Monday, December 22, 2008

Where’s The Substance?

About a week ago I attended a local Turfgrass Conference and Tradeshow here in town and I have to say that there was a definite lack of substance. By that I mean obviously in these tough economic times many venders had a smaller presence which is understandable, but the lectures that were given were thin on information.

At first glance of the brochure that contained the list of speakers and topics that were going to be presented several interested me. Unfortunately my interest was quickly lost by speakers who offered little new information on the topics they were presenting. Even worse was the fact that some of the techniques that were being discussed were factually incorrect and did not even apply to the topic at hand. Unfortunately many of these speakers spend most of their time in academia, where there is little connection to real world situations.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Out with the Old

Over the course of the winter we will be removing some of the old irrigation system components. The old satellite controllers on the first five holes are the first items that will be removed.

These items will be carefully removed, so that some of them can be re-sold for pennies on the dollar. Unfortunately the components we are removing do not have a great market for resale, but it’s worth the effort to see if we can get anything for them.

Aside from salvaging the components the areas that the old controllers once stood will be regraded and sodded over to hide any signs of them ever being there. Obviously this portion of the work will not be able to be completed until spring time, once the ground thaws out and sod can be cut.

Disconnecting the Wires
Remaining wires from a controller

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Along with the new irrigation system comes the programming of the new software that will control it. Our old system has Rainbird heads that are controlled by Cirrus software, the new system has Toro heads that will be controlled by Sitepro.

Fortunately I have most of the off season to complete the data input and initial programming of the new control system. The most difficult part of this process is becoming bilingual with both software systems that have drastically different ways of inputting data and executing programming. The learning curve for the new software has been a little steep, but through repetition comes proficiency.

Next spring into early summer my desk will look like mission control with multiple computers and monitors operating both systems at the same time. This will be a juggling act of hydraulically making the old and new play nice with each other. Each week as the new components are installed, I will be constantly adjusting pump station and mainline flows so that undue stress is not applied to the system.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

National Recognition

Recently Castle Pines Village was ranked second in Golfweek for residential golf communities. You can read the full article here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Looking Ahead

Even though work on the irrigation installation has just ended for the year, we have already begun looking ahead to next year’s schedule for completion of the project.

Tentative work schedules are being developed right now to ensure that staffing meets my expectations to successfully complete the remainder of the work ahead. A slow ramping up of staffing is not an option; a commitment of almost over staffing will need to be done to make certain our goals are met.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Last Hurrah

The window for mainline installation for this season is quickly closing. In the last couple of weeks we have begun to receive regular snows and with night time temperatures plunging, the ground is becoming less workable.

The contractor will be shutting down operations this coming Friday and will leave the project well behind schedule for the year. We had hoped to complete all mainline installation this fall, but fell short due to the contractor not being properly staffed or equipped at the start of the project. The problems began when significant rock was hit on the upper holes which everyone was aware existed, but this problem was ignored until it was too late.

Next March the contractor is scheduled to return and complete the remainder of the project by the middle of June. It will be difficult at best to accomplish this goal with the remaining workload ahead. A strong commitment of man and machine must take place in order to make meeting this deadline possible. The one thing that is for sure is that the weather will be wildly unpredictable in the Rocky Mountains come spring time.

Monday, December 8, 2008


It is hard to believe that this blog has reached 10,000 hits since I first started it last February.

The blog started out as a communication tool to be used for my membership to better understand what is taking place on the golf course. The blog has become much more than that as it continues to evolve. Over the course of the last several months, I have helped fellow Golf Course Superintendents develop their own blogs and even had some of my materials printed in trade publications.

My timing of starting this blog could not have been better due to the fact that it has been extremely helpful for the documentation of an irrigation renovation process. Early on before the renovation was approved, the blog helped show the daily struggles we were going through that most people weren’t even aware of. Once construction began this fall I have been posting the daily struggles and accomplishments of our contractor as the installation takes place. My commentary along with the photographs will freeze this major construction project in time for people to be able to look back upon with great satisfaction.

I would like to thank everyone who takes the time out of their day to visit and hopefully enjoy what has become one of the things I look forward to doing each day.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Booster Station

The new booster station has been installed at the driving range. The booster station will feed a separate mainline that will supply the upper holes (#1,#2,#3 and the driving range) on the course.

This is referred to as the high pressure zone, while the lower holes on the course will rely on gravity to increase pressure as the water travels from hole to hole. The remaining fifteens holes will be in the low pressure zone due to the new reduced discharge pressure coming out of the main pump station. The upper holes now require a second pump station that boosts the pressure to 100PSI.

Combining these two pump stations I will now have at total flow of 2700 GPM, which will allow me to water the golf course in a much shorter time period. The old pump station setup only allowed me to pump 1750GPM.

The booster station will be concealed in a concrete vault that is located on the far eastern side of the driving range. The vault was built to specifications that would allow ample room to house the new pumps, electrical controls and also allowing for adequate air circulation.

The size of the vault is 17ft by 17ft with at depth of 10ft. This vault was shipped in three separate pieces due to the weight of the components. All three pieces have a combined weigh over 100 tons. Once the work has been completed in the vault, it will be backfilled and only the ventilation snorkels will be visible above the ground.

Digging the pit for the vault
Leveling the base for the vault
Picking up one of the vault pieces
Setting the vault floor
Core drilling a hole for the mainline pipe
Pump components
Side view of vault in the ground

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pump House Improvements

Work has begun at the pump house with the removal of the old pumps, motors and control panel. These old pumps were one of the primary causes for the numerous failures to the PVC pipe and fittings.

The pumps discharged from the station at 150 PSI pushing a high volume of water up the hill to the first hole, from there the water was regulated with a series of pressure reducing valves down stream. The PRV’s (pressure reducing valves) were dealing with very high pressures that had to be lowered so that the pipe would not constantly blow out of the ground. This task was made more difficult due to the significant elevation changes (600ft) found over the golf course property.

The new pumps will be discharging from the station at only 50 PSI, which will make the pressure control down stream much easier. The new system will also have PRV valves located at every 100 foot of elevation change to properly manage pressures. Combine this with the use of HDPE piping, the system as a whole should have little or no problem with failures.

Removing Old Pumps

Empty Pump Skid

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Clearing The Way

In efforts to keep the project moving forward my staff has begun to remove snow from the current areas where pipe installation is taking place.

One of the first areas that must be cleared is the cart paths, so that both mine and the contractor’s staff can get around. After that we can then focus on the area in which pipe is currently being installed. The snow is removed either by hand or with equipment such as a tractor mounted snow blower.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Blow Out

One of the final procedures performed to the golf course before winter sets in is the blow out of the irrigation system.

Blowing out is done by using compressed air to physically remove all of the water from the underground piping. This is done to protect the pipes and sprinklers from damage caused by the expanding water when freezing occurs. The new HDPE pipe will expand and not be harmed by the freezing, but the non HDPE materials will still break.

The New Sprinklers Being Blown Out Last week

The new sprinklers were blown out last week while the weather was still nice, whereas the old system heads are being blown out this week. From this point forward I will have to be more careful with the timing of blowout due to the freezing sensitivity of the new heads. This timing is critical so that the last watering is done to the course before temperatures consistently stay below freezing.

Blow Out Today

Fortunately we will still have the ability to water the golf course during the winter even after blow out has occurred. Similar to the old irrigation system, the new system will have a frost free irrigation component. I will have the ability to water the main play areas such as greens, tees and fairways with quick coupler valves located every 110 feet.