The Advantages of Hand Watering – The RIGHT AMOUNT, in the RIGHT PLACE, at the RIGHT TIME!

Over the last 30 years or so we have become spoiled by sophisticated irrigation systems. Systems today offer computer-managed individual sprinkler control. Some even have weather stations and soil moisture sensors to assist in the scheduling of the irrigation. 

These are wonderful tools for golf course superintendents, park and athletic field managers as well as cemeteries to schedule the daily irrigation needs. This can help ensure system-wide and even sprinkler-specific management of the water on a daily basis. 

Sprinklers in these applications generally apply water in radii of 17 – 24 meters depending on the site conditions and design. Often during the heat of the day, the turf develops dry spots that are only a few square meters in area.  If not irrigated quickly the turf could reach its permanent wilting point and die.

Wet and Dry Areas Nearby
Wet Areas Detract From Play

Today’s sophisticated irrigation systems also have mobile phone access capability to activate sprinklers remotely with the touch of a button from virtually anywhere so the sprinklers can be quickly activated when needed.  A 20m sprinkler radius applies approximately 90 liters per minute (24 GPM) of water over an area of 1,256m2.  In many instances, multiple sprinklers are wired together so now the area and amount of water applied can grow by a function of 2 or 3 times. 

Unfortunately, we have been spoiled by the ease of our sophistication and oftentimes misuse the tool.  Rather than hand watering the dry spot a few square meters in area we turn on a sprinkler or two.  Not only does this waste water, but it also applies water in areas not in need causing unnecessary wet spots.  On a golf course, these wet spots detract from the playability of the course as well as the turf quality.

“Coning” Sprinklers Long Term Is a Bad Idea

The answer to this dilemma is to go back to the days before sophisticated irrigation and hand-water the dry spots.  One of the reasons turning on a sprinkler is normally the method taken to solve the problem is because access to water for hoses on the golf course or park is limited. 

Quick couplers are typically only found at greens, tees, and in some cases along the perimeters of grass lines on more elaborate systems.  As a result, access to water for hand watering requires “coning” a valve-in-head sprinkler to provide hose access.

When a sprinkler is coned the internal assembly must be removed and replaced with the adapter/hose.  This solves the problem but in the long term is not a good idea.  There are several reasons why coning sprinklers is a bad deal.

  • Requires extra work and time by the operator.
  • Creates additional wear and tear on the sprinkler and the actuator.  Sprinklers were not designed for this process on a regular basis.
  • Pulling of the hoses puts pressure on the sprinkler as the hose is pulled potentially damaging the sprinkler, swing joint, and service tee. Typically quick couplers are installed with stabilizer arms to protect against this and sprinklers aren’t.
  • Pulling the hoses takes the sprinkler out of level so its’ performance is jeopardized. The sprinkler will need leveling more often.
  • Anywhere a part circle sprinkler is removed for coning when it is replaced it is almost impossible for the operator to put the sprinkler back in with the same arc adjustments as it was originally set causing other problems down the road.

The answer is to have your course set up to allow complete access by hose from quick couplers located adjacent to sprinklers in the fairways and roughs in addition to the typical greens and tees.   A good rule of thumb is to have a quick coupler installed so they are spaced no more than 200’ (60m) apart. In that way, a 100’ hose from each sprinkler could meet in the middle.  I know that sounds like a lot, but in actuality, it isn’t.

Below you will see a sample hole design with the quick couplers spaced as described with the QC’s spaced no more than 200’ (60m) apart.

400 Yard Par 4 Requires (22) Quick Coupling Valves for Complete Coverage

In the example, the gray coverage circles are 100’ in diameter showing the end of a 100’ hose.  In this example, the quick couplers were spaced to the far left side of the hole to allow for coverage deep into the adjacent native grass.  If they were shifted more to the middle the quantity would have been less.  

For a typical golf course, the quick couplers required for complete hose access would be between 350 – 380 per course.  Quick couplers are far less expensive to install than sprinklers since there are no electronics, control or wire required.  Adding quick couplers will give you a big bang for the money spent and they are easy to install.  All you need is a saddle, swing joint, and quick coupling valve.

Adding quick couplers to allow hose access to your entire course will save you money in:

  • Labor – Quicker than coning a sprinkler
  • Repairs – Less wear and tear on sprinklers and fittings
  • Water
  • Power

Additionally, you will eliminate your dry spots without adding to your wet spot problems, making your turf look better and course play firmer and faster.

Start a quick coupler addition program so you can hand water “the right amount of water in the right place at the right time” every time!!

The RIGHT AMOUNT, in the RIGHT PLACE, at the RIGHT TIME! – Raevo Golf Club, Moscow, Russia