Oakmere Golf Club's course redesign and expansion presented the perfect opportunity for the up-and-coming club to replace its 40-year-old irrigation system with Toro and bring the entire site above par. Those operating the new system can now exact more control and as a result are already seeing water and cost savings, as well as improved turf quality.
The club opted for a Lynx control system and a range of sprinklers, from Infinity to T7s, to not only maintain the course but to "raise its standards and maximise playability," says director of golf Daryl St John Jones. "Our previous system was 40 years old and the pipes were brittle and cracked. This led to huge losses of water. Now we have strong polyethylene pipes and the new system will alert me to any leaks, which is very reassuring and will save us a lot of money."
And with the control provided by his new Lynx system, Daryl is pleased to report the turf is "flourishing": "Lynx gives far more control to the operator; water distribution can be as precise as 5mm to the greens or 4mm to the tees and the weather station monitors the humidity so water is not lost to evaporation. The variation provided by Lynx is great too, as you can give different amounts of water to different greens. Plants are flourishing as the green is never flooded, instead it's given just the right amount of water, and we've seen a significant reduction in our water bills.
"Another benefit of Lynx is it's linked to the internet; our head greenkeeper operates it from his tablet and I use my phone. Thanks to this I can test the sprinklers on course to check if they are working to the correct arc and, should weather conditions suddenly change overnight, the head greenkeeper can log on to the system from home and change the settings accordingly," says Daryl.
Oakmere is in the process of expanding from 27 holes across two courses to 36 holes across three following consultation with leading golf architect Tom Mackenzie. Daryl comments: "We are just about to enter our third out of five years of renovation work. One of our main objectives is to build a nine-hole par three academy course. In doing so, we will cater to golfers of all levels, with the academy course for beginners, the commanders course for intermediates, and the admirals course for championship level players."
The golf complex is open to all abilities all-year-round thanks to its free-draining courses, which remain bone-dry throughout the winter. However free-draining soil does come with its disadvantages: "The sandy ground retains less water and the way the ground holds waters across the courses varies, this made it paramount for us to invest in a quality irrigation system to cater to the needs of the turf," says Daryl.
And by all accounts Toro is delivering, with Daryl noting "improvements to the quality of the courses" since its installation. Combine this with a huge redesign and it looks like Oakmere is set to flourish and grow over the next couple of years.