Golf & Country Club

When course superintendent Jennifer Torres came to New Jersey’s Westlake Golf & Country Club four years ago, she found an irrigation system that was aging and fragile — one that had taken a number of serious lightning strikes over the
course of two decades.


“It was touch and go a lot of days to see which sprinkler heads would work,” Jennifer says.

Torres says she was very fortunate that her predecessor at the Arthur Hills-designed club had laid the groundwork for a new golf course irrigation system before she ever stepped onto the property. Thanks to him, the club was already committed to a new pump station and there was growing agreement about a new irrigation installation too. Fortunately, the mainlines on the 22-year-old course still seemed solid, so they had something to work with.

From the start, Torres and her team considered multiple companies to take on the needed renovations, and both Rain Bird and Toro seemed evenly matched on paper — but noticeable advantages began to emerge that gave Rain Bird the ultimate edge.

The team at Westlake used a combination of due diligence, amazing member support and insights from other top turf pros to make their decision. Here are the four steps that helped them get it done.

Step 1: Building the right team

Their first move was to bring on Paul McMahon from Hydro Designs as their golf course irrigation designer.

“Paul is so experienced, and we felt very comfortable communicating with him,” Torres says.

He toured the course, dug into the history of the system, did pressure checks and found some long-lost broken valves that were quickly fixed. He also helped the team realize that they didn’t need to replace the main lines.

“It became apparent that the main line was likely to last another 25 years,” McMahon says. “But there was a lot wrong with everything else — particularly 150 to 200 sprinkler heads that didn’t come on and were poorly placed. At that point, it made sense to do everything but the main line.”

The club agreed and began installation of a new pump station in 2021.

The piping and sprinkler layout would be identical no matter which system they chose — Rain Bird or Toro. The final decision came down to a head-to-head comparison of the costs, features and benefits of the two systems. The final decision came down to budget and to a head-to-head comparison of the costs, features and benefits of the two systems. After proposals were completed and plans presented, it was clear Rain Bird was the best choice.

Step 2: Getting leadership on board

Green committee members Art Lepori and Bruce Haber talked with other superintendents to understand how they approached their golf course irrigation installations.

“One of the key things that made us successful was seeing things firsthand — listening and learning from people who were in the process of doing what we were doing,” Lepori says. “When we were in the field and talked with other golf course superintendents, some of the advantages and features of the Rain Bird system just made more sense. Our original system was Toro, and they had been a good partner, so it wasn’t an easy choice. Jen was admittedly nervous about learning a new system, but the features and benefits offered by Rain Bird made it worth the change.”

But concluding that Rain Bird was the right choice and convincing the membership to part with a chunk of capital were two different things. How did Lepori and Haber build support?

“We did numerous presentations for the governing board and had updates in the monthly member publication,” Lepori says. “We focused on the advantages of the two-wire system versus the old system. We presented in open board meetings and did things like taking turns meeting with the men’s and women’s leagues here to give them a heads-up. By the time the final vote took place, we were able to answer every question and they approved it.”

Step 3: Taking advantage of local expertise

Chris Granger grew up in the irrigation business and now serves as the Rain Bird rep for the area. What struck him most about the Westlake project was the involvement of Lepori and Haber.

“They recognized that something needed to be done and took this on,” Granger says. “They knew this was key to the long-term success of the course and keeping a good superintendent. They were great champions for getting a new system — and for Jennifer.”

The big difference was the shift to a two-wire system and a new supplier, so hearing the experiences of superintendents at clubs like Due Process had an impact.

“Jennifer’s whole background was with Toro Irrigation, so it was important to get her out to talk with other superintendents who’d made this transition,” Granger says.

The ability to upgrade technologies easily was key. It was important for the team to have a hybrid system with Timeless Compatibility™ where each generation of the system could work seamlessly with the next.

Step 4: Having the courage to change

Initially, Torres and her club leadership team leaned toward Toro because of the experience and relationships they’d had with the company previously — but they ultimately chose Rain Bird because of strong recommendations from other courses they had visited with Rain Bird systems and affordability.

Torres and her team appreciate the Rain Bird software and the ability to troubleshoot on their own. Now they can easily tell which heads aren’t communicating, and they’re always notified before something bad happens.

Their new Rain Bird CirrusPRO control system gives them the ability to have the information right at their fingertips. They know what’s running in real time and have lots of options to customize their profile based on needs, weather and more.

“Our team finds it easy to pop on a head for a bit or run a quick voltage check to confirm everything is operating efficiently,” Torres says.

How has life changed for Torres and her team?

Jennifer says the biggest advantage was going to the two-wire system. Now, there are no satellite boxes on the course, and everything is run from the central computer, mobile phone or tablet, making all their jobs easier.


“Now that we have a Rain Bird system, I actually like it better. It’s easier to create programs and a lot more user-friendly.”

-Jennifer Torres
Course Superintendent
Westlake Golf & Country Club

Continue Reading

  • Carlton Woods Golf Course

    Carlton Woods Golf Course chose a Rain Bird IC System and Rain Bird Pump Station with Smart Pump to renovate their Nicklaus golf course irrigation system.

  • Crystal Downs Country Club

    See why Crystal Downs Country Club chose Rain Bird’s golf course irrigation system when they needed a replacement during their renovation project.