Irrigation System Management and Maintenance

I’ve been involved in the golf industry for over 14 years and since starting my own consulting business in 2008, I’ve noticed an unusual trend towards the management and maintenance of golf course irrigation systems. Superintendents are more often investing their resources towards different wetting agents, fertilizers or pesticides as opposed to investing in their irrigation systems and the maintenance and management of them.

An irrigation system is the single most valuable tool that a golf course Superintendent has at his/her disposal. If the turfgrass doesn’t get water, it would be pretty difficult to maintain the standard that golfers demand during the peak golfing months.

To effectively irrigate at the time its needed most, a Superintendent requires a well thought-out scheduling regime derived from on-site weather stations, high sprinkler application uniformity, and precise site adjustments.

Overall, operating an irrigation system with high efficiency will contribute to reaching the following objectives:
• Maintaining uniformity of playing conditions
• Minimizing water and electrical consumption
• Minimizing water loss to run-off and deep percolation
• Reducing the potential for turfgrass disease
• Reducing fertilizer and chemical usage

It’s all easier said than done. Not only is good irrigation system maintenance hard work, but it is also a team effort. The Superintendent must depend upon his/her staff to regularly check sprinkler nozzles, incorrect rotation time, un-level sprinklers, pressure differences, improper arc, clogged and/or sprinklers not rotating.

When there simply isn’t the labor to perform these tasks, a Certified Golf Irrigation Auditor (CGIA) should be used to perform effective irrigation audits and a Certified Golf Irrigation Designer (CID) should be used to assist in proper scheduling, design and preventative maintenance processes.

Investing in irrigation system is investing in the long-term success of your golf course operation!