Golf Club
Wien

Vienna has a continental climate. It’s the warmest, driest place in Austria, and Golf Club Wien is located in the warmest, driest part of the city.

Add these challenging conditions to an outdated irrigation system that’s unable to apply water uniformly, and you can quickly see why the club needed a reliable, effective long-term solution that enables the greenkeeping team to create and maintain consistent playing surfaces.


Introduction

To keep members happy and guests coming back, the greenkeeping team knew that smart irrigation, applied precisely where it’s needed, is key to producing consistent playing surfaces — but getting uniform results across the greens and hard, dry fairways proved to be a time-consuming and costly challenge. The club’s 30-year-old irrigation system, with minimal design and failing PVC pipework, made the goal unachievable — until they looked to Rain Bird for a reliable, state-of-the-art system.

Challenge 1: Inability to produce consistent playing surfaces

With its open aspect, the course is susceptible to wind, which can magnify the effects of the warm, dry climate Vienna experiences in summer.

To help address the issue, a new central control system was installed 10 years ago. Recently, the team installed a decoder system with valve-in-head rotors around the greens, plus a new pump station fed from the club’s two groundwater wells. While the putting surfaces improved, the fairways continued to suffer.

“We had full-circle rotors on a two-row block system with very wide spacing, so we were irrigating areas where it wasn’t needed, such as the semi-rough, but getting insufficient coverage where we did need it,” recalls Course Manager Tom Gilchrist.

Solution: Install a system that applies water with pinpoint accuracy

“We wanted the best golf course irrigation technology — not just for today, but for tomorrow,” Gilchrist explains. “We knew we could get better control with a Rain Bird IC System, and we didn’t want to look back in years to come and wish we’d taken advantage of it.”

How We Did It: Installation of new 702/752 Series Rotors

All Golf Services began work in October 2022, installing new polyethylene pipe and cabling, triple-row fairway irrigation with Rain Bird 702 Series full-circle rotors down the middle and 752 Series part-circle rotors to the edges, back-to-back valve-in-head rotors on the greens, and valve-in-head rotors on the tees.

“We had enough water and power in the pump house, but since the renovation, the performance of the system is really coming into its own,” Gilchrist says. “We’re only now seeing just what the Rain Bird 752 rotors can do in terms of their range of throw. By choosing the correct nozzle for the correct spacing, we’re also able to apply water with incredible accuracy.”

Challenge 2: Encroachment from native Bermuda grass

Bermuda grass became dominant on the fairways and would sit brown during the winter because nothing else could grow through the thatch. It goes dormant at the first frost around October and becomes active around mid- to late May, which meant the team had five to six months to establish cool season grasses to compete against it. Any maintenance programme implemented to alter species composition is made even more challenging without uniform water application.

Solution: Provide individual head control to optimise water placement

Using the right rotors in the right places — combined with the correct nozzles and individual head control — allows the team at Golf Club Wien to apply water exactly where they need it.

How We Did It: Installation of a Rain Bird® IC System™

With the new Rain Bird IC System, Gilchrist and his team will be focused on producing a high-quality golf course. Currently they’re spending their time fine-tuning the irrigation system rather than fixing things. Their goal is to produce more consistent surfaces by developing a fescue/bentgrass sward.

“We already noticed less and less Bermuda grass in the areas where we had better irrigation on the tees and greens surrounds,” he says. “There’s a lot of bentgrass in the greens. With no real construction and lots of dry areas, we’ll now try and build the fescue.”

Challenge 3: Unexpected issues that created constant worry and stress

In addition to trying to irrigate the course as best they could, the greenkeeping team had become accustomed to issues like flooding.

“In the past, I worried about going home each night because I didn’t know what I’d find the next morning,” Gilchrist says.

Solution: Provide an easy-to-use course management tool

Managing a golf course irrigation system shouldn’t come with constant uncertainties and stress. Online management tools allow greens staff to programme the system their own way and run it from anywhere, on any device, at any time. The mobile central provides the course manager or irrigation technician reassurance, at a glance, that the system is operating as it should.

How We Did It: CirrusPRO™ — the mobile-first irrigation control system

Without an intuitive monitoring system, the team was unable to gauge how much water they were actually applying. But with that information now available at their fingertips, they can work toward reducing water consumption and achieving controlled growth from any location.

Results

“The mapping on the CirrusPRO software is fantastic,” Gilchrist says. “Being able to make any adjustment out in the field is transformative. You can see the nozzle, you can see the arc and you can make adjustments then and there.”

With 835 rotors — 600 more than they had previously — having a way to quickly and easily monitor them is essential. The feedback they now get allows the team to see exactly what’s happening on the course down to the individual head, and the software consistently sends information back. If there’s a fault in the future, Gilchrist and his team will be able to pinpoint it instantly, saving valuable time.

Testimonial

“We used to put a lot of work into fairways but never really saw the rewards — but with reliable irrigation and uniform coverage, that’s all changing.”

-Tom Gilchrist
Course Manager
Golf Club Wien


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