Golf Course Superintendent
P.J. Potuzak, CGCS
American Golf Corporation
Bryant Taylor Gordon Golf
Rain Bird Distributor
Opened in the early 1980’s Bear Creek Country Club’s par-72, 7,026-yard championship layout is just 15 minutes from downtown Seattle. Designed by noted golf course architect Jack Frei to blend seamlessly with its pristine surroundings: thick stands of mature trees frame undulating fairways and manicured greens, with several lakes and rugged wetlands creating both strategic diversity and a picturesque backdrop for golf. The course has hosted numerous prestigious events including the PNGA Amateur, PNW PGA Hudson Cup matches, two USGA Amateur Qualifiers, USGA Sr. Open Qualifier and the USGA Mid-Am Qualifier.
Design issues, pressure problems and an undersized mainline with their original irrigation system created multiple challenges, resulting in a 10 hour water window with an ongoing need for manual watering. A control system upgrade to Rain Bird PAR+ES controllers in the early 2000s provided a more targeted approach to irrigation scheduling but did not solve for design and hydraulic issues. Over time, the golf crew found themselves spending most of their day repairing mainline/lateral breaks and hand watering hot spots to keep the course playable. When the decision was made to upgrade the irrigation system, Superintendent P.J. Potuzak and Assistant Superintendent Chad Wortinger started researching satellite and 2-wire system options from golf irrigation manufacturers.
After careful consideration, the course chose the Rain Bird IC System™ with MI Series™ Mobile Controllers and Rain Bird® 700 & 751 Series Rotors. From both a design and aesthetic standpoint, P.J. liked the idea of eliminating controllers on the course. Other benefits with the IC System include diagnostic capabilities, wire savings and the flexibility of operating the irrigation system from the field with MI. The IC System’s realtime diagnostics lets the crew check the status of every rotor in a matter of seconds, keeping them one step ahead of any issues by finding problems before they happen. Combine that with the system’s single-head control, and P.J.’s crew now has much greater ability to maintain playing conditions while minimizing water use.
The MI Series Mobile Controllers have been a great time-saving device allowing “on the fly” changes, multiple heads can be run and it easily connects across the course. Like many courses, Bear Creek has significant elevation changes which always hampered radio connectivity. Using MI through the cellular network has completely eliminated connection issues.
Using the Rain Bird IC System with MI Series Mobile Controllers has given P.J. the irrigation flexibility he needs to maintain his course. The water window has been reduced to less than 5 hours and his crew now spends their time providing ideal playing conditions for their members.