The Worcestershire Golf Club, in the Malvern Hills in England, is on track to complete a major irrigation renovation project this month.
The work, which began in October 2017, involves the installation of a new pumping station, a Rain Bird IC Stratus II Central Control System incorporating its latest Version 8 software and valve-in-head rotors on greens and aprons.
Pipework for irrigating tees is being installed now, ready for the planned rebuilding of tees over the next three years.
Course manager Steve Lloyd explained: “When I joined in 2014, irrigation was one of the areas that the club had wanted to address for some time. Installed 28 years ago, the system had reached the end if its useful life. We were turning the irrigation system on and off manually, the PVC pipework and glued joints had gradually deteriorated and been damaged by tree roots, sprinklers were poorly spaced and there was no pressure regulation. We approached Irritech in 2016 to carry out an independent appraisal of the existing system and make recommendations for upgrading and future-proofing irrigation to the greens, surrounds and approaches.”
The club, established in 1879 and one of England’s oldest, has 18 holes, nine from a course designed by Dr Alister Mackenzie in the 1920s and nine added later by Hawtree and Co to replace holes lost in the Second World War.
“Not only is an irrigation system the biggest and most expensive piece of equipment a club owns; it’s not often seen in use by the members, so it can be hard to justify the cost of it,” Lloyd said. “With this in mind, when the decision was taken to replace it our greens committee were keen to make a noticeable difference on the course once the new system was installed. The decision was taken to add sprinklers to the approaches as these areas had not previously been irrigated. We took some time to look at all the approach areas to decide how wide and how far out from the greens we wanted them to go once the installation was complete. This addition will allow us to maintain the approaches at a lower height of cut and continue to improve them through regular topdressing and aeration without the concern of the turf becoming stressed during dry periods.”
The new irrigation system has been designed by Irritech and is being installed by North Staffs Irrigation.
Irritech’s Roger Davey said: “We always go to great lengths to make sure the system we design delivers the area coverage that’s needed and is easily capable of future expansion. There are some challenges with the elevation changes at The Worcestershire, but the specification and hydraulic design fully addresses these.”
Lloyd added: “Rain Bird’s timeless compatibility aspect means we can easily add sprinklers as areas of the course are altered. Having a PC-based system that’s user-friendly and allows me control from my phone will mean that instead of running around hand watering with hoses we’ll have much more time for other priorities.”
Jimmy Sandison from Rain Bird said: “This scale of investment only happens every 30 years so it’s essential that the irrigation system can accommodate changes to the course and offers the most cost-effective route for upgrades in future years”.