15-Jan-09 8:00 AM CST
Special report: Irrigation planners keyForget course architects; the new heroes of design are irrigation planners. These so-called spigot wizards may soon become your best friends because they keep courses healthy when watering aplenty isn’t an option.
Ultimately, it’s the superintendent who is responsible for how much – or how little – water is applied. But the hardest-working greenkeeper in the world can’t be an efficient, ecologically minded steward without a high-quality irrigation system in the ground.
Think of irrigation planners as golf’s equivalent to policy wonks or math geeks. Except instead of nerdy, plastic pocket liners filled with pencils and protractors, their tools of the trade are decidedly high-tech: digital cameras, hand-held Global Positioning System trackers and pressure gauges for testing sprinklers.
Richard Slattery, who has been superintendent at Locust Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y., for 14 years, knows the value of a well-designed irrigation system.
“We had a rickety old system,” says Slattery, describing his previous network of 450 heads, spaced 80-85 feet apart, which delivered 500 gallons per minute. It took nine to 10 hours to water overnight and required an additional eight or nine workers watering by hand.
“All told on a dry day, we’d use 250,000 gallons per day,” he says.
But startling efficiency surfaced when Slattery’s new irrigation system, designed by veteran consultant Jim Barrett, became operational in spring 2007.
It sports 1,300 computer-controlled valves, spaced at 60-foot intervals, and delivers 1,800 gallons per minute. The entire course can be watered in a two-hour cycle and uses only 150,000 gallons per day. That’s a 40 percent reduction in water and considerable energy savings in pumping costs. The closer spacing of sprinklers sprays water more on target and reduces loss through evaporation.
New systems don’t come cheap. They run the gamut, depending upon topography, soil base and desired coverage, with costs in the Northeast running $1.3 million to $2 million. In the more arid Southwest, a system easily can run $2.3 million to $3.5 million.
Paul Granger is among the estimated 30 or 40 full-time course irrigation designers working in the U.S. While playing Division I golf at Loyola University of Chicago, he harbored thoughts of turning pro but soon realized he wasn’t good enough. He had worked on maintenance crews, earned a master’s degree in turfgrass agronomy at Purdue in 1975, and when his thesis on slow-release fertilizers required controlled watering he started studying agricultural engineering and hydrology.
Now he’s president of Aqua Agronomic Solutions in Clinton, N.J., and working on 22 irrigation jobs in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as in Costa Rica, Bahamas, Sardinia and the United Arab Emirates.
To design an irrigation system, Granger says, numerous project details need to be understood. Among them: budget, soil composition, water source and quality, climate turf type, altitude and topography.
It’s not the stuff of your average 19th-hole conversation, and it’s far more specialized than what a course architect can handle. Design fees for a basic system run $25,000 to $35,000, but most irrigation consultants provide – and recommend – a wider range of service. That includes locating positions for heads and construction management, drafting final “as built” drawings for future reference and programming the system’s computer so it’s fully operational. As a result, overall design fees can run $60,000 to $80,000.
Most full-time irrigation planners are members of the American Society of Irrigation Consultants or the Irrigation Association.
Many are well-established in the trade.
“They are critical to the success of the golf-course design from an environmental, water-usage, playability and aesthetic standpoint,” says course architect Chris Wilczynski, a principal in the firm of Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates. “I wouldn’t want to do a project without one.”
Rating: 0.00 / 5.00
For additional information on this Earthworm News article, please contact:
Source: BRADLEY S. KLEIN
Content Tags: earthworm news •
Return to Green Industry Jobs, Articles Search