Toro Distributor Reesink Turfcare’s Irrigation Manager

Robert Jackson

Toro Distributor Reesink Turfcare’s Irrigation Manager

Reading time: 8 minutes

How to save your club time and money: an insider’s guide to upgrading your irrigation system

Sprinklers are integral to any irrigation system, but you may not need to replace a complete sprinkler body to extend the lifespan of your system.

In fact, modern nozzle technology and system control software can extend the life of an existing sprinkler body significantly.

When people talk about renovating and upgrading irrigation, they typically use words like ‘disruptive’ and ‘expensive,’ and it’s tempting to think that updating an irrigation system is a time-intensive process carried out by specialists. But that’s not always the case.

 A Toro irrigation sprinkler head opened from the top for maintenance.

How to save your golf club time and money


In some instances, disruption to play and revenue can occur if an ageing system is beyond economic upgrading, extension, or repair. However, most of the time, it’s possible to breathe new life into an irrigation system with minor upgrades.

And the best part? You can do it yourself!


Understanding your current irrigation system


The type of upgrade and the equipment installed both ultimately impact what can be achieved for your current system and how much it will cost. 

A well-designed, ‘modern’ system that’s been installed to a good standard should be upgradeable, and costs need not be prohibitive. 

The key is to know what you have, and not to be afraid to call in help.

Middlesbrough FC's ground team benefits from the support of Pete Newton of Reesink Hydro-Scapes. Sprinklers are active on the pitch in the background.


Contact the irrigation installation company


Your first port of call should be the original installer of the irrigation system that your golf course uses; they may be able to suggest potential upgrades that won’t break your budget. 

You can also identify what sprinklers were originally fitted and find out if you can upgrade them yourself.

There’s a common misconception that you must replace existing sprinklers with a like-for-like alternative, with no chance of upgrading to a more current design. 

This is not the case with Toro.


How long should an irrigation system last?


When Toro first developed its irrigation strategy, a primary emphasis was on longevity. 

In the USA, a number of surveys and studies have been conducted to establish how long a golf course irrigation system should last. The figures below give us an approximate time frame:


Expected life cycle of irrigation system components


Item Years
Irrigation system 10-30 years
Irrigation control system 10-15 years
PVC pipe (under pressure) 10-30 years
Pump station 15-20 years


However, it’s important to note that arid regions of the US use irrigation systems far more extensively than even the hardest working setups in the UK. So your mileage may vary.

But it’s interesting to note the core hardware, namely the pipes and pumps, could last up to 30 years – even in harsher conditions across the Atlantic. 

The cost of adding new sprinklers and control software is, when put into context, not only an economically viable way of keeping your older systems up-to-date, it’s also a convenient one.

At Toro, irrigation systems are designed to last between 20 to 25 years. So, golf courses running irrigation systems installed in the 1990s all have the potential for upgrades – and they’re easier than you might think…


What makes Toro sprinklers so easy to upgrade?


While modern pumps and revised underground pipe networks will eventually be required, simply renovating parts of your irrigation system may well do for now, which is far less disruptive and costly. And did you know Toro sprinklers dating back as far as the 1960s can be easily renovated?

A close up of an operating sprinkler head at Royal Dornoch.

Upgrades offer clubs more functionality and efficiency, improving performance and water usage. And it’s not just better for your club’s bottom line, it’s better for the planet, too! All you need to do is fit the latest Toro sprinkler head technology to the main sprinkler.

In the case of Toro pop-up sprinklers, the company’s 600 heads that launched in the US in 1967, and 780 units that followed in the 1990s, can be easily changed to current Toro sprinkler heads. Same, too, for Toro Flex 800 units, which launched in 2004.


How does Toro bring innovation to your irrigation system?


Every replacement sprinkler, whether that be Infinity sprinklers or the R series, can deliver design improvements for your current irrigation unit.

Replacements enable you to address specific irrigation issues, such as eliminating dwell points and subsequent pooling. But many fail to realise they can add new and advanced technologies to their existing irrigation system. 

Toro’s Infinity sprinklers, Turf Guard in-ground moisture sensors, and the Lynx control system, for instance, help users coordinate all of their systems and data, allowing them to optimise their overall watering strategy. Innovations from Toro also make systems more user-friendly and don’t require underground changes.

In 2015, for instance,  Premier League football club Manchester City upgraded its Etihad Stadium irrigation system with 16 Toro R Series conversion assemblies. 

Toro sprinklers in action at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium.

These were installed with new artificial turf covers around the perimeter of the pitch, and some of the nozzles in existing bodies were changed to boost overall efficiency and optimise water use. 

A key point, here, is that the original piping system was kept intact and this made it a cost-effective upgrade for the sprinklers and their internals. The upgrade was a success, eliminating the dwell point at the end of each sprinkler arc. 

The adjustable trajectories, which are particularly beneficial on a windy day, can also now be set to minimise drift from the spray. 


The difference between modern and traditional irrigation systems


Modern systems, like Toro’s Lynx, generally consist of a computer-based central controller and a series of interconnected satellites or decoders spread around the course. While older, less advanced systems operate simply by an on-off valve mechanism.

Modern one-way systems communicate with these satellites via the central computer. Whereas two-way systems incorporate extra data that allows the sprinkler to communicate information back to the system and warn the user of, among other things, malfunctions.

This can really help over a large course, doing away with the need to actually go and check that individual sprinklers are operating as they should. 


The benefits of a modern sprinkler system


However, you will almost certainly need to buy complimentary hardware to control various valves. You’ll also need to invest in sensors that alert you to ground moisture and other data. 

But it’s surprising how much technology on the market can be integrated into existing irrigation systems.

Take Toro’s Lynx irrigation control system, for example. This software provides greenkeeping and groundscare professionals with all the information needed to better manage their water and resources. 

In fact, it’s the only PC-based control system for golf and irrigated sports venues available from Toro – and that’s because it does everything. 

It features real-time reactions to weather station and pumpset events, in-depth reports, intelligent diagnostics, and high-resolution map graphics, providing intuitive control for the operator. 


Avoid future disruption by upgrading your irrigation today


New sprinkler designs such as Toro Infinity can drop into existing systems that are decades old without the need for mini-excavators and massive disruption. 

That’s because they have been designed to be upgraded from the top down, with Smart Access allowing future upgrades to be faster, easier, and cheaper. 

Renovating an irrigation system is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to improve the turf’s appearance, playability, and appeal, making your club stand out from the competition.

Costs will clearly vary according to the geography, the size of the course, and local climate, but anything that can improve what you already have, economically, and with minimal disruption, should be seriously considered.

You can talk to our team about upgrading today via info@reesinkturfcare.co.uk