Irrigation Equation

Ahhh.  Water.  It’s earth’s most abundant compound.  It can be easily found naturally in all three of its states.  It’s weird and defies logic.  It’s the universal solvent.   It expands when it freezes.  When you really think about water, it’s pretty amazing.  We have experienced mass amounts of water.  We have experienced lack of water.  Now, I’ll tell you all about what we do to NOT experience the problems with water when it freezes.  Basically, if I’m having trouble sleeping at night.  It probably has to do with water.  We either have too much, too little, or I drank too much of it.  Either way, it all equates to less sleep.

As I have mentioned before, I’m the eighth generation in my family to live within a five mile radius of the golf course.  In other words, I’m not moving.  I like my family, but most importantly, it’s kind of hard to move a golf course.  It’s a good thing that my family is so charming because I can’t say that I’m a big fan of the cold.  I’m so glad that I have children because they make me enjoy snow.  It’s coming, though.  Iowa’s winter.  We must prepare.  With our forecast, the golf course has been buzzing with all of the preparations that go into preparing for our freezing weather.

On Monday, we spent the morning blowing out our irrigation system.  It’s always a fun process to get to witness.  The last few weeks, we have been busy taking our ponds down as low as they could go to make sure we went into spring with some good foundation and moisture.


We do our best to wait until the very last minute before we stop watering the golf course.  After seeing the forecast with temperatures dipping into the teens, we realized that it was time to button up the irrigation for another year.  First up, we had Contractor’s Rental deliver us a massive air compressor.  They are one of the few places that have an air compressor that is big enough to blow out the irrigation system.  The air must circulate through miles of pipe, so it has to be powerful to make its way around the golf course.

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The compressor has many crazy dials on it that make it seems very George Jetson-ish.

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The intake valves are removed from the pump house.  These are the huge pipes that carry water from our ponds to the pump station.  Here it is removed.

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For reference, here is a picture from earlier this year (taken from the opposite angle) which shows both pipes going into the pump station.


These are very long pipes that suck the water out of the pond and push it into the pump station, so water can be distributed onto the golf course.  The pipes are removed.

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Then the real work begins.  To prevent damage to the irrigation system caused by freezing, all of the water must be drained from the pipes.  First, we drain the system naturally using gravity.  All of the water that has been primed in the system is let back into the ponds.  When that is done, then the air compressor is connected to the pump station.


The guys start at the high point on the course and begin opening valves to let the air out of the system.  As they open up the valves, excess the water from the system escapes.

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The water blows out of the sprinkler heads.

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As the water leaves the system, less and less water blows out of the sprinkler heads.

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Eventually, only air is blowing out.  2013-11-10 23.50.41

Once only air is blowing out of the system, they move down lower in elevation on the golf course and release a new set of valves.

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The last and lowest areas on the golf course are the practice green, new ceremony site, number ten tee box and the driving range.  There is a very loud hissing noise that can be heard which is the sound of the air pushing through the system.2013-11-10 23.59.33A large air compressor is required to complete this job because there are literally miles of piping that run underneath the surface of the golf course connecting the entire irrigation system.  In a sense, the irrigation system is the lifeline of the golf course.  Our pump station is kind of like the heart and all of the pipes are veins and arteries that carry the sustenance needed to grow grass.  Water.  It is critical that all of the water gets blown out of the system because the freezing nature of water would cause those pipes to break and we’d have a major disaster on our hands in the spring.

The whole process took about six hours to complete.  Just as we were finishing up, the snow began to fly.  Nothing like cutting it close, huh?


How about you?  Do you have an irrigation system at your house?  Maybe a camper?  There are many steps that come into play as we prepare for winter.

Post by Allison

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