GPS Mapping - Part 1 of 2

Posted by Craig Zellers

GPS MappingWhen in Drought - Map it Out

The need for golf course water conservation is here and won't be going away. In fact, threats from water agencies to conserve have been sprinkling around golf for many years. Mandated turf reduction and decreased water use have been hot topics for as long as I can remember in the golf industry. In this article we are going to discuss the importance of GPS Mapping and how you can utilize it to plan for and make smart decisions for both your short term and long term irrigation plans.

Do you have a short and long term water conservation plan? Or are you waiting until the water agencies double your rates, enforce lower use mandates, or worse, shut off your supply? $300,000-500,000-plus annual water bills are a reality at quite a few California golf courses. Don't know where to start with your conservation plan? With an Irrigation Map, a plan and communication, superintendents can help prevent the finanicial collapse of their courses and , in some cases, protect their jobs. 

A knee-jerk reaction has been for superintendents to turn "rough" and "out of play" sprinklers OFF. This effort has the immediate effect of decreasing water use by 300-600 gallons per sprinkler per irrigation cycle. The downside of this effort becomes apparent when membership, owners and the daily fee player see dead turf in random sections all over the course. Questions are raised and the integrity of the superintendents actions can quickly become heated board room conversations. 

Any good plan starts with a semi-accurate sprinkler layout map. You may refer to it as an As-Built or an irrigation map/plan. If you can find the originals (which in may cases could be 20-30 years old) or an updated version, either will work for the intended purpose. In some cases a hand drawn course map with sprinklers drawn in can suffice, but the geographic accuracy of the course features compared to sprinkler location can be questionable at best. No matter what type of map you utilize in your efforts, changes in sprinkler types and quantities need to be considered.

The most accurate way of obtaining a useful map is via the use of a GPS mapping collection device. With a GPS unit you can collect sprinkler and satellite information. Simultaneously collecting features such as greens, tees, fairways and turf limits provide an up to date base map. With feautres and sprinklers overlayed on one blueprint, you can start visualizing and drawing up a water conservation plan.

Problem Report

During the GPS mapping data collection process where every station and sprinkler nozzle is observed, you have the benefit of seeing all of the irrigation problems that may exist on the course. A problem report and maintenance schedule should be generated in order to plan repairs or future projects. 

Percise Square Footage

With GPS mapping, an accurate map with features can be utilized to calculate the square footage of greens, tees, fiarways and other measured areas. Having this information can help the superintendent more accurately order the proper amounts of fertilizer, pesticides, seed, topdressing material, bunker sand, and replacement yardage markers. 

In part 2, we will discuss the options of implementing a CIRRUS MAP or T.MAP along with the development of a Turf Plan from the collected data from the GPS mapping collected data.

Part 2 of 2 (click) 

Golf Irrigation Consultants - 415-342-1030