Hampton Court Palace Golf Club has become the latest golf club to invest in the new Toro Golf Decoder Controller (GDC) irrigation system.
Owned by Crown Golf, the 112-year-old parkland site in Kingston-upon-Thames is the only course in Britain where golfers can play in the grounds of a royal palace.
Though flanked by the River Thames, the club is all too aware that water is an increasingly valuable resource and so, when its old irrigation system became wasteful, general manager Guy Riggott sought an efficient and cost-effective replacement. "We were losing about 40 per cent of the water with our old irrigation system," Guy recalls. "In this day and age we cannot afford to waste so much water. It's a precious commodity."
Guy turned to irrigation specialist, Irritech, to manage the project and source the ideal system. The company's Roger Davey explains: "I selected a Toro greens, tees and approaches system because the company has an extensive range of sprinklers and its new GDC controller is the most flexible and simple ever to be developed. It's a low-cost decoder system, which uses a single two-core wire path. This makes design and configuration very flexible, significantly reduces installation and cable costs, and ensures efficient use of water."
The installation contract was awarded to Lakes & Greens, from east Sussex, which began the work in September 2007 and completed just six weeks later. "Keeping the course open throughout the installation was one of the main priorities," comments Mike Collins, Lakes & Greens' managing director. "To achieve this we chose the mole ploughing technique to install the pipework rather than trenching.
Among obstacles to overcome was a herd of 350 fallow deer on the course, which, as the team discovered, were very inquisitive. "We couldn't use plastic signs, tape or rope to cordon-off working areas as the deer would have eaten it or, worse, become entangled," adds Mike. "Guy Riggott deserves thanks for his co-operation throughout the project, and Lely [which distributes Toro throughout the UK and Ireland] for helping things run so smoothly."
Toro 834 and 835 sprinklers were used on the greens, tees and approaches and 2001s and 720s on tees. The PC-based SitePro controller operating the entire system enables the course manager to programme a precise watering plan and view the course layout on screen from the comfort of his office. He can also use a hand-held remote control to start the irrigation system when he is out on the course.
Guy is delighted with the installation, as he enthuses: "Lakes & Greens were very professional and caused minimal disruption on the course. Players were very impressed at how little impact the team made during their work and their sympathetic attitude towards golfers. With our new GDC system we can irrigate with pinpoint accuracy and water only where it's needed. As well as saving water, we can meet the different needs of each part of the course to prevent over-watering. This means the course will look its best and we can also minimise disease attacks. GDC is a very sophisticated yet simple system and we are confident the benefits will be significant for the club."
Photo caption: Ensuring the safety of the fallow deer sharing the grounds was a key consideration for installer Lakes & Greens.