Buckinghamshire Golf Club in Denham has dramatically cut its annual water bill after upgrading to a Gemini-Trident Irrigation (GTI) system from Bailoy Products.
Course manager Andy Ewence joined the 18-hole parkland course in November 2011 and made addressing the irrigation system’s problems a top priority. He found the 20-year-old control system cumbersome and inflexible, and was unhappy with the UK support system. But, with the pipework and sprinklers still sound, there was no justification for spending some £500,000 on an all-new system.
Instead, Andy chose to upgrade to Bailoy’s GTI computerised central control system, which uses decoder field hardware and GTI software to better manage the course’s irrigation programme. “I wanted a flexible system that could do more,” Andy reveals. “So we looked at retrofit alternatives and GTI really appealed. I liked that all we really had to change was the controller. The infrastructure is still the same. I have 800 to 1,000 sprinkler heads, so it was also crucial that the wiring was compatible or otherwise we’d have had to rewire all of the heads.”
In fact, GTI is fully compatible with most existing systems, which is why it has proved popular with an array of clubs and venues seeking a quick, easy and cost-effective irrigation upgrade both in the UK and worldwide. But, on top of that, Andy has found the efficiency savings of up to 20 percent achieved since contractor MJ Abbott installed the system have made GTI a particularly prudent investment.
“When we decided to go ahead with the system, I estimated we’d save 10 percent a year, but we’re already ahead of that target,” he adds. “I reckon it’s saved us £8,000 to £10,000 already in water bills. As of early September, that means the system has paid for itself – and we still have a couple of months of watering left in the year. We were spending £45,000 on water annually, so the savings are going to be significant. The club’s managing director and finance director are delighted.”
These impressive savings are thanks to the GTI system accurately controlling where water is going, how much is being applied and to which sprinklers. “Every green is different here – some are wet, others are dry and shady – so that’s a big benefit,” Andy says. “We only water as much as we need to now.”
Bailoy designed GTI with ease of use in mind and that’s a big attraction as far as Andy’s concerned. “What I like about the system is that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to use it! I can even train the guys how to use it myself, which means I can leave them to it when I’m away – knowing that even if they did make a mistake the computer won’t let you input something silly! I can access it wirelessly from home or even abroad, too. That’s been great because I can remotely check faults and tell the team what to do. I also live 25 miles away from the course, so it saves me having to make a return trip.”
But if there’s an issue Andy can’t resolve, he’s pleased the experts at Bailoy are a mere phone call away. “I’m really happy with the support from Bailoy. There are a lot of pressures in this job and I reckon irrigation causes greenkeepers the most stress! Especially when you’re hosting a competition during a hot summer spell, like we just have with the Ladies British Masters. But knowing that you’ve got technical support, that takes the pressure off a bit. It’s great to know Bailoy are always on the other end of the phone. But fortunately we didn’t need them during the Masters!”
A favourite feature of Andy’s is the Visual Irrigation Programme (VIP), which displays a full-colour map of the course for quick and easy on-screen checks and changes to watering schedules and programs. “I do like the map – it’s great for fault-finding and diagnostics. You can check the sprinklers are working as they should be with a few clicks and, if they’re not, resolve issues straightaway. And now when our contractor MJ Abbott comes, instead of me saying there’s a problem on the fairway and them spending half a morning checking each head, I can say ‘it’s the second sprinkler on the left’ and tell them exactly what’s wrong. It saves us so much time.”
Despite heavy rainfall this summer, Andy says there are noticeable improvements to course conditions. “With our old system, the sprinklers came on all at once for the same length of time, which just isn’t what the course needs. But the flexibility of GTI has really helped with conditions. For instance, we had a green that kept drying out in areas, but I’ve adjusted the irrigation timings and it’s now one of our best greens. For me, GTI has helped me get to know the course better and tailor the watering to it. It feels like it’s set up just right at this point. And the course is going to be in even better condition next year as a result. Overall, we’re really happy.”
Bailoy’s GTI is suitable for both refurbishment and new-build projects across an array of golf, sports and amenity turf applications.
Bailoy Products Limited www.bailoy.com
Buckinghamshire Golf Club www.buckinghamshire-golfclub.co.uk