Author Archives: Jim Schumacher

About Jim Schumacher

Jim Schumacher is the President of Aqua Turf International, Inc., (ATI) a worldwide irrigation design and consulting firm. In his position he manages the Bangkok, Thailand office. ATI also has offices in Salon de Provence , France and Jupiter, Florida, USA. Mr. Schumacher founded ATI in 1996 after a diverse and successful career in golf. He developed his love for golf as a teenager, and was the 1974 Arkansas State High School Golf Champion. As a result, he chose to make golf his career and prepared with a Bachelor of Science degree in Turfgrass Management from Mississippi State University. After school he started his career as a pro/superintendent at two clubs in Alabama and was a member of the Dixie Section of the PGA. After working as both a pro and superintendent he decided to focus his career on the turf side of golf. He acquired his construction and maintenance skills as the Deputy Director of Parks for the City of Huntsville, AL. In that role he became a Certified Golf Course Superintendent and was responsible for renovating and operating two 18-hole public golf facilities, twenty-eight parks and over 100 athletic fields. Also, he directed the installation and operation of the first computerized irrigation control system designed for parks in the eastern United States in 1985. These experiences gave him a complete perspective of golf course construction, maintenance and operations. Mr. Schumacher expanded his irrigation knowledge during a seven-year career as southeastern sales manager for Rain Bird Golf. While in that position Mr. Schumacher was directly involved in golf irrigation sales, field service, training and product development. Mr. Schumacher has broadened his irrigation knowledge as a certified irrigation designer, licensed Texas Irrigator and as a member of the American Society of Irrigation Consultants. Mr. Schumacher’s experience as a golf professional and certified golf course superintendent are significant benefits in helping design quality golf course irrigation systems.

Thai Country Club Uses POGO and Hand Watering To Precisely Apply Greens Irrigation

Brian Distel, Golf Course Superintendent at Thai Country Club in Bangkok, Thailand has implemented a new and advanced method of managing the greens irrigation on a daily basis at Thai Country Club.  The greens are only irrigated by the sprinklers when fertilizer or chemicals are watered in or after cultural practices are performed on Mondays.  All other irrigation during the week is only applied using quick couplers to just the areas in need.  The process begins with accurate and timely soil moisture readings from his portable POGO Soil Moisture Sensors.

The process has been extremely effective providing the following benefits:

  • Improving turf health
  • Eliminate algae on greens
  • Increased root depth
  • Improved playability and golfer satisfaction
  • Reduced water and electricity usage
  • Reduction in fertilizer and chemical applications required

All the greens are measured using a POGO twice a day and then re-checked after hand watering six (6) days per week except for Monday when the course is closed for maintenance and cultural practices such as vertical mowing and topdressing.

The first measurement is taken by the Irrigator starting at 4:30 am.  Eight (8) spots in each green are measured.  Each measurement takes only seconds.  The most time is spent moving from green to green.  The process takes about 2:00 hours per 9 holes with a team working each nine independently.

The data is transferred to the Cloud where it is then available to all who have access such the Irrigators, Supervisors, Superintendent, Golf-Pro and General Manager.   The Supervisor and Irrigator receive the feedback of the soil moisture of each green Immediately on their mobile phones. They then know where and approximately how much to apply on each green.

One of the user friendly features of the POGO is the color-coding of the various soil moisture levels.  These levels are programmable for each course so they can be setup to each courses specific criteria.  Any areas that are not shaded green are then immediately hand-watered.  Once the hand watering is complete the irrigator can then go resume his normal duties.

Many would think the hand watering process would be prohibitively time consuming and arduous.  However, earlier this year Thai Country Club replaced all of their old technology quick couplers with the new L2 quick couplers from Leemco.  The L2 Quick Coupler requires no turning to install so it is much quicker and safe for the irrigator to install and use.  Some of this work is performed in the dark which in the past with old style twisting keys could be difficult.  The key had to align with the slot in the valve which in the dark could be hard to see.  That is no problem with the L2 since it can be installed in any position of the full 360 degree valve stem by just sliding over the top, no slots to locate.  The adjustable flow control feature also lets the irrigator vary the amount of water he wants to apply.  You can see in the video the process is so easy the irrigator turns on the water virtually one handed.

Once this hand watering has been completed the greens are measure again with the POGO by the Supervisor to double check the accuracy of the watering by the irrigator.  The POGO offers a side-by- side comparison of the pre and post hand-watering moisture levels.  This instant feedback is extremely valuable in helping the irrigator learn how much water is needed.  The image below shows the diverse range of green moisture at 8:07 am before hand-watering and then the uniform soil moisture after hand watering.  This clearly shows how much better a playing surface this would provide the golfers!!

The measurement process is then performed again for the 2nd time starting at 1:00 pm in the afternoon.  This is to determine any hot spots that may develop during the day.  Only those in the red shade are then hand-watered and re-checked.  The others are left until morning and the process then repeats itself daily.

Obviously the new and advanced method of managing the greens irrigation on a daily basis at Thai Country Club  that Brian has developed is definitely at the cutting edge of water and turf management.  At Aqua Turf International we preach the concept of the “Right Amount, In the Right Place At the Right Time” and Brian and his team are doing just that.  The POGO and the L2 quick coupler provide them the tools they need to provide the best green condition possible for the members.

Give this method a try; it can work just as well for you!!

Aqua Turf International, Inc., with offices in Jupiter , Florida, USA and Bangkok, Thailand are worldwide leaders in golf irrigation consulting and are irrigation consultants to Thai Country Club.

 

Xili Golf Club – Drone Technology Takes Irrigation Design To the Next Level

An accurate and effective irrigation design starts with an accurate base map.  This is especially true on existing courses.  In the past the base maps for existing courses were really only available through a few alternatives, many of which expensive.

  • Traditional Ground Survey
  • GPS Mapping
  • Aerial photography
  • Google Maps or Other Satellite Images

All of these have some limitations such as:

Traditional Ground Survey – Costly, time consuming and lacking detail since no image is included.

GPS Mapping – Costly, time consuming and lacking detail since no image is included, accuracy can also vary.  Elevation data is often not accurate to the degree required.

Aerial photography – Costly, Flown by a plane so can only reach 1’ resolution.  Planes cannot fly low enough to get the high resolution offered by a low flying drone.  Images can lack resolution depending on cost and source, scaling and curvature of the earth can create issues with accuracy.  Elevation data, if available, can be very expensive.   the reason is they can.

Google or Other Satellite Images – Not expensive but scaling and curvature of the earth can create issues with accuracy.  Quality of the images is typically only fair to poor.  Often multiple images must be stitched together.  Elevation data is poor or not available.  Since the images are gathered by satellites they are usually 18 to 36 months outdated.

A big problem with aerials or satellite images is you cannot see underneath the trees unlike drones that can take horizontal photography as well allowing you to see under the canopy.

Traditional Ground Survey Lacking Detail

Google Satellite Map With Poor Resolution

Fortunately, drone technology now offers a new and improved method to create quick and less expensive high resolution base maps of your golf course or other property.  Drone images offer the following advantages:

  • Inexpensive
  • Quick
  • Excellent resolution. Detail can be enhanced to a very high level by flying at low altitudes.
  • Elevation contours are accurate and available at .25m intervals or better depending on the camera used.

Xili Golf Club, Shenzhen, China and ATI- Thailand recently collaborated on developing a high resolution base map for the upcoming irrigation renovation of their 36 hole golf course.  The drone images were also highly useful for Nelson & Haworth Golf Course Architects in their golf design on the 9 holes of golf renovation to also be performed as part of the project.

High Resolution Drone Image

Compared to the other base map options you can clearly see the high degree of accuracy that is provided by a drone flown at a lower altitude.  The high degree of accuracy and detail offer the following benefits:

  • Ability to identify existing irrigation components on the ground such as sprinklers and valves.
  • Allows great detail to help accurately locate sprinklers and other components not only in the design process but during construction.
  • The high resolution of the image helps identify other obstacles and factors key in the design such as trees and landscape.
  • Mainline routing and satellite locations can be better analyzed with the enhanced image.
  • The Elevation data provided is critical for pressure loss calculation, especially on hilly sites.
  • Ability to view under the tree canopy.

Drone Images Allow for Highly Accurate Irrigation Designs and As-Built Drawings

Elevation is an important aspect of irrigation design, especially on a hilly site such as Xili Golf Club.  Drone images, if properly processed, can provide accurate contours at .25m intervals.  This data is not only valuable for irrigation design, but also for golf architects during planning and design of golf course renovations.  A drone can  also produce a 4K video of the site and  fly overs of each hole for marketing and other purposes.

.25m Contours Created From Drone Images

Golf Course and Irrigation Planning at Thai Country Club Using Drone Images
(The dark green image is from Google Earth Satellite, much poorer quality)

Beware, there is more to preparing a highly accurate drone map than running out and buying a drone.  Gathering nice images is not difficult and requires little special software and basic computer skills.  However, taking those images and creating scaled geo-referenced maps with contours requires specialized and expensive CAD software, a computer with high capacity graphics and large memory as well as computer and CAD experience.   The 36 hole at Xili Golf Club required nearly 100 images to be referenced together into a single file geo-referenced to the earth.

If you aren’t yet ready for or interested in golf or irrigation renovations drone mapping can help you prepare a highly accurate as-built drawing.  An accurate as-built is extremely important in your irrigation maintenance and can be incorporated into your existing irrigation computer.

Contact ATI at jbs@aquaturfintl.com for more information on Drone Mapping as well as irrigation Design and Consulting.  ATI is the world leader in golf irrigation consulting.

 

The Advantages of Hand Watering – The RIGHT AMOUNT, in the RIGHT PLACE, at the RIGHT TIME!

Over the last 30 years or so we have become spoiled by sophisticated irrigation systems.  Systems today offer computer managed individual sprinkler control.  Some even have weather stations and soil moisture sensors to assist in the scheduling of the irrigation.  These are wonderful tools for golf course superintendents, park and athletic field managers as well as cemeteries to schedule the daily irrigation needs.  This can help insure system wide and even sprinkler specific management of the water on a daily basis.  Sprinklers in these applications generally apply water in radii of 17 – 24 meters depending on the site conditions and design.  Often times during the heat of the day the turf develops dry spots that are only a few square meters in area.  If not irrigated quickly the turf could reach its permanent wilting point and die.

Wet and Dry Areas In Close Proximity

Wet Areas Detract From Play

Today’s sophisticated irrigation systems also have mobile phone access capability to activate sprinklers remotely with the touch of a button from virtually anywhere so the sprinklers can be quickly activated when needed.  A 20m sprinklers radius applies approximately 90 liters per minute (24 gpm) of water over an area of 1,256m2.  In many instances multiple sprinklers are wired together so now the area and amount water applied can grow by a function of 2 or 3 times.  Unfortunately, we have been spoiled by the ease of our sophistication and often times misuse the tool.  Rather than hand watering the dry spot a few square meters in area we turn on a sprinkler or two.  Not only does this waste water, it also applies water in areas not in need causing unnecessary wet spots.  On a golf course these wet spots detract from the playability of the course as well as the turf quality.

“Coning” Sprinklers Long Term Is a Bad Idea

The answer to this dilemma is to go back to the days before sophisticated irrigation and hand water the dry spots.  One of the reasons turning on a sprinkler is normally the method taken to solve the problem is because access to water for hoses on the golf course or park is limited.  Quick couplers are typically only found at greens, tees and in some cases along the perimeters of grass lines on more elaborate systems.  As a result, access to water for hand watering requires “coning” a valve-in-head sprinkler to provide hose access.

When a sprinkler is coned the internal assembly must be removed and replaced with the adapter/hose.  This solves the problem but in the long term is not a good idea.  There are several reasons why coning sprinklers is a bad deal.

  • Requires extra work and time by the operator.
  • Creates additional wear and tear on the sprinkler and the actuator.  Sprinklers were not designed for this process on a regular basis.
  • Pulling of the hoses puts pressure on the sprinkler as the hose is pulled potentially damaging the sprinkler, swing joint and service tee. Typically quick couplers are installed with stabilizer arms to protect against this and sprinklers aren’t.
  • Pulling the hoses takes the sprinkler out of level so its’ performance is jeopardized. The sprinkler will be in need of leveling more often.
  • Anywhere a part circle sprinkler is removed for coning, when it is replaced it is almost impossible for the operator to put the sprinkler back in with the same arc adjustments as it was originally set causing other problems down the road.

The answer is to have your course setup to allow complete access by hose from quick couplers located adjacent to sprinklers in the fairways and roughs in addition to the typical greens and tees.   A good rule of thumbs is to have a quick coupler installed so they are spaced no more than 200’ (60m) apart. In that way a 100’ hose from each sprinkler could meet in the middle.  I know that sounds like a lot, but in actuality it really isn’t.

Below you will see a sample hole design with the quick couplers spaced as described with the QC’s spaced no more than 200’ (60m) apart.

400 Yard Par 4 Requires (22) Quick Coupling Valves for Complete Coverage

In the example the gray coverage circles are a 100’ in diameter showing the end of a 100’ hose.  In this example the quick couplers were spaced to the far left side of the hole to allow for coverage deep into the adjacent native grass.  If they were shifted more to the middle the quantity would have been less.   For a typical golf course the quick couplers required for complete hose access would be between 350 – 380 per course.  Quick couplers are far less expensive to install than sprinklers since there is no electronics, control or wire required.  Adding quick couplers will give you a biing bang for the money spent and they are easy to install.  All you need is a saddle, swing joint and q quick coupling valve.

Adding quick couplers to allow hose access to your entire course will save you money in:

  • Labor – Quicker than coning a sprinkler
  • Repairs – Less wear and tear on sprinklers and fittings
  • Water
  • Power

Additionally, you will eliminate your dry spots without adding to your wet spot problems, making your turf look better  and course play firmer and faster.

Start a quick coupler addition program so you can “the right amount of water in the right place at the right time” every time!!

The RIGHT AMOUNT, in the RIGHT PLACE, at the RIGHT TIME! – Raevo Golf Club, Moscow, Russia

Empire Hotel & Country Club – Irrigation Upgrade Turns Out the Lights On Waste

Empire Hotel & Country Club in Brunei completed the full upgrade of their irrigation system earlier this year.   The Empire is known as one of the most stunning hotels in Asia if not the world with its stunning location, architecture and service.  The Jack Nicklaus designed golf course is equally as magnificent as the hotel.

The Empire Hotel & Country Club – A Stunning 5-Star Experience

However, the irrigation system was 20 years old and in need of improvement for the property to maintain its’ high standards.  Due to the age of the system they were experiencing several problems such as:

  • Broken and leaking fittings
  • Antiquated sprinklers
  • Non-functional satellites
  • Inferior green sprinkler layout
  • No central control

Jon Scott, President of Nicklaus Design Agronomy Services at the time, recommended Aqua Turf International, Inc. (ATI) to Empire to provide irrigation consulting and design services.  Soon after the introduction ATI got busy working with management to design an irrigation system to meet their needs.  Located near the ocean and with some significant elevation change the irrigation challenges were great.  Also, Empire is a bit unique in that much of their play comes in the evenings under the lights so the players can avoid the sun and heat.  Unfortunately, there was no automation to the lights so often the lights would be left on much longer than needed.  This would waste power and decrease the life of the expensive bulbs which are also difficult to replace.  Staff time was also required for their manual operation.

James Schumacher, President of ATI and lead designer on the project, had previously designed and installed irrigation systems capable of controlling ball field lights in Huntsville, Alabama, USA before.  Now was the perfect time to not only design an efficient irrigation system in terms of water use but to use that experience to also design a system to save power and labor required for the lights.

Significant Lighting of the Golf Course Now Controlled By the Toro Lynx Decoder System

James Gordon, golf course superintendent, was highly involved in every step of the design and installation.  As a Country Club and Five-Star Hotel the expectations of the clientele are high.  James was instrumental in seeing that all the details were attended to and performed in the hotels and members best interests.

During the pre-design planning of the irrigation system a decoder style control system was selected for various reasons.  The decoder style system complicated the design somewhat compared to a conventional satellite system.  ATI worked closely with Toro to insure the proper control relays, decoders, wiring and other switching materials required were designed and installed correctly.  To our knowledge this is the first of its kind.  With over 190 individually controlled light poles on the course the lighting greatly increased the size of the control system which had to be taken into consideration.   Now the lights can be operated fully automatically saving time and expensive power costs.

There was more to the irrigation system than just lights.  Since the course was in play for members and guests during the entire installation it was important that the workmanship was done to a high standard with little disruption to play.  The system was installed by J & J, the local Toro distributor, by cutting the sod, installing the pipe and wire, compacting and then replacing the sod.  The photos show that after installation there was little disruption to the turf.  Other challenges included several active road crossings and protecting the beautiful trees and landscape

Limited Disruption of Play While Cutting the Sod, Installing the Pipe and Wire, Compacting Soil and Then Replacing the Sod.

After the Installation There Was Little Disruption to the Turf

Challenges Included Several Active Road Crossings and Protecting the Beautiful Trees and Landscape

The pipe and fittings were high quality HDPE with Leemco Ductile iron valves all supplied by CMF Global from the USA.  Toro Infinity sprinklers featuring SMART ACCESS were selected so the decoders could be easily serviced without digging.

Keeping the Monkeys Out, Not In

A weather station was installed to assist the superintendent in monitoring the weather and adjusting the daily ET and run times.  Not surprisingly monkeys can be seen everywhere on the course.  In this case the cage was used to keep the monkeys out and not in!

A new state of the art INTA fertigation system was installed into the existing FLOWTRONEX pump station.  Fortunately, the pump station had been replaced just a few years earlier and was of adequate capacity.

 

 

ATI provided site inspection and programming services to insure the system was laid out, installed and programmed to the specifications.

The improved irrigation on the greens provides much more uniform coverage of the water than before.  The central control system with individual sprinkler control gives James the tools to dial in the water so the course can be kept much drier than ever before.  The playability of the course has greatly improved not to mention the quality of the turf as seen in the photos below.  Also no time is wasted on continual repairs and the members and guests aren’t burdened with irrigation repair holes dug up all over the course.

Uniform Coverage of Properly Designed and Installed Greens Irrigation

Turf Quality and Playability Are At An All Time High

Irrigation System Is Now a Valuable Asset and No Longer a Liability

The investment in the irrigation system combined with the professional management provided by James and his staff has paid off in improved course conditions, increased play, lower operating costs and improved customer satisfaction.

If your course experiences similar problems or is not at the level of condition you desire a good start is to get a System Analysis from ATI performed as soon as possible.  You can then know what is required to give your staff the tools they need to do their job at a high level.

If you are considering a renovation don’t forget your lighting needs too which can help justify the renovation even more!  Contact Aqua Turf International if you are interested in an irrigation renovation so you can turn out the lights on your waste too!

 

Nikanti Golf Club –Reaping Benefits of Recent Irrigation Upgrade

Nikanti Golf Club in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, just outside of Bangkok, is reaping the benefits of their recent irrigation upgrade.  Even though the course hadn’t even been officially opened the inadequacies of the original installation showed up quickly.  The limitations included:

  • Undersized mainline and pump station resulting in excessive watering window.
  • Dead end mainline on some holes resulting in limited flow capacity and low pressure in many areas.
  • Excessive and irregular spacing with poor uniformity.
  • Poor sprinkler locations and nozzling with fairway sprinklers throwing well onto green surfaces.
  • Multiple sprinklers paired together (2 – 4) compounding the poor sprinkler spacing and low pressure.
  • Poor green sprinkler layout, locations and uniformity.  Sprinklers from off the greens throwing onto the greens, limited surround sprinklers around and behind many greens and poor green sprinkler locations causing overwatering of the approach and green surfaces.
  • Poor tee and fairway sprinkler layout and excessive spacing.

As a result, the course was suffering from:

  • Wet and dry spots
  • Excessive salt buildup
  • Algae on greens, approaches and fairways
  • Inability to apply adequate irrigation during peak demand
  • Excessive power and water use
  • Poor turf quality
  • Unsatisfactory playability

The golf course design at Nikanti Golf Club is not your typical flat course as many in the Bangkok area are.  The course features significant undulations in the fairways, roughs and even some greens with large runoffs from many of the elevated greens.  The irrigation system in conditions such as these requires an even higher degree of control to have the capability to adapt the application rate to meet the diverse conditions.  The original irrigation system was not designed to meet these challenges.

Undulation2

Significant Undulations In the Fairways, Roughs and Even Some Greens With Large Runoffs From Many of T\the Elevated Greens Create Many Irrigation Challenges

ATI was initially contacted by Hamish McKendrick (Agronomist) and Brad Revill (Golf Course Superintendent) to perform an Irrigation System Analysis and Long Range Plan.  The purpose of the analysis was to help independently identify the problems and make recommendations to the ownership to remedy the problems. Unfortunately, at the time the system was less than a year old and the course not yet open for play.  Accepting these limitations and significant additional costs was difficult to explain and for the ownership understand initially.

However, after reviewing the findings of the system analysis submitted by ATI and seeing the poor conditions the ownership wisely committed to implement most of the ATI recommendations. J & J, the local Toro distributor, was contracted to implement the upgrade designed by ATI.

ATI prepared an irrigation renovation plan to include the following:

  • Installation of a new Watertronics 681 m3/hr at 8.27 bar (3,000 gpm @ 120 psi) with capacity for a possible future expansion. A significant increase from the original 375 m3/hr at 8.27 bar (1,650 gpm @ 120 psi pump station.
  • Supplemental mainline and increasedmainline size in selected areas to increase flow and reduce pressure loss. The additional main provided looping of the previous dead ends as well.
  • Conversion to individual sprinkler control by adding additional decoders. To accomplish the individual control supplemental decoder communication wire was required due to limitations in the capacity of the original wire installed.
  • Installation of complete new green and surround irrigation.

Fortunately, the contractor and golf course working together allowed these significant renovations to be installed with limited disruption to play.

One year after completion of the renovation the results are obvious when you drive into the property not to mention the tremendously improved playing conditions.  The benefits in the investment in the irrigation system include:

  • Healthier turf
  • More consistent and not excessive soil moisture.
  • Greatly improved playability
  • Reduced water useand electrical consumption
  • More uniform greens moisture and no algae on greens, approaches or fairways
  • Reduced salt buildup in the fairways and roughs
Conditions

Improved Turf and Playing Conditions

The new system has given Brad Revill the tools he needed to dial in the course conditions.  Brad and his staff can now implement much more controlled and precise water applications. They only irrigate what is needed and not until it is needed. This improved water management is accomplished through a combination of the following management practices:

  • Constant visual observation and awareness
  • Soil moisture sensing
  • A disciplined irrigation scheduling regimen
  • Hand watering as needed for small areas

The improved water management was the result of the disciplined management provided by Brad Revill, the golf course superintendent.  Golf courses in Asia in general and Thailand in particular suffer greatly from significant overwatering.  The reason for this general overwatering can vary from course to course, but are a result to some degree of the following factors:

  • Fear of brown grass
  • A lack of understanding of playability and golfer happiness
  • Fear of computers combined with a language barrier to operate the software
  • Apathy

In order to overcome the urge to overwater the staff at Nikanti required a change in their mindset.  Brad laid down strict guidelines to not irrigate anything until necessary which required “training them up or kicking some ass,” according to Brad.  He instructed the staff not to panic when they saw a dry spot.  Before, if one fairway had one dry spot, then ALL the fairways would be irrigated and not just the area(s) in need.  Brown spots are a good sign, not a bad sign.They show that we are where we want to be and then implement the appropriate action to only that area in need and only the amount needed.  Keeping the course on the edge of dryness rather than excessively wet requires:

  • An understanding of soil moisture levels and their effects on turf
  • Keen attention to the status of the soil moisture and turf condition
  • Discipline to only apply water where it is needed, at the right time and at the right amount
  • Knowledge of the irrigation system to determine the best method of action to replace address dry areas, whether by hose, by a single sprinkler or a group of sprinklers. Start with the smallest option and work your way up.

At Nikanti, the soil moisture sensing begins in the morning with the Spectrum TDR moisture sensing probe to gather the data for the greens.  When they hand water the greens in the mornings from a quick coupler and hose, the minimum soil moisture level is dependent on weather conditions, but generally ranges from around 15% to 17%. A decision is made on this daily.  At midday, a Pogo moisture sensing probe is used to further measure the soil moisture.  If the reading is 10 – 15% or less the dry areas are hand watered again and evening irrigation scheduled.   When they schedule the irrigation at night using the Pogo Cloud GPS mapping they only turn on the sprinklers that directly influence the dry areas.  The Pogo offers the benefit of easily tracking and recording the data in the computer.  The Spectrum TDR is used in the morning since the time required is less than with the Pogo.  The two instruments take measurement at different depths which is helpful with the Spectrum measuring at a deeper level.  As a result the readings are slightly different but both are beneficial.  The use of the soil moisture sensing removes the subjective nature of the process which makes the task much easier for the staff to understand.

20170919_112435

Soil Moisture Sensing With Pogo

Handwatering

Hand Watering of Greens When Needed

The improved irrigation on the greens provides much more uniform coverage of the water than before.  Eliminating water from fairway and other sprinklers throwing onto the greens makes the management of the green soil moisture much easier to control.  This coupled with the improved water management has eliminated the algae on the greens.  Additionally, the approaches to the green are much drier than before so the playability of the course has greatly improved.

New Green 9 Green Sprinklers

Uniform Coverage of Well Designed and Installed Greens Sprinklers

The weather station is used to track the weather and evapotranspiration rate (ET).  The correct amount of water required is then scheduled for the other areas of the course.  In the dry season the maximum they would apply at peak would be 7 – 9 mm.  A full irrigation cycle can now be applied in dry season from 7:30 pm to 4:00 am to the entire course as a result of the increase pump and mainline capacity.  Before the renovation it wasn’t possible to adequately irrigate the entire course in a single evening during peak demand.

20170919_111730

Daily Field Adjustments of Individual Sprinkler Run Times

The upgraded individual sprinkler control now allows the staff to adjust the sprinkler run times up or down on a daily basis as needed for each sprinkler based on their visual observation during the day.  The graphic as-built map added to the computer when it was programmed by ATI is a significant benefit to the operation of the system. After identifying wet and dry spots the use of the graphic as-built map with the IPad makes the task revising the program much quicker and simpler to accomplish.  .

Most of the recommendations from the ATI System Analysis and Long Range Plan were implemented during the initial irrigation renovation.  However, a couple of other improvements are still on the list to be accomplished as soon as the funding becomes available.  The rough areas around the tees are planted with a combination of landscape and native grasses.  This is a great idea to help conserve water, reduce maintenance and provide an attractive contrast to the turf.  Unfortunately, during the initial irrigation installation these areas were irrigated with the same sprinklers as the turf.  Water is now wasted in these areas and the unnecessary water promotes weed growth causing additional and unnecessary work for the staff.  Nikanti plans to upgrade the irrigation in these areas to tee top only irrigation as soon as possible.

Tee Top

The Addition of Tee Top Only Irrigation In the Future Will Further Improve Water Efficiency and Reduce Unnecessary Growth and Weeds

Also, many of the bunkers at Nikanti have steep grass down bunker faces so they dry much quicker than the surrounding turf.  They require constant supplement hand watering to keep them in good condition.  As soon as possible Nikanti intends to start adding supplemental sub-surface drip irrigation to the bunker faces in need.  This can be added by the staff one at a time as time and money becomes available.

The investment in the irrigation system combined with the professional water management provided by Brad and his staff has paid off in improved course conditions, increased play, lower operating costs and improved customer satisfaction.

Uniform Turf 2

Uniform Turf and Improved Playability

If your course experiences similar problems or is not at the level of condition you desire a good start is to get a system analysis from ATI performed as soon as possible.  You can then know what is required to give your staff the tools they need to do their job at a high level.

Unfortunately the poor spacing and location of the sprinklers in the fairways and roughs cannot be easily overcome.  Fortunately for Nikanti some of the other mistakes could be repaired but improving poor sprinkler layout requires nearly starting over.  The best answer for golf course, like most important tasks, is to do it right the first time.

AQUA TURF INTERNATIONAL, INC. – International Irrigation and Water Solutions

 

 

 

Thai Country Club Upgrades Irrigation Control System

Thai Country Club in Chacheongsao, Thailand, just outside Bangkok, is in the process of upgrading their Rain Bird irrigation control system to improve the system efficiency as well as course playability.

The process was implemented after following the recommendation provided in an Irrigation System Analysis performed by Aqua Turf International (ATI). The course was suffering from wet fairways, approaches and surrounds. Some of these problems were attributed to poor drainage, but many of which were actually irrigation related.

Ron Carlyle, the turf consultant and agronomist for the course recommend the System Analysis be performed. After a few months of reviewing the Analysis the General Manager, John Blanch, realized the need and acquired the approvals needed to commence the planning, design and implantation of an irrigation control system renovation and water management training. The goal is to provide the staff with a system that is more efficient and offers more control capability. Additionally, upon completion of the upgrade the staff will be fully trained in the proper water management techniques so they can maximize the new investment in the control system.

The existing satellites had multiple sprinklers (2 – 4) operating simultaneously from a single station as shown in the photo below. This offered little control flexibility, especially since the sprinklers were widely spaced at 25 meters and above. Additionally, the high flow of the widely spaced sprinklers causes excess flow and water velocity in the lateral piping. The result was overwatered turf and unnecessary pipe and fitting failures.

The first step was for ATI to evaluate the satellites, communication wire and software to determine what would be required to convert to individual sprinkler control. There is a limit to the number of satellite channels per wire group. The new individual control nearly doubled the amount of channels required. Fortunately, by rearranging some of the satellites and adding only a small 1,000 meters of additional communication wire the individual control could be achieved without adding any additional satellites. Most of the existing satellites were only utilizing 24 – 32 of the 72 station potential station capacity of each satellite. ATI developed a new individual wiring plan to replace the old wiring plan. Fortunately, ATI had prepared a GPS as-built drawing several years earlier which was used as the basis for the re-design. After the new wiring plan was completed, new 8-station modules were purchased to expand each satellite to the capacity required. By this time the additional 1,000 meters of communication wire had been installed and it was time to get to work rewiring the satellites.

The re-wiring of the satellites is being performed in-house by the maintenance staff to control cost and is being supervised by James Schumacher of ATI. Each existing station is activated to determine which sprinklers are currently controlled by that station. They are then labeled with the correct number on the new wiring plan and then reconnected. To insure that the system is never down during the process, ATI reprograms the computer for the satellites completed that day. One to three holes can be completed each day.

In addition to the work on the satellites additional programming will be performed by ATI so the new individual station capability will be maximized. The Rain Bird Stratus software required an enhancement to allow for the expansion of a third communication wire path. Also a computer map enhancement is being added to allow for improved water management of the software by the staff. Once the project is finished the updated as-built drawing will be imported into the Rain Bird Stratus by ATI. This will allow access from the staff’s smart phones and tablets so each sprinkler run time can be adjusted daily to the correct amount. To further improve the system efficiency and playability two Rain Bird Rain Cans have been added to the system to provide automatic shut down of the system if a rain event occurs before or during a programmed irrigation cycle.

The staff will receive complete and ongoing water management and system training from ATI so they can optimize the investment the club has made in improved irrigation technology. The end result will be a golf course that is drier and more playable, healthier turf and reduced operating expenses.

Thai Country Club are moving forward as one of the leaders in improved water management in Thailand and example for others to follow.

Contact ATI if you are interested in improving your irrigation system and course playability.

Sentosa Golf Club Serapong and Tanjong Courses Central Computer Map

Sentosa Golf Club has recently updated their Toro Lynx central control system map, combining the recently renovated Tanjong course with the well established Serapong. The Serapong Course is renowned for hosting the Singapore Open on the European Tour as well as the HSBC Women’s’ Open on the LPGA tour. We all remember Paula Creamers’ dramatic 75’ winning eagle putt there in 2014. This year the LPGA relocated to the Tanjong course in grand style with an equally interesting but different challenge to that of the Serapong.

The golf course was constructed by TEHC International PTE Ltd. and the irrigation system installed by Advanced Tech Irrigation Golf PTE Ltd., both from Singapore. ATI provided the irrigation system design and consulting at the new Tanjong course as well as the recent update to the irrigation system at Serapong. All the work was supervised under the keen eye and assistance of Andy Johnston, GM and Rodney Mckeown, Golf Course Superintendent.

The updated maps offer Rodney the ability to monitor and manage the irrigation system on both courses from his large screen monitor in his office as well as via either smart phone or smart tablet apps. The large 48” monitor offers plenty of area to view both courses and zoom in for greater detail. In addion to the golf course features all the other in ground construction features such as sub-air and drainage were also included in the mapping and can be accessed on the big screen. Additionally, each satellite is equipped with a matching color map of each hole to assist during operation and trouble shooting at the satellite.

Sentosa Golf Club is truly maximizing their investment in high quality irrigation technology.

Contact ATI if you are interested in enhancing and maximizing your irrigation control system as well.