Kelly Plantation
Golf Club

To get uneven moisture conditions under control at Kelly Plantation Golf Club, the superintendent tested Rain Bird’s CirrusPRO™ software to see if it could help.


Located in beautiful Destin, Florida, Kelly Plantation Golf Club also happens to be situated in one of the wettest parts of the state. It’s not unusual for the course to get 70 inches of rain in a year. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of rainfall wasn’t the only challenge — prior to the upgrade, some parts of the course were so wet that algae was growing, while other parts were so dry they needed to be watered by hand.

For Kevin Churchill, golf course superintendent at Kelly Plantation, it was a constant battle to provide uniform course conditions in such temperamental weather conditions. He needed a better solution for more intelligently identifying which parts of the course needed water, how much and when. He partnered with Rain Bird to conduct a field test of the IC System™ and CirrusPRO™ software to see if it would help.

Project Goals

  • Control irrigation more precisely: apply water only where needed
  • Improve course uniformity

Challenge 1: Unpredictable weather wreaks havoc on the golf course

Rainstorms regularly drench some parts of the course while leaving other areas bone dry.

Solution: “Smart” golf course irrigation system that responds to local conditions

Churchill knew watering by precipitation rate was the key to irrigation uniformity, but he didn’t have a way to do it efficiently. With CirrusPRO, not only would he be able to cut out the tedious task of manually calculating runtime based on precipitation rate, but he could be confident that the system would automatically adjust to changing course conditions based on data on the ground.

Rain Bird Solution: IC System and CirrusPRO Software

With rain cans placed throughout the property, the team leveraged RainWatch™ intelligence to adjust irrigation in real time via Rain Bird Central Control and the IC System. This allowed the system to apply the proper amount of water to areas of the course that received little or no rain, while temporarily reducing or rescheduling areas that received optimal precipitation. “By utilizing precipitation rates, we could begin to incorporate irrigation uniformity and apply the correct amount of water in inches, not just water in time,” Churchill says. “If I told you that it rained for 12 minutes yesterday, what does that mean to you without knowing the intensity of the rain?” Churchill sent his team out, equipped with tablets and smartphones, to audit each rotor on the greens. The resulting data was clear: Required runtime varied from 7 to 16 minutes across the course. This was due to the unique setup of each rotor, including nozzle type, arc and spacing. Armed with this information, the team used CirrusPRO to program each rotor to irrigate by precise measurements. Doing this enabled the crew to correct the algae problems on their greens while greatly reducing the amount of hand-watering needed during the day. “That’s the power of CirrusPRO,” Churchill says. “It allows you to put the water precisely where you need it, and you don’t waste a drop.”

Challenge 2: Easier, more accurate method of tracking

It was too easy for the crew to forget issues they saw on the course when they had to manually track what they found and try to remember to enter it into the central computer at the shop. Churchill needed a method that allowed his crew to make adjustments in real time.

Solution: Mobile app to track conditions and respond on the fly

With CirrusPRO, course superintendents can make updates without having to go to a central computer. All station and program information can be updated in the field.

Rain Bird Solution: CirrusPRO

“CirrusPRO gives us the ability to manage our irrigation system from home or from anywhere in the world that has internet access,” Churchill says. “The flexibility to monitor and operate the system from anywhere in the world is amazing. I can see what’s scheduled to run if I’m not at the course, and I can see what’s been watered throughout the day. Then, If I’m at home and decide to change something, I can do it from the comfort of my own couch.”

Challenge 3: Simplify maintenance and troubleshooting

Spotting — and fixing — a problem before it becomes an expensive issue was challenging for Churchill without a smart software system.

Solution: Diagnostics that provide continuous tracking

The IC System provides 24/7 field-level data about what’s happening on the ground. Those insights give the team the intelligence they need to efficiently maintain the course.

Rain Bird Solution: CirrusPRO™ software

“CirrusPRO diagnostics are unmatched by anything else out there,” Churchill says. “We had our map up on the computer screen the other day. When we came into the shop we saw a rotor with a red icon. We hovered over it and the system showed us that it was registering a lower voltage than it should be. We went out to the sprinkler, found a weak splice, and were able to fix it before it became an issue. What other system in the world warns you before something goes wrong and you see it visually on the map without even asking for it?”


Churchill considers the field test a resounding success. He’d hoped for more precise irrigation control so he could provide a uniform course experience for Kelly Plantation golfers. What he got was a level of control, agility and accessibility he hadn’t anticipated. No matter what strategy Churchill and his team need to use on the course, he’s confident that CirrusPRO will keep up.


“CirrusPRO has been instrumental not only in providing irrigation ease and uniformity, but also in helping to deliver agronomically sound solutions.”

-Kevin Churchill
Kelly Plantation Golf Club

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