Is it Time to Replace or Upgrade the Irrigation System for Your Golf Course?

Upgrade or Replace Your Current System?

What’s a safe range for new golf course irrigation systems? According to a Golf Course Industry estimate, you should plan on spending between $ 750,000 to $3 million to replace the irrigation system on your 18-hole golf course. For more elaborate replacements, the bill could exceed $5 million. Compare that with upgrades that will make the average golfer happy, like hitting the ball out of a new bunker?

To successfully pitch a complete replacement, you have to show considerable evidence that the future of the green depends on it. Therefore, after conducting an initial inventory of your current system, it's a good idea to have a list of priorities you could tackle as independent upgrades.


Signs You Need to Replace the Irrigation System

By design, golfers remain blissfully unaware of the golf course irrigation system that keeps the turf in pristine condition. With the rising cost of water, an efficient irrigation system is now a must-have rather than a feel-good move for the eco-friendly crowd. 


How can you inventory the wear and tear of your irrigation system’s sprinklers, fittings, pipes, controllers, and other components? You can start with age. Irrigation systems and individual components tend to have a predictable useful life. For example, many irrigation systems begin to break down more often and become less cost-effective to fix as they approach the 25-year mark. Additionally, as technology improves, parts can become obsolete after 10 years or so.


Of course, you have to handle this on a case-by-case basis, as some systems can last well beyond their predicted useful life. Golf course architects recommend guidelines for replacement or upgrade of various irrigation components, as follows:


  • Irrigation system:  10 – 30 years
  • Irrigation control system: 10 – 15 years
  • PVC pipe: 10 – 30 years
  • Pump station: 15 – 20 years


These are general estimates. For example, golf courses in Ontario do not need to irrigate year-round and may last longer than courses in the drier areas of the United States.  At the same time, the freeze/thaw cycles of northern climates also create wear and tear on pump stations, central systems, weather stations, and other equipment and parts. Additionally, winterization can take its toll on fittings and pipes.


Make a Case for Replacing Your System

It's essential to track the cost of various repairs you make to sprinklers, pump stations, control systems, and pipes. This can help you make a case that the costly repairs and the risk of a catastrophic failure necessitate upgrades or replacements.

Older systems that gobble up water can quickly accumulate rising costs that make it impossible to stay in business. Additionally, older systems lack smart controls that allow golf course administrators or contractors to care for the turf properly. Compared to spreading out improvements over three to four years, this might seem like an attractive option for golf course managers and decision-makers.

How to Budget and Plan for a New Irrigation System

Member reviews and feedback, sustainability issues, and other factors tend to drive critical decision-making about upgrades and replacements to golf course irrigation systems. If you can find essential projects, such as fairway conversions to low water turf, you can save your club significant money over time.


Holding fundraising events such as tournaments can also help you raise the profile of the golf course and begin to build up the resources needed to invest in a control or weather station, replace the sprinklers, and conduct other essential irrigation system changes.


Our team at Vanden Bussche is experienced in the design and installation of golf course irrigation systems across Ontario. Talk to us about your irrigation needs today, and let us help you. Call any of our locations across Ontario or contact us online.