For golf to grow and be profitable we must intelligently manage the cost of golf construction and irrigation in particular. However, in so doing we need to balance the expectations of the golfers based on what they paid to play or be a member against potential cuts in the irrigation investment and system performance. Your irrigation system is a serious investment and is critical to the long-term success of your golf course. Please take the time to review the documents we have provided to help you ensure your investment is a wise one.
In our continual efforts at ATI to match the proper system to the client’s needs we have developed the attached Budget Planning Matrix to be used in combination with this document. Please click the links below to download the complete Budget Planning Matrix, Budget Planning Matrix Notes and the Budget Planning Matrix Guide.
If you are in the process of establishing the budget for your irrigation system we hope that you have first answered the twenty (20) questions we posed in our blog “Golf Irrigation Budget Planning – Considerations for Establishing a Budget and the Level of Irrigation Investment”. It is important to understand that at ATI, as independent consultants, we do not sell irrigation materials and have nothing to gain or lose by the owner spending more on the irrigation system. We have decades of experience in golf irrigation systems. We have also been hired dozens of times to help customers try to fix the problems with the inadequate irrigation systems due to a lack of investment in the beginning. Our goal is to help you:
- Do it right the first time
- Invest your money wisely
- Create satisfied golfers
- Reduce you long-term cost of ownership
- Efficiently utilize your water, power and labor resources
- Design a system that can be adapted in the future if needed to meet your budget while achieving the goals listed above
In the Matrix and Guide we evaluate each of the key components of the system listed below. The topic of Installation and bidding along with a summary of the Budget Process are also included.
- Sprinklers and Coverage
- Pump Station
- Control System
- Pipe Fittings and Valves
We also use several tools to help you evaluate each of the key components of the system to help you best determine the importance and value of each irrigation feature. In this manner you can best decide the areas that you can consider reducing costs and those that require more investment.
Those tools include:
- Irrigation Reliance
- Star Rating
- Cost Saving Percentage
- Efficiency Loss Percentage
- Playability Loss Percentage
The first consideration is to accurately determine your irrigation reliance. If your system is in Northern Sweden your irrigation reliance will be much lower than that of Dubai. This document assumes a reasonably high reliance on irrigation which is typically the case. Areas with a low reliance on irrigation are normally places that are not well suited for golf in the first place due to the poor weather conditions. It should be noted that even areas that are cold and rainy for much of the year can have very hot and dry summers, so don’t be fooled. If the season is short your clientele will have high expectations when the weather is good.
There are several choices that need to be made that directly affect the budget and design. In an effort to simplify these choices we have assigned a One (*) to Five (*****) Star Rating to each category. Based on the rating level where you want your course belong in the marketplace these ratings may help. If you think you will have a Five-Star golf course with a Two or Three Star irrigation system you are kidding yourself. It may work for a while right after grow-in, but sooner than later you will pay the price.
Cost Saving Percentage
Savings in the cost of the irrigation system are realized as you move down the rating scale from 5-Star (*****) to 1-Star (*). For the sake of simplified evaluation we are assuming that the 5-Star (*****) irrigation system in the Matrix is the most expensive. We then deduct from that cost based on the lower rated product or design choices. We used percentages rather than currency since this is a worldwide generalized document and cost can vary significantly around the world based on duty, shipping and other factors. ATI can assist in developing a more detailed evaluation if you so desire to determine the potential costs for each category. The bidding process will provide the final accurate cost which can then be negotiated to meet you budget. The bidding process is described at the end of the Guide.
Unfortunately, cuts in the irrigation investment come with a price in reduced efficiency and playability of the golf course. We have included in the Matrix an Efficiency Loss Percentage and a Playability Loss Percentage were applicable to help you quantify the long-term effects of the cuts you are considering prior to making them.
Efficiency Loss Percentage
In addition to the Star Rating consideration should be given to the long-term ” Cost of Ownership” versus the system purchase price. Some of these costs of ownership that could be increased from a lack of investment in your irrigation system include:
- Water Cost and/or availability
- Power Cost
- Labor Cost
- Cost of Ongoing Repairs
- Lost Revenues Due To Extended Grow-In Time
- Lost Revenues Due To Lost Membership of Green Fees
Not all irrigation systems operate at the same efficiency. Irrigation systems all may look like they are throwing water all over the place but the similarities stop there. Several factors affect the efficiency that we will attempt to explain. As you make less expensive choices of products and reduce your investment with a lower star rating these choices will also result in reduced efficiency. To help you quantify these inefficiencies we have added an Efficiency Loss Percentage. No irrigation system is 100% efficient. However, for the sake of simplified evaluation we are assuming that the 5-Star (*****) irrigation system in the Matrix is 100% efficient. We then deduct from that efficiency based on the lower rated product or design choices. Based on your costs of water, power or and other potential “Costs of Ownership” you can then roughly determine the long-term cost you will suffer for making a less efficient choice. The percentages a relative and not scientific but they are reasonably close based on our experience and knowledge of the products and applications. ATI can assist in developing a more detailed evaluation if you so desire to determine the potential long-term costs or savings.
Hopefully your costs and availability of water, power and labor are low. If not then you will have to make the decision to “Pay now or pay later“. It may be very possible that you need and want a better system but the funds are just not available at the time of construction. However, they may become available once the course is open and cash flow is established. With proper communication we can help design a system that can be upgraded later to meet your needs and your budget. If not, you will pay more for the life of the irrigation system that is hopefully thirty years or more.
Playability Loss Percentage
When determining your irrigation investment consideration should be given to the reduced playability that your clientele will be faced with due to the cuts made. Some of these reductions in playability that will result from the lack of investment in your irrigation system include:
- Increased wet and dry spots detracting from the quality of the turf
- Soggy fairways making the course play longer and unfair in places such as green approaches
- Sparse turf in the rough
- Wet green side bunkers
- Excessive weed growth in native areas slowing play
- Unsightly repair holes from digging up and replacing inferior products
- Irrigation operating during play
Several factors affect the playability that we will attempt to explain. Like with efficiency, as you make less expensive choices of products and reduce your investment these choices will result in reduced playability. To help you quantify these downgrades we have estimated a Playability Loss Percentage. No irrigation system is 100% efficient, but some are 100% playable! For the sake of simplified evaluation we are assuming that the 5-Star (*****) irrigation system in the Matrix produces a 100% playable course. We reduced the playability percentage from the 5-Star (*****) 100% rating based on the reductions in the irrigation system performance as the Star Rating declines. Our percentages are based on our experience and assume a high irrigation reliance during peak season. Obviously, the playability of any course requires that an equal invest is made in a qualified superintendent as well as adequate equipment and labor.
Please review the Golf Irrigation Budget Planning Matrix Spreadsheet and Guide prior to making decisions that directly affect the cost of your system, how it performs, effects playability and costs to operate. Once installed, the inadequacies in your irrigation system will be much more costly to fix or upgrade and the repairs will cause serious disruption to your course and customers. Please do the right planning in advance. If you do not have enough money to do now what you eventually need, then ATI can work with you to make sure it will be achievable in the future with the least amount of cost and disruption.
Other Related ATI Reference Documents:
- Golf Irrigation Budget Planning Matrix Spreadsheet
- Golf Irrigation Budget Planning – “Considerations for Establishing a Budget and Selecting the Level of Irrigation Design and Investment”
- Irrigation Design Checklist
- Value Engineering Options
- Why Hire an Independent Consultant?
- Satellite versus Decoder Control System Comparison
- Green Layout With In and Out Part Circle