The Castle Course at St Andrews Links is benefitting from a Toro irrigation upgrade. Moving from Toro Site Pro to Lynx GAC software and from Flex to Infinity sprinklers, the upgrade brings the most up-to-date technology available on the market to this majestic clifftop course.
Forming the first irrigation deal since the Home of Golf reached a long-term agreement with The Toro Company to ensure Toro equipment and irrigation will maintain the seven courses for many years to come, Director of Greenkeeping Gordon Moir says: "The Site Pro system has served us well for many years, although we did suffer a severe lightning storm on one particular occasion, which over time has caused decoder failures. It was also time to extend and enlarge the pipework for an increase in flow, so the timing was right on all fronts. It was an easy decision to choose Lynx from the Toro range. It's the newest system on the market and its features will make life easier from an operational point of view."
Course manager Jon Wood confirms: "Many features stand out with the Lynx software, but especially the mapping and testing capabilities. From behind the desk you can narrow down the problems quickly, so by the time you go out on the course you have a pretty comprehensive idea of what the issue might be. Plus, there's no need for endless sheets of paper, the mapping feature gives you all the site info you need on screen.
"While the software will make a big difference to how we run the irrigation on The Castle Course, making the biggest difference are the Infinity sprinklers. The ground here is different to the other six courses in that it's more soil with a little bit of sand rather than sand-based and that makes it much tougher going when digging up sprinklers for maintenance and repairs. To know that we don't have to do that anymore thanks to the fact that they are accessible from the top is fantastic for the team."
As well as extending and enlarging the pipework, the opportunity was also taken to audit the site and make water savings where possible. That's why the decision was made to break up some of the pairs of sprinklers running down the fairways, as Jon explains: "Out of the 300-400 pairs of sprinklers we have on the course we have split 100 for more effective water consumption. This will prevent over-watering the same area or areas we don't need to water."
The next step in the irrigation upgrade is to move to Toro B-series sprinklers on the tees over winter 2018. This will make all the sprinklers on the course interchangeable so the Trust won't need to hold as much spare stock.
Jon concludes: "We were in America at the Toro headquarters earlier this year and we were talking about upcoming irrigation developments and basically the future is interchangeable. With this combination of Infinity and B-series sprinklers we're not only taking the irrigation on The Castle Course to where it needs to be now, but we're making it future proof, too. From now on, we'll be able to leave the externals and just change out the internals such as the nozzles when required."
And this progressive approach and attitude toward sustainability validates the reasons why St Andrews Link Trust entered into the long-term partnership with Toro this time last year. Not only was it felt that Toro was the best choice to maintain the playing conditions required now, but also gave the best fit for the club's vision for the future, which is nicely illustrated here.