For Dave Gibbons, Course Manager at Little Aston Golf Club, the installation of a new irrigation system brought more than reliability. The Rain Bird® Stratus™ II Central Control System with Decoder field control has become an essential tool in his quest for optimal course conditions and the efficient use of resources.
Dave and his team of six greenkeeping staff are responsible for the 180 acres of parkland course, with elements of heathland across several holes at the West Midlands club, which hosted the Open’s Regional Qualifier and The Ladies’ Home Internationals and ranked 33 in Golf World 2017 England’s Top 100 courses.
Dave decided to tailor the system further by installing Rain Watch™. Catch can rain gauges send rainfall measurements to the control system which automatically adjusts the settings to account for the volume of rain that has fallen.
Dave says, “Knowing exactly how many millimetres of water your turf is getting sounds basic, but Rain Watch™ takes away all the guesswork. It also means being less reactive and no longer having to think about whether to leave the irrigation on or off when you go home. Whether it rains or not, you know your course is getting only the irrigation it needs; nothing more, nothing less. Everyone should have this.”
Making use of the system’s Cycle+Soak™ feature has also made a big difference to his team’s watering practices. Water is applied in increments with a set time in‐between to prevent run off. It prevents water waste and ensures that all the water applied is absorbed by the turf. They conducted a trial on the 2nd and 17th greens, the driest on the course and sharing similar topography. Both are usually hand watered all summer, taking up significant resources which could be used elsewhere on the course.
“We set up Cycle+Soak™ programme on the 2nd green, and left the 17th as the control,” Dave explains. “On the 2nd, we focussed on volume application and adjusting the Cycle+Soak™ settings to ensure that all the water being applied was absorbed. This year we did not hand water the 2nd green much, it made a tremendous difference. Usually the high points dry out in a similar pattern to those on the 17th, and the hosepipe was again permanently sited at the 17th green while conditions were dry. We’ll be setting Cycle+Soak™ up for all the greens ready for next year with the aim of minimising hand watering across the course.”
Lee Knight, Contracts Director at Irrigation Control said: “The improvements Dave and his team have made to the course are clear for all to see. The ability to expand and increase functionality as new technology becomes available was key when making our initial equipment selections, and the addition of Rain Watch will definitely increase the level of control Dave has over his irrigation system”