Monday, June 1, 2009

Irrigation Project Finished

It was just about a year ago when loads of pipe, wire, valves, fittings, controllers, sprinkler heads, storage trailers, installation equipment, and Leibold Irrigation crew members arrived, beginning the new irrigation system project. Today, I’m pleased to report, all of the materials are installed, the storage trailers and most equipment are gone, and Leibold’s crew has moved on to other projects.

The last 2 projects of the entire installation: clubhouse irrigation (above) and the Sahara bunker face irrigation (below).

There are several other items that I’m pleased to report at this time, and I think you will be too.
  • In spite of one of the wettest spring periods on record, the installation was completed within the planned completion date of May 31. I can’t say enough good things about Leibold Irrigation; they were great to work with, accommodating at every step along the way, provided superb attention to workmanship and detail, and worked like warriors in battle during some very unpleasant working conditions last fall (floods) and again during this spring’s miserable cold, windy, and rainy weather.
  • With 21 miles of pipe, 340 miles of wire, 400 valves, and nearly 2000 sprinkler heads, there has been only a couple minor leaks, a few defective sprinkler heads, and one defective quick coupler valve. There may be a leak here or a malfunction there, but we can be certain that Leibold Irrigation will stand behind their work for years to come.
  • The new system has several control options which will provide nearly unlimited flexibility and upgradability well into the future:
  1. Central Control from office (the primary means of operation)
  2. Radio Control (for supplemental watering during day)
  3. Palm Pilot Control (similar to radio but allows any desired field changes to be made on the course and then synced to central)
  4. Field Satellite Control (operate stand alone if a malfunction were to occur with central computer, or supplemental watering during day)
  5. Manual Control (heads can be turned on with a special key)
  • These features will provide the ultimate in flexibility and at this point the computer has been programmed, all satellites are communicating, the radio communication equipment is installed and all systems are functional. The Palm Pilot Control will be available after we receive all GPS mapping data and the system design is downloaded and programmed to the central computer and palm pilot.
  • Water management and application with this new system will be state of the art and will ultimately allow us to be very precise with where, when, and how much water we want to apply. This system also could eventually save us as much as 25% in our water use. I’m told that with the efficiency of water distribution with these new heads, compared to what we replaced, we could see savings of 30%. I don’t think we should “bank” on this just yet. We are now able to place water in more areas than we did in the past, but we can control that which we do apply, so much better. I’m thinking (ok I’m hoping) that we will balance out and use approximately the same amount of water as we used in the past, but we’ll be applying it more uniformly and where we want it. We’re at the infancy stage with our new system, heads are in new places compared to the old system, and we need to learn what run times are now appropriate. We’ll make mistakes I’m sure, but we’ll learn from them and in time we’ll have things “dialed in”. There is still so much to do and learn, from fine tuning arc adjustments and nozzle trajectories to determining and recording spray pattern adjustments and imputing these into the computer so that we can ultimately be very precise with setting run times and frequencies.
These part circle heads will cut run times in half on fairway perimeters.
  • In the final analysis, and in time when we’ve “fine-tuned” everything, what our new irrigation system will ultimately provide for us is improved playability. Our goal is firmer playing surfaces while still providing a durable, dense, and healthy turfgrass.
  • Finally, The last item I think you will all be very pleased for me to report is, this equipment rich, highly technical, and labor intensive project will come in right on budget! All parties involved worked well together (EC Design, Liebold, and SCC) in both the planning and implementation phases, and we will all do so again now in the operational phase. EC Design, our irrigation design/consultant firm, planned and designed what we wanted, Leibold Irrigation installed it as we wanted it with minimal inconvenience, and our SCC Grounds Operations Staff performed (or is currently in the process of) old equipment removal (heads, controllers, valves), spoil material processing (shaping and grassing excess soil generated from project), restoration (haul roads and wear areas), and general assistance throughout entire project.
Old irrigation equipment removal will continue over the next several weeks.
An old irrigation head being removed from the 3rd fairway.

I’ve been involved in many projects over the nearly two decades that I’ve been here at Skokie. and I’m happy to say that they have all went very well and have all been on budget. A few stand out as being exceptional however (in terms of working together with contractors) and I’d have to say that this one ranks right up there, at or near the top!

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