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Preventative Maintenance Tips for Golf Course Irrigation Systems

Regarding golf course maintenance, most golfers tend to think about lawnmowers and the “mystery shed” they accidentally hit with their last slice.

They may not realize that beneath the ground they’re standing on resides hundreds of miles of underground wires, ~ 2,000 sprinklers, and control boxes that make up the $2 million-dollar irrigation system that most modern golf courses have.

A golf course’s irrigation system and maintenance are critical in keeping the course playable and preventing the need to replace or make major repairs to the $2 million system. We’ve come up with some simple maintenance tips you can follow to help ensure the longevity of your irrigation system.

Daily Maintenance

Daily maintenance starts long before the first golfer reaches the tee box. An employee should check sprinkler nozzles daily for wear, tear, and clogs. Look for wet spots that indicate a malfunctioning irrigation system—the same goes for dry spots.

Remember also to check and record the water usage from the previous night. Recording the amount of water used will establish a baseline and help identify any potential issues indicated by increased water usage.

Weekly Maintenance

Since the sprinklers run at night, any anomalies might not be immediately noticeable. Have your maintenance crew check the sprinklers’ turn rate—are they moving faster or slower than the others?

Have them look at the sprinklers themselves and inspect for leaks or broken pieces of plastic. Are there sprinkler heads that have not fully retracted back into the ground? If there are, it could be a sign of a clog.

The software that controls the database should also be updated accordingly. Check any open repair work orders and see if there are any hold-ups, such as parts that are on backorder or discontinued.

Monthly Maintenance

Since golf course grass tends to grow very fast due to the regular watering schedule, check the sprinklers to ensure that overgrown weeds or turf are not blocking their ability to function correctly. A quick trim with a pair of kitchen scissors should do the trick.

Look at the pump station, filters, filter screens, and any other mechanical parts that could break or malfunction. Now is also a good time to inventory and purchase additional irrigation repair parts.

Annual Maintenance

The annual maintenance schedule is essential in preventing catastrophic failures of major mechanical equipment such as pumps or regulators. Now is the time to fine-tune your controller programs. Several studies have indicated that many golf courses are overwatered by 40 to 50 percent.

Look at the weather patterns in your area. If you live in an area that gets a lot of rain in the spring or summer, adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Most software programs allow for a “winter” and “summer” watering schedule. Look for areas of grass and turf that need water the most and ensure these areas are getting attention.

Clean Sprinkler Intakes Annually

If you use a pond or lake for sprinkler intakes, it’s essential to have them cleaned at least once a year (maybe more, depending on the local climate). Leaves, debris, and other organic muck can get sucked up into the intake system and wreak havoc upon an irrigation system.

Leaves can get sucked up past the gates and into the pipes and cause sprinkler heads to remain in the “on” position overnight, thereby overwatering an area and causing potential damage to the turf. In cases like this, a professional underwater diving company can help prevent expensive long-term damage by periodically cleaning the intake screens.

Have a Game Plan

Regarding golf course irrigation systems, they tend to break down at the most inopportune times, such as the hottest week of the year. A few days of the grass not being watered can prevent playing conditions from declining rapidly. Have a plan and the necessary parts in stock to help avoid costly downtime.

Make sure rare and hard-to-find parts are purchased and stocked in plentiful supply. You can also create a checklist of who to call and what steps to take in the event of an emergency.

Golf Course Irrigation Intake Screen Cleaning

At American Underwater Services, we specialize in helping golf courses maintain their sprinkler intake systems. Call us today at (817) 377-8512 or contact us to learn more about our commercial diving services, which can exponentially lengthen the life of your expensive golf course irrigation system.



Anthony Di Iulio the founder, president and co-owner of American Underwater Services, Inc., started his business in 1999 with only three employees. Today this commercial diving company employs nearly 30 people and handles over 500 projects annually. Anthony moved to Fort Worth from Louisiana with his family in 1976. He worked summers during high school welding underwater for a marina on Benbrook Lake. Eventually he took scuba lessons after almost drowning on the job. Those lessons led him to training at a deep sea diving school in Houston, which included training on offshore oil rigs. Anthony spent several years in Louisiana working on offshore rigs and on inland jobs at power plants and dams before starting American Underwater Services, Inc.


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