Carlton Woods
Golf Course

At an elite 36-hole facility near Houston, the decision to replace a decades-old golf course irrigation system led the director of agronomy and his team to choose Rain Bird IC—but the choice of pump stations presented some twists. In the end, continuity, efficiency, and capabilities made the Rain Bird Pump Station a perfect fit.


As an entire generation of facilities built 25 or 30 years ago begins to address the critical need for modern golf course irrigation, the equally important need for the right pump station to power those systems looms large.

This was a decision the 36-hole Club at Carlton Woods in the golf-centric Woodlands community near Houston recently faced. The facility had given the green light for a new irrigation system for their Nicklaus course due to age, obsolescence, and plans for a significant renovation driven by the demands of hosting one the LPGA’s major tournaments, the Chevron Championship.

Tim Huber, the club’s director of agronomy, led the effort to choose a new irrigation system. He worked with veteran irrigation consultant Dan Farrier to assess their needs and compare the available options.

The Carlton Woods team experienced four key benefits from selecting a Rain Bird system combined with a Rain Bird Pump Station.

Key Factors

  • Continuity: New Rain Bird Pump Station and Rain Bird Central Control connect flawlessly.
  • Accountability: Dealing with a single supplier has advantages.
  • Mainline costs: Expensive mainline expansion was not needed.
  • Quality: Rain Bird Pump Station is engineered to last.
  • Affordability: Rain Bird Pump Station is competitively priced.

1: Continuity

Huber was surprised to find that supply chain issues and other factors meant the same pump station components he’d purchased for his Fazio course a few years ago would be significantly more expensive and unavailable for five to six months.

“As we talked with the Rain Bird team about the Nicklaus renovation, they pointed out that their pump station could provide us with a lot of continuity. They quoted it for us, and it was more reasonably priced than the competitive system, so we decided to give it a look.”

He points out that Rain Bird pump stations will work with any system. “But the advantage of installing with a Rain Bird system is you get the total package. The irrigation system and the pump station work together seamlessly.”

In the end, having one company to deal with from the water source all the way out to the sprinkler was a huge advantage for Carlton Woods, as was the ability to integrate pump information and sensor information and control it all remotely via the CirrusPRO software.

Based on all that, Huber was sold on the idea of combining a Rain Bird Pump Station with his new Rain Bird irrigation system on the Nicklaus course. Huber notes that it was a good economic choice compared to the competitive golf course irrigation system, and they were able to deliver in just 8 to 12 weeks.
“It was cost-effective, more available, and it had continuity with the new system we were installing. The efficiency of an all-VFD drive was also appealing. Three motors can consume a lot of electricity, so it’s nice to save on that and extend the life of the motors.”

The Rain Bird team worked with irrigation consultant Dan Farrier to design the pump station. “He sent them a spec sheet of what it needed to be in terms of pipe size and flow,” says Huber. “Rain Bird came back with a really nice schematic very quickly. You could tell they knew what they were doing, and that was comforting.”

2: Efficiency

Carlton Woods also saw the advantages of Rain Bird’s Smart Pump software in the Rain Bird Central Control that fully integrates the entire system, communicates constantly between the pump station and irrigation system, and allows them to make changes on the fly for optimized efficiency. Essentially, it allows the system to make the same decisions and corrections the turf team would.

Those decisions enhance efficiency. For example, if a motor shuts down in the middle of the night, the Carlton Woods system can readjust the flow capacity on the fly and continue to run the rest of the night. That means peace of mind for Huber and his team.

3: Durability

The team at Carlton Woods doesn’t have to worry about blown fuses, a common issue with other stations. They’re able to rely on mechanical circuit breakers used in the Rain Bird Pump Stations.

Huber can also count on his station’s powder-coating to protect against worsening issues with salt and effluent in water. As a result, the skids and piping manifolds last longer.

4: Single Supplier

Being able to work with one supplier from reservoir to rotor was the final advantage that made selecting Rain Bird the right choice.

“I organized meetings with the potential suppliers to come in and do presentations for our key managers and my team,” says Huber. “I talked to a lot of folks I respect at comparable facilities. Two of the big factors were that around 75% of the big-name courses in the country are going with Rain Bird systems. Merion, Shinnecock, Oakland Hills, Whispering Pines … the list goes on. The second big factor was when the Rain Bird team started the meeting by saying, ‘This is all we do.’ My GM loved it. He really appreciated that focus.”

Irrigation consultant Dan Farrier felt that the combination of the system and the pump station was a good choice for Carlton Woods. “Working with Rain Bird was great. They helped show them how well the pumping system integrates with the irrigation system. Tim is a forward thinker, and I believe he saw the benefits of that. Finally, the level of service and care from Rain Bird really helped, too.”


“The renovation of the Nicklaus course was extremely complex because we weren’t renovating the whole course,” Huber says. “We were just doing features: tees, bunkers, greens. But the fairways were staying in place. So, we had to figure out how to keep the old system working while the new one was installed. We started doing the mainline before the tournament and got about half done. The goal was to get the new pump station in before any grass went down.”

The timing was critical. “We had one week during the first week of July without irrigation. The good news was we didn’t have sprigs or sod down, but it was hot. The new Rain Bird pump station went in without a hitch. When we fired up the system, there were absolutely no problems. It was flawless—like a dream. From day one, it was great, and it still is.

“For me, it all goes back to continuity,” Huber concludes. “First, it was nice to work with one supplier. And it was supported by our irrigation consultant, who said, ‘I don’t think you’re going to go wrong if you choose the Rain Bird station.’ There was just one logo on the equipment, just one company to talk with. We are very happy with that choice.”


“The new Rain Bird pump station went in without a hitch. When we fired up the system, there were absolutely no problems. It was flawless—like a dream. From day one, it was great, and it still is.”

-Tim Huber
Director of Agronomy
Carlton Woods Golf Course

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