customer’s agronomic, economic and environmental needs while operating in a timely, efficient and cooperative manner.  Our systems are designed to maximize the money spent to insure the 25 – 30 year investment in the system.  This requires the right products designed and specified, properly installed and maintained.  Inferior products will not meet the maintenance and operation needs or the test of time.

In making your decision below are some questions you will need to honestly answer in order to purchase the system that is right for you. The answers to these questions will help lead you to the best decision for your course.

  •  Will the course be at risk to lightning ?
  • Based on the grow-in schedule will a decoder system be a limiting factor for the grow-in of the course?
  • How will the decoder system be programmed during the grow-in and by who?
  • Will a decoder system be less flexible to operate after it is installed?
  • How critical is irrigation in case it may be out of service for an extended period?
  • Are decoder systems the standard in the region?
  • Is the additional cost of satellites justified to provide the redundant control?
  • Are the contractors available qualified in the installation of decoder systems?
  • Is the maintenance staff qualified in the maintenance and troubleshooting of a decoder system.

Once you have answered all these questions and weighed the results against the potential savings then the decision should become more clear.  All the manufacturers should provide a full demonstration of their decoder and satellite products so the differences can be evaluated and the right choice made.  You will be living with your decision for many years.  Please let us know if you have any questions or if we can be of assistance in the process.

To download a .pdf printable version of this article please lick the link.Decoder vs Satellite

ATI Golf Irrigation Design Checklist

Once you have fully reviewed the Golf Irrigation Budget Matrix and Guide you can then better complete the “Golf Irrigation Design Checklist”.  Please download the checklist prior to commissioning ATI to design your systemATI Golf Design Checklist ATI will be glad to review the checklist with you to make sure our design matches your needs and budget

The Checklist will help guide you through many of the specific choices  to be made by category before designing the system.  There are even more subtle choices that can be made to reduce costs but the categories in the Matrix are the main choices that need to be made prior to the design.  Additionally, you can also review our article titled Value Engineering Options that is also helpful in determining some other potential cost saving measures.  Many of the cost saving measures can be added at a later date, but some cannot.  We have indicated in the Matrix those that can be added or expanded later and those that cannot.  It is highly recommended that the features that cannot be upgraded or added later be the last to eliminate if budget reductions are needed.  We recommend that the design and bid documents include as many options as possible.  Once the bids have been returned a better determination can be made as to any cuts that need to be made.  We can help you complete the checklist before we commence your irrigation design.

After the design is complete and the bids have been reviewed there may still be need to make further adjustments.

It is best to have fully considered these options prior to design to avoid any possible re-design fees and to expedite the design and bidding process.  Please refer to the ATI Irrigation Design Checklist and Golf Irrigation Budget Planning Matrix Guide for further assistance in assessing your irrigation needs and budget prior to commissioning the design.

Also to facilitate negotiations it is recommended that the material supplier and contractor be selected before these final negotiations take place.

Below is a list of suggested items that could be eliminated.  Click the link to download the list for printing.  Value Engineering Options

Reduce Sprinkler Quantity (Listed first to cut to last to cut)

  1. Reduce Coverage Area
  2. Eliminate Some Perimeter Part Circles (Stub Out Wire, Add at a Later Date)
  3. Replace Triangular Spacing with Rectangular (If Applicable)
  4. Increase Spacing (Regional/ Within SC Limits and Irrigation Reliance Dependent)

Pair Sprinklers vs. Individual Control (In areas more out of play first)

Increase Irrigation Water Window Time

Reduces Pump Flow Rate and  Mainline Size

Substitute Direct Burial for Tray Cable Power Wire (Satellite System)

220V Power vs 120V Power to Reduce Wire Size (Satellite System)

Substitute Thrust Blocks for Joint Restraints – 4” (160mm) and Above (PVC Pipe)

Solvent Weld versus Gasketed Laterals (PVC Pipe)

Substitute Tape for Lavender Pipe (PVC Pipe)

Eliminate Additional Equipment

Eliminate Weather Station

Eliminate Yardage Markers

Eliminate Tracer Wire

Eliminate Spare Wires (Satellite System)

Eliminate Triple Top Swing Joints

Reduce Drain Valves

Eliminate Hand Held Operator

Eliminate Filtration

 

ATI Golf Irrigation Budget Planning Matrix

For golf to grow and be profitable we must intelligently manage the cost of golf construction and irrigation in particular.  However, in so doing we need to balance the expectations of the golfers based on what they paid to play or be a member against potential cuts in the irrigation investment and system performance.  Your irrigation system is a serious investment and is critical to the long-term success of your golf course.  Please take the time to review the documents we have provided to help you insure your investment is a wise one.

In our continual efforts at ATI to match the proper system to the client’s needs we have developed the attached Budget Planning Matrix to be used in combination with this document.  Please click the links below to download the complete Budget Planning Matrix, Budget Planning Matrix Notes and the Budget Planning Matrix Guide.

Budget Planning Matrix

Budget Planning Matrix Notes

Budget Planning Matrix Guide

If you are in the process of establishing the budget for your irrigation system we hope that you have first answered the twenty (20) questions we posed in our blog “Golf Irrigation Budget Planning – Considerations for Establishing a Budget and the Level of Irrigation Investment”.  It is important to understand that at ATI, as independent consultants, we do not sell irrigation materials and have nothing to gain or lose by the owner spending more on the irrigation system.  We have decades of experience in golf irrigation systems.  We have also been hired dozens of times to help customers try to fix the problems with the inadequate irrigation systems due to a lack of investment in the beginning.  Our goal is to help you:

  • Do it right the first time
  • Invest your money wisely
  • Create satisfied golfers
  • Reduce you long-term cost of ownership
  • Efficiently utilize your water, power and labor resources
  • Design a system that can be adapted in the future if needed to meet your budget while achieving the goals listed above

In the Matrix and Guide we evaluate each of the key components of the system listed below. The topic of Installation and bidding along with a summary of the Budget Process are also included.

  • Sprinklers and Coverage
  • Pump Station
  • Control System
  • Pipe Fittings and Valves

We also use several tools to help you evaluate each of the key components of the system to help you best determine the importance and value of each irrigation feature.  In this manner you can best decide the areas that you can consider reducing costs and those that require more investment.

Those tools include:

  • Irrigation Reliance
  • Star Rating
  • Cost Saving Percentage
  • Efficiency Loss Percentage
  • Playability Loss Percentage

Irrigation Reliance

The first consideration is to accurately determine your irrigation reliance.  If your system is in Northern Sweden your irrigation reliance will be much lower than that of Dubai.  This document assumes a reasonably high reliance on irrigation which is typically the case.  Areas with a low reliance on irrigation are normally places that are not well suited for golf in the first place due to the poor  weather conditions.   It should be noted that even areas that are cold and rainy for much of the year can have very hot and dry summers, so don’t be fooled.  If the season is short your clientele will have high expectations when the weather is good.

Star Rating

There are several choices that need to be made that directly affect the budget and design.  In an effort to simplify these choices we have assigned a One (*) to Five (*****) Star Rating to each category.  Based on the rating level where you want your course belong in the marketplace these ratings may help.  If you think you will have a Five-Star golf course with a Two or Three Star irrigation system you are kidding yourself.  It may work for a while right after grow-in, but sooner than later you will pay the price.

Cost Saving Percentage

Savings in the cost of the irrigation system are realized as you move down the rating scale from 5-Star (*****) to 1-Star (*).  For the sake of simplified evaluation we are assuming that the 5-Star (*****) irrigation system in the Matrix is the most expensive.  We then deduct from that cost based on the lower rated product or design choices.  We used percentages rather than currency since this is a worldwide generalized document and cost can vary significantly around the world based on duty, shipping and other factors.  ATI can assist in developing a more detailed evaluation if you so desire to determine the potential costs for each category.  The bidding process will provide the final accurate cost which can then be negotiated to meet you budget.  The bidding process is described at the end of the Guide.

Unfortunately, cuts in the irrigation investment come with a price in reduced efficiency and playability of the golf course. We have included in the Matrix an Efficiency Loss Percentage and a Playability Loss Percentage were applicable to help you quantify the long-term effects of the cuts you are considering prior to making them.

Efficiency Loss Percentage

In addition to the Star Rating consideration should be given to the long-term ” Cost of Ownership” versus the system purchase price.  Some of these costs of ownership that could be increased from a lack of investment in your irrigation system include:

  • Water Cost and/or availability
  • Power Cost
  • Labor Cost
  • Cost of Ongoing Repairs
  • Lost Revenues Due To Extended Grow-In Time
  • Lost Revenues Due To Lost Membership of Green Fees

Not all irrigation systems operate at the same efficiency.  Irrigation systems all may look like they are throwing water all over the place but the similarities stop there.  Several factors affect the efficiency that we will attempt to explain.  As you make less expensive choices of products and reduce your investment with a lower star rating these choices will also result in reduced efficiency.  To help you quantify these inefficiencies we have added an Efficiency Loss Percentage.  No irrigation system is 100% efficient.  However, for the sake of simplified evaluation we are assuming that the 5-Star (*****) irrigation system in the Matrix is 100% efficient.  We then deduct from that efficiency based on the lower rated product or design choices.  Based on your costs of water, power or and  other potential “Costs of Ownership” you can then roughly determine the long-term cost you will suffer for making a less efficient  choice.    The percentages a relative and not scientific but they are reasonably close based on our experience and knowledge of the products and applications.   ATI can assist in developing a more detailed evaluation if you so desire to determine the potential long-term costs or savings.

Hopefully your costs and availability of water, power and labor are low.  If not then you will have to make the decision to “Pay now or pay later“.  It may be very possible that you need and want a better system but the funds are just not available at the time of construction.  However, they may become available once the course  is open and cash flow is established.  With proper communication we can help design a system that can be upgraded later to meet your needs and your budget.  If not, you will pay more for the life of the irrigation system that is hopefully thirty years or more.

Playability Loss Percentage

When determining your irrigation investment consideration should be given to the reduced playability that your clientele will be faced with due to the cuts made.  Some of these reductions in playability that will result from the lack of investment in your irrigation system include:

  • Increased wet and dry spots detracting from the quality of the turf
  • Soggy fairways making the course play longer and unfair in places such as green approaches
  • Sparse turf in the rough
  • Wet green side bunkers
  • Excessive weed growth in native areas slowing play
  • Unsightly repair holes from digging up and replacing inferior products
  • Irrigation operating during play

Several factors affect the playability that we will attempt to explain.  Like with efficiency, as you make less expensive choices of products and reduce your investment these choices will result in reduced playability.  To help you quantify these downgrades we have estimated a Playability Loss Percentage.  No irrigation system is 100% efficient, but some are 100% playable!  For the sake of simplified evaluation we are assuming that the 5-Star (*****) irrigation system in the Matrix produces a 100% playable course.  We reduced the playability percentage from the 5-Star (*****) 100% rating based on the reductions in the irrigation system performance as the Star Rating declines.  Our percentages are based on our experience and assume a high irrigation reliance during peak season.  Obviously, the playability of any course requires that an equal invest is made in a qualified superintendent as well as adequate equipment and labor.

Please review the Golf Irrigation Budget Planning Matrix Spreadsheet and Guide prior to making decisions that directly affect the cost of your system, how it performs, effects playability and costs to operate.  Once installed, the inadequacies in your irrigation system will be much more costly to fix or upgrade and the repairs will cause serious disruption to your course and customers.   Please do the right planning in advance.  If you do not have enough money to do now what you eventually need, then ATI can work with you to make sure it will be achievable in the future with the least amount of cost and disruption.

Other Related ATI Reference Documents:

  • Golf Irrigation Budget Planning Matrix Spreadsheet
  • Golf Irrigation Budget Planning – “Considerations for Establishing a Budget and Selecting the Level of Irrigation Design and Investment”
  • Irrigation Design Checklist
  • Value Engineering Options
  • Why Hire an Independent Consultant?
  • Satellite versus Decoder Control System Comparison
  • Green Layout With In and Out Part Circle