Brian Distel, Golf Course Superintendent at Thai Country Club in Bangkok, Thailand has implemented a new and advanced method of managing the greens irrigation on a daily basis at Thai Country Club. The greens are only irrigated by the sprinklers when fertilizer or chemicals are watered in or after cultural practices are performed on Mondays. All other irrigation during the week is only applied using quick couplers to just the areas in need. The process begins with accurate and timely soil moisture readings from his portable POGO Soil Moisture Sensors.
The process has been extremely effective providing the following benefits:
- Improving turf health
- Eliminate algae on greens
- Increased root depth
- Improved playability and golfer satisfaction
- Reduced water and electricity usage
- Reduction in fertilizer and chemical applications required
All the greens are measured using a POGO twice a day and then re-checked after hand watering six (6) days per week except for Monday when the course is closed for maintenance and cultural practices such as vertical mowing and topdressing.
The first measurement is taken by the Irrigator starting at 4:30 am. Eight (8) spots in each green are measured. Each measurement takes only seconds. The most time is spent moving from green to green. The process takes about 2:00 hours per 9 holes with a team working each nine independently.
The data is transferred to the Cloud where it is then available to all who have access such the Irrigators, Supervisors, Superintendent, Golf-Pro and General Manager. The Supervisor and Irrigator receive the feedback of the soil moisture of each green Immediately on their mobile phones. They then know where and approximately how much to apply on each green.
One of the user friendly features of the POGO is the color-coding of the various soil moisture levels. These levels are programmable for each course so they can be setup to each courses specific criteria. Any areas that are not shaded green are then immediately hand-watered. Once the hand watering is complete the irrigator can then go resume his normal duties.
Many would think the hand watering process would be prohibitively time consuming and arduous. However, earlier this year Thai Country Club replaced all of their old technology quick couplers with the new L2 quick couplers from Leemco. The L2 Quick Coupler requires no turning to install so it is much quicker and safe for the irrigator to install and use. Some of this work is performed in the dark which in the past with old style twisting keys could be difficult. The key had to align with the slot in the valve which in the dark could be hard to see. That is no problem with the L2 since it can be installed in any position of the full 360 degree valve stem by just sliding over the top, no slots to locate. The adjustable flow control feature also lets the irrigator vary the amount of water he wants to apply. You can see in the video the process is so easy the irrigator turns on the water virtually one handed.
Once this hand watering has been completed the greens are measure again with the POGO by the Supervisor to double check the accuracy of the watering by the irrigator. The POGO offers a side-by- side comparison of the pre and post hand-watering moisture levels. This instant feedback is extremely valuable in helping the irrigator learn how much water is needed. The image below shows the diverse range of green moisture at 8:07 am before hand-watering and then the uniform soil moisture after hand watering. This clearly shows how much better a playing surface this would provide the golfers!!
The measurement process is then performed again for the 2nd time starting at 1:00 pm in the afternoon. This is to determine any hot spots that may develop during the day. Only those in the red shade are then hand-watered and re-checked. The others are left until morning and the process then repeats itself daily.
Obviously the new and advanced method of managing the greens irrigation on a daily basis at Thai Country Club that Brian has developed is definitely at the cutting edge of water and turf management. At Aqua Turf International we preach the concept of the “Right Amount, In the Right Place At the Right Time” and Brian and his team are doing just that. The POGO and the L2 quick coupler provide them the tools they need to provide the best green condition possible for the members.
Give this method a try; it can work just as well for you!!
Aqua Turf International, Inc., with offices in Jupiter , Florida, USA and Bangkok, Thailand are worldwide leaders in golf irrigation consulting and are irrigation consultants to Thai Country Club.