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.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Winter is Here

After an entire fall and early winter with little snow to speak of, it looks like are run of good luck is up. The last two days the entire irrigation installation has been shut down due to accumulating snowfall.

From this point forward production will be greatly limited due to the snow that is on the ground making hauling of materials difficult at best. With every day passing, I am seeing our goals of pipe installation slipping away.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Spray Day

With the forecasted snow and cooling soil temperatures, we made our preventative fungicide application for Snow Mold to the golf course. The areas of treatment were anything that contains Bentgrass such as greens and fairways. Additionally some of the northern exposure areas in the rough were treated as well.

The timing of these applications can be very difficult due to the unpredictable weather. If an application is made to soon the efficacy can be reduced sometimes requiring a second application late in the winter. If the application is made to late lasting snow cover will already be on the ground, which then requires snow removal so that the fungicide application can be made.

Spraying Greens Spraying Fairways

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Grading on #11 is Complete

The ditch crossing work on the eleventh hole is now complete. After several weeks of re-grading and the installation of extensive drainage, today the new sod was put down.

Now that the work is complete cart traffic will be restricted in this area until next spring allowing the new sod to become established.

From a pace of play and maintenance standpoint this area will now become greatly improved. The main area of the ditch will now be mowed grass that will better handle cart traffic and additionally if your ball lands in this area you will be able to quickly locate it.

Drainage Work
Sod Being Installed

Before Re-grading

Sod Work Completed Finished Product

Monday, November 24, 2008

Going Out With a Fight

The irrigation system has been in the ground for nearly twenty three years and for the most part served the club well. It has been in the last three years in particular that have not been so kind to me. During this time we have fought with it every step of the way and now that its days are numbered she’s putting up a fight to the finish.

Yesterday we had a ten inch frost free (deep mainline) on the eight hole fail, causing water service to be shut off to twelve of the holes. The lack of water isolation is the reason that so many holes were turned off to stop the break. It is for reasons like this that we are replacing the old system, so that problematic disruptions of service can be avoided.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Five is Finished

We have completed the lateral installation on the fifth hole. This will be the end of the line for lateral installation for the remainder of the year. As per the contracted schedule we were planning on only doing the first five holes of laterals, with the focus being the installation of the mainline throughout the entire course.

The additional work force will now be able to focus on mainline installation, so that we can come closer to meeting our original goals. In all reality we will not hit our goal of total mainline installation this year, but with any kind of favorable weather we should get close. At this point I am projecting that we will be three holes short on mainline installation. This is not a huge problem as far as the overall work schedule because this should be easily made up next spring once works resumes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Specialty Watering

There are many unique areas on the golf course that require a precise application of water. This is dealt with by using smaller residential type sprinkler heads to apply the water to these limited areas.

Great care and thought was taken to identify these areas throughout the golf course in the new irrigation design. These small zones of water will help trouble hot spots and also reduce overthrow into areas where the additional water is not needed or wanted.

Two years ago twenty two bunkers were added during the renovation and much of our time since then has been spend hand watering the grass surrounds. The use of low flow popup spray heads will apply water to the entire bunker surrounds, with out washing the sand from the faces. These heads will apply water measured in gallons per hour rather than in gallons per minute, which is the key to keeping the steep grass areas watered properly.

Spray Heads on a Bunker Bank

The “Hunter zones” refer to a type of small throw heads that apply water to areas where a throw of only 30 feet is needed. There are many areas in the rough that are very tight in spacing and require these shorter throwing heads to properly water them. The short throw helps reduce the overthrow into areas such as native grasses and fairways where the additional water is not wanted.

Hunter Zone in Action

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winter Rules

You would be hard pressed to know it’s the middle of November right now, but the grass sure does. Even with these unseasonably warm temperatures the turf has shut down and is no longer producing new leaf tissue. Although there is still a lot of activity taking place inside the plant and root system, the vertical growth has come to an end.

It is for this reason that from this point forward until next April carts will be on the paths only. This is something we do every year to protect the golf course from excessive wear and tear when the turf is no longer actively growing. Once growth shuts down the plant loses its ability to repair itself from the damage caused by divots, ballmarks and most especially golf carts.

If we did not take measures to protect the golf course during this period of time, we could conceivably lose the positive agronomic improvement’s made from this growing season.

We will still be allowing member’s with handicap flag needs to drive on the grass due to low number of individuals who have accessibility issues.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The End of The Line

After nearly nine weeks and 14,000 lineal feet of pipe installed, the sixteen inch mainline is now complete. This is perhaps the biggest task associated with the new irrigation system installation.

Just under 17,000 cubic yards of material was excavated alone for this portion of the mainline installation. Keep in mind that the material is handled twice, due to the fact that it has to be put back in the trench and compacted. There also is a large portion of material that has to be hauled off due to the volume of the newly installed pipe that now occupies the trench.

This point in time of the project marks that nearly two thirds of the total mainline is in the ground. The other good news is that now the mainline pipe size reduces down to only eight inches in diameter, which means the lineal production should nearly double per day. This will be done due to the fact that the amount of material that is being excavated will be half of the previous amount.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Big Soak

As the unseasonably warm and dry weather continues, measures are being taken to maintain adequate soil moisture levels.

Typically we blow out the irrigation system the week of Thanksgiving, but this year I am not so sure. In the last week we have begun to try and saturate areas on the course that typically dry out during the winter. This is being done by running the sprinkler heads as well as hand watering these areas.

There will come a time that the sprinklers will have to be blown out even though moisture levels aren’t high enough. As the nighttime temperatures drop and daylight gets shorter the ground loses it ability to maintain above freezing soil temperatures. It is at this time the sprinkler heads will begin to freeze and become non operational. Also the heads become susceptible to damage from the freezing which causes frozen water to expand inside the sprinkler head cracking it.

After blowing out we will rely on our frost free component of the irrigation system to maintain the golf course throughout winter. The winter watering operation is all done by hand using hoses and agricultural type cannons to apply the water.

Close Up Of Cannon

Cannon in Action

Thursday, November 13, 2008


One of the keys to the overall success of the irrigation renovation has be the accurate identification of existing irrigation components. This has been done by my staff using “as built” maps along with a wire locator.

In order for the existing system to remain active great care must be taken by the contractor when crossing all of the pipes and wire. Each of the locations is accurately marked with paint, so that each can be potholed before the heavy equipment comes through. Potholing is the process of hand digging the area and exposing the pipe or wire, so that it can be cut back and out moved out of the way.

Paint Showing Location of Existing Irrigation

Potholed Exposed Pipe and Wires
Located Pipe and Wires Cut Back

Repaired Pipe and Wires

After the new mainline is installed, the old pipe and wires are reconnected exactly as they were prior to the disruption. Without this level of care being taken the old irrigation system will not operate properly. This is critical because many of the old irrigation components still need to work properly until they are replaced, which in some areas will not be until next June.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Fourth Hole is Complete

We are continuing to make steady progress with the lateral pipe installation. All of the pipe and heads have been installed on the fourth hole and it is now operational.

Work has now begun on the fifth hole with the hopes of completing laterals by the end of next week.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wrapping Things Up

We have come to the point in the golfing season that the supplies are being removed from the course. Over the next several days’ items such as, tee markers, benches, ballwashers, bunker rakes and cart signage will be taken in.

These items will be refinished during the off season preparing them for next year. All of the tee markers and signage will be refinished, so they look like new at the start of year. The daily exposure to the effluent water quickly deteriorates the varnish and appearance of the wooden products.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Snow Mold Prevention

We have begun to prepare the golf course for the upcoming struggles that are encountered during the winter. One of the most significant problems we encounter during the winter months is disease pressure in the form of snow mold.

We preventatively treat the main play areas (greens, tees and fairways) for snow mold with different forms of chemical treatments. Treating these critical play areas is a costly expense, but it is well worth the money spent because the cost to repair untreated areas far exceeds the cost of the fungicides applied. It is for this reason we are very careful about our fungicide choices to these play areas.

Fungicides are selected for the areas based on level of importance, estimated duration of snow cover and cost of the product to be applied. After all these factors are taken into consideration, a choice is made for the specific product to be applied for each area.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Third Hole Is Now Complete

Another hole of laterals has been completed getting us closer to being back on schedule as far as lateral installation goes.

The pulling was not as clean as the first two holes, due to heavy soil conditions found on the third hole. Additionally the soil was becoming extremely dry and caused a little heaving along the pull lines. These areas will be monitored closely, if proper settling does not occur measures will be taken to lower the disruption.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Winter Protection

We have begun the process of installing snow fencing at several key locations on the golf course. Most of these areas fall on the upper portion of the course that has the greatest exposure risk.

The fencing can be found around all of the practice area greens as well as the first and second greens. Additionally some of the tees and bunker faces on the first two holes are also protected.

The purpose of the fence is to help hold snow in place on these critical areas so that desiccation does not occur. These are some of the first areas in which turf loss occurs, if adequate moisture levels are not maintained throughout the winter season.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Show Must Go On

As the poor weather begins to set in, work must still take place on the golf course. Last night we received a dusting of snow that will have little or no effect on the irrigation system installation. In order for work to continue, the areas of installation will be cleared of snow so that progress is not impeded.

With a little luck over the next four weeks snow will be on the light side, so that our goals for this season can be met. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Coming To an End

The golfing season is quickly coming to an end and things on the golf course are beginning to reflect that as well. With the unseasonably warm weather we have been experiencing for the last several weeks, the turf has remained active well beyond what is normal for around here. It appears that this week will be the final mowing of the year for most of the playing surfaces. This is a good two weeks later than normal for the final mowing.

Also today marks the final day for daily pinsheets due to the fact that GHIN handicap posting ends as of today.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hard Lining

As the new irrigations system is becoming a reality so to will the ability to better manage the overall water usage on the golf course. One of the key components to the new irrigation system design is a true separation of watering areas. All of the four main areas of play will now have the ability to be watered independently of each other.

The biggest change from conventional irrigation design is the fact that two heads are used in place of one. Rather than one full circle head, there are now two part circle heads allowing for a complete separation of watering areas. One of the heads is set to water the fairway only while the other is set to water the rough.

Click on picture to enlarge

This concept of “hard line” watering has been commonly used on greens for years, but is now being commonly used in situations where Bentgrass fairways exist. For years Bentgrass fairways have caught a bad rap for being heavy water users, when in all actuality they used far less than the surrounding rough areas. They have appeared wet and overwatered due to the fact that Bluegrass has a higher water requirement.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Two Down Sixteen To Go

Laterals were completed on the second hole today and were put to use quickly due to the unseasonably warm weather. This marks the third area completed with new mainline, laterals and heads.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where Are The Yardage Markers?

For those of you who have played in the last week you have probably noticed something missing with the new sprinkler heads. All of the newly installed heads in the fairway do not have yardage numbers on them.

The yardages will be shot from each of the new heads and will be labeled on all that fall within the 75yd to 250 yd range. This will not occur until all of the new heads are installed throughout the course. Once all of the heads are labeled the existing yardage markers, will be removed in efforts to help remove some of the clutter found in the fairways.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

One is Done

After a two step process with the initial mainline installation followed by laterals and heads, the first hole is now complete. The future begins now with the new highly sophisticated system in place and now the steep learning curve starts.

On the first hole the old irrigation system had only 112 heads, whereas the new system now has 204 heads. The reason for the significant increase in heads is due to the fact that a closer spacing has been achieved. The old heads were spaced at 70ft, the new heads are spaced at 55ft. This closer head spacing now allows for a more even application of water to the play areas.

The other factor that increased the number of heads is that we now have the ability to water the fairways separately from the rough. We now have a true separation of water areas due to the use of part circle heads that are designed to water specific areas only. This is the biggest difference compared to our old system, where all areas were watered with out the ability to separate areas due to overthrow.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What is With The Purple Sprinklers?

Some of you might be wondering why the new sprinkler heads are purple. As dictated by the state of Colorado, we are required to mark all irrigation components with the color purple for identification purposes of effluent water.

Not only are the heads marked, but all of the pipe is marked as well. The HDPE pipe has purple lines on it, while the low pressure pipe is all purple.

These markings are in place so that a cross connection with a potable water supply does not occur.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Late Season Fertilization

Today we applied a dormant fertilizer to the rough that will provide nutrients for the turf to deal with the upcoming winter. If there is one single most important application of fertilizer made all year, this would be it.


The timing of the dormant fertilizer application is critical for the overall success of the nutrient uptake within the plant. An application made to early will force succulent growth, which increases the turfs susceptibility to winter disease and low temperature kill. An application made when the turf has already gone dormant will have not have any positive effects to the turf and essentially be a waste of money spent of the materials applied.

Principles of Late Season Fertilization

• Nitrogen uptake continues at the roots even though shoot growth has ended. In cooler temperatures root growth continues.
• Increased chlorophyll content means increased photosynthesis.
• Increased photosynthesis means increased sugars. Since turf is not growing at the time of the fertilizer application the sugars which are produced are not used for growth but stored to enhance winter survival and spring recovery.
• Late season nitrogen promotes deep rooting during fall. Plants go into spring and summer with deeper, healthier roots.
• Spring green up is early because the nitrogen stored in the roots is there ready when shoot growth resumes.

Benefits of Late Season Fertilizing:

• Increased winter hardiness
• Improved stress tolerance
• Early spring green up
• Reduced need for early spring fertilizer reducing the flush of spring growth

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pipe Pulling

The pulling of the laterals and wire on the first hole has begun. On this hole alone there are over 225 heads that have to be installed. This will take a crew of fifteen, three to five days to complete the installation.

Each lateral will have approximately twenty heads installed and they will become live as soon as each lateral is complete.

Below is a video of the pulling operation.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Taste of Winter

Today marked our first look at things to come. Fortunately we only received a dusting of snow last night, which will not cause any major delays with the irrigation system installation.

As we get further into winter as measurable snows occur, clearing of work areas will need to take place so that work can continue. Production rates will slow down as the ground begins to freeze causing the cleanup to become less efficient.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The day has finally come where we have begun to install the new sprinkler heads.
Systematically on each of the first three holes, heads will be installed starting at the green moving backwards through the hole.

As the new heads are installed, each of these new loops will become active and effectively begin the end to the old system as we know it.

At this time the new heads can only be run from the satellite controllers in the field, because the new communication line has not made it to the maintenance facility. This will not occur until the mainline installation reaches the twelfth hole and the communication line can be connected to the central computer found in my office.

Lateral line being pulled in at putting green

New heads in operation

Monday, October 20, 2008

New Concrete

Today we were finally able to pour the new concrete finger on the ninth hole after scheduling delay’s caused by the weather early last week. The new path will allow for an additional exit point from the fairway, which will help spread out the traffic flows.

This path will not be used until next season due to the fact that some additional sod work will have to take place to properly tie in with the existing terrain.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Good Flushing

The final process that takes place prior to connecting the lateral pipes to the new mainline is a flushing. It is critical that all debris that has gotten in the pipe during construction is removed.

The easiest way to do this is to pressure up the line and open up drain valves to blow out any debris that may have found its way into the pipe. If this is not done correctly, the debris left inside the pipe will cause problems to the operation of the new sprinkler heads.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Gone Fishing

We have begun the process of fishing the power wires through the conduit that was installed with the mainline. These wires are the 120Volt feed that will power the individual satellite controllers that run the sprinkler heads.

This is one of the last things that needs to be done prior to the installation of lateral pipe.

Fishing wires through

Wires inside junction box