Photo credit: Christoph Städler
One of the top ten courses in Switzerland, Breitenloo Golf Club is a first-class venue with an impressive and immaculately-maintained golf course. Kurt Rossknecht’s 2006 course renovation saw greens and tees redesigned, fairways remodeled and an irrigation schema with four reservoirs. In the latest iteration Germany’s largest design firm Städler Golf Courses redesigned Breitenloo’s 41 greenside and fairway bunkers and extended its existing Rain Bird irrigation system.
Christoph Stadler, golf architect at Städler Golf Courses, decided upon a conservative design approach that focused on redesigning and significantly improving bunkers and extending irrigation coverage, upgrading the existing Rain Bird system with the most up to date technology.
Irrigation consultant Giles Wardle designed an extensive upgrade in a way that enabled the current system to remain operational throughout. An initial inspection confirmed that the ten-year-old Rain Bird system was sound, well maintained and reliable, with good pipework and a cable network with the capacity to be extended.
As this would be a major investment with much of the work underground and not visible, detailed proposals were presented to the club committee at Breitenloo so that everyone fully understood the approach being taken and the benefits for the short and longer term. The club were reassured that current engineering know-how and technology would allow the irrigation system to remain operational throughout, without needing pumps, especially over the summer, and then be quickly switched over.
The unique Rain Bird hybrid solution allowed existing rotors on the decoder cable network to run alongside new Integrated Control (IC) rotors using one Central Control PC. The single-row decoder fairway irrigation was extended, adding two rows of new Rain Bird 752 Series rotors along the outer edges to prevent scallop shaped dry spots. Rotors feature Rapid-Adjust Technology with a MemoryArc® which retains part-circle arc settings so rotors can shift from part-circle to full circle operation in seconds.
Converting existing valve-in-head rotors to IC rotors has achieved more effective water distribution, sward density and a high-quality, uniform appearance. Back-to-back rotors were installed on the green surrounds and created a distinct difference between the semi-green roughs and greens. Rain Bird 1800 Series pop up rotors with R-Van nozzles were installed on turf walkways from the tees up to fairways to enable irrigation and renovation of areas where there was extreme wear and tear from buggies and foot traffic, and on bunker surrounds, which keeps sand moist and has improved the quality of play, reduced dryness and what’s known as ‘fried egg’ lies.
While many renovations are tackled during winter months, unusually, work at Breitenloo was carried out over summer 2020 and into early autumn. Winter work on bunkers can be difficult because sand is wet and ground prone to damage from heavy machinery, but starting on dry ground in July proved to be the ideal time. The club originally thought renovation work would be messy and could potentially disrupt two seasons so was delighted that it was completed in one.
KIBAG Bauleistungen AG managed construction site logistics, local construction and subcontractors: GolfLink Evolve Ltd for bunker renovation (shaping, revetting); Profusion Environmental for installation of the Blinder separation layer, and OCMIS for supplementing and upgrading the irrigation system.
OCMIS began installation in July and finished in early October, three weeks ahead of schedule. In spite of the challenging situation caused by the Covid 19 pandemic and increased social distancing restrictions, OCMIS were well-prepared and organized, with a team member going on site two weeks ahead of the start date, gaining a thorough understanding of site services and for familiarization with Swiss regulations. Installation equipment and techniques were engineered to ensure specialist equipment was able to reach site while complying with the country’s diesel emissions regulations and Covid 19 movement restrictions. To overcome travel restrictions and varying quarantine periods between the UK and Europe, the highly experienced installation team travelled to Switzerland, stayed for the duration and worked in a bubble, like a family.