COLLIER’S RESERVE PUTS WATER WHERE IT’S NEEDED

Collier's Reserve irrigation project
Irrigation system deterioration and reliability issues have really given Collier’s Reserve Country Club in Naples, Florida something to think about over that last few years. After 19 years of operation and weekly repairs of PVC pipe and replacing Pierce fittings, the membership stepped up and unanimously voted to replace the entire irrigation system. This 130 acre, Art Hills designed course is getting a much needed state of the art irrigation system this summer. The Club hired irrigation design consultant A. S. Altum to deliver a new system design to them. President Tony Altum had quite the task in front of him laying out a system that will help the Club maximize their water sources. The Club receives effluent water on a daily basis and it currently can’t use what it has contracted because of poor system performance. With that part of the system not working up to par they have to make up the difference with their surface water pump station. The blending of these waters with high pH, high bicarbonates and high Na gives golf course superintendent Nicholas von Hofen a challenge on a daily basis, and then throw in a few massive irrigation breaks a week and poor water quality and Nicholas stays a very busy man at Collier’s Reserve.
Colliers Reserve irrigation project
During the Spring, the Club hired Leibold irrigation to install the new system. Leibold will be responsible for installing 37,000 linear feet of main line HDPE piping, 65,000 linear feet of lateral piping, 1.2 million linear feet of copper wire and 2,237 sprinkler heads. They will be working over environmentally sensitive areas by attaching 2,100 feet of pipe to bridge crossings around the course and 4,000 feet of directional borings through easements. Nicholas selected the new Toro Lynx controllers and a Flowtronex pumping station with two 60 HP motors that will provide 1,200 gallons per minute.
Collier's Reserve new pump station
The project started in March and will be completed by September. The course is open while the work is being done. Bill Berutti, General Manager and Nicholas decided to close only one hole a day so the contractors can get the work done without having to wait for golfers. Both Bill and Nicholas tell me that the members are extremely happy with the progress and they already see improved turf quality on the holes that have been completed. When this system is done, Collier’s Reserve will have the latest technology for irrigation systems and will surely know where every drop of water is going.
Misting heads at Collier's Reserve

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DROUGHT LEAVING IT’S MARK ON SOUTH FLORIDA COURSES

Hand watering fairways during the 2011 south florida drought by Eric von Hofen
Growing turf in South Florida this year has not been easy.  This past winter brought with it below normal temperatures, with many areas of the state dealing with frost delays and brown turf.  We just can’t seem to catch a break and the hits just keep on coming.  The National Weather Service predicts the drought for this area will last well into the wet season.   Here in Miami, we’ve only had 11.25 inches of rain so far this year.  Naples reports in with only 10.4 inches and Palm Beach with 13 inches of rain this year.  The rainy season usually starts around the middle to end of May.  Hurricane season begins on June 1st and lasts until November 30th. At the rate we’re going, it doesn’t seem like it will ever rain again.

southeast drought monitor by Eric J. von Hofen
The drought monitor shows just how bad the conditions are around the state.  South Florida Water Management District and local water utilities have implemented water restrictions for all golf courses in our area.  Surface water usage must be reduced by 15% and effluent water usage from utilities must be reduced by 35%.   These cut backs change every month because the permitted usage amount during the summer rainy months reflects the historical rain fall that is supposed to happen.  One problem now, it has not rained in the month of June and usage has been cut big time.

Low lake levels by Eric J. von Hofen
To make things worse, many golf course irrigation lakes are drying up and the water level is below the intakes on the pump stations.  The courses that can still pump water are reporting that the water quality is so bad that they are holding off on using it.  The chlorides are high as the water in a swimming pool and the pH is in the 9’s. At this point there is not much you can do other than watch your course burn up and pray for rain.  Courses are going to cart paths only and moving the aeration practices back because you can’t water enough to keep the place alive.  This is how bad it is down here.

I have been using the Harrells Symphony wetting agent product to pull me through these hard times.  We have been spraying the greens and tees with this product and the results have been outstanding.  Hand watering during the day is broken up into teams for the approaches, tees and greens.  The rough is left to fend for itself.  Plant material is stressed out also and water wagons are being used to keep the non native plants alive during this drought.

Golfers have been understanding so far because their yards are also burning up.  Let’s hope things change soon and we get some nectar from the gods.

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