Maintaining irrigation repairs at Hanging Rock Golf Club

To extend the life of an aging irrigation system, a Virginia superintendent looked to a more durable pipe-connecting option.


Hanging Rock Golf Club
Hanging Rock Golf Club in Salem, Va., was designed by Russell Breeden and opened in 1991. According to its website, the course sits on the site of the June 1864 “skirmish at Hanging Rock,” a brief but deadly clash during the Civil War. Photos courtesy of Hanging Rock Golf Club

Located at the base of Fort Lewis Mountain near Roanoke, Va., Hanging Rock Golf Club offers views of sweeping mountain vistas that have earned it national accolades. Superintendent Brian DeWeese is always looking to ensure the 18-hole public course lives up to its reputation, which, to a large extent, means ensuring the course is consistently watered.

Hanging Rock’s irrigation system was originally installed 28 years ago and consists of 5 miles of PVC pipes that are 6 inches, 4 inches and 3 inches in diameter. The irrigation system’s durability is a constant focus for DeWeese, and the 23-year GCSAA member makes every effort to repair pipes quickly to minimize disruption to play.

“The water pumps are the heart of the golf course,” DeWeese says. “The course quickly deteriorates if it isn’t properly irrigated, and deters golfers from returning. Maintaining the grounds is the highest priority in keeping golfers happy, especially during the summer months when the course is busiest and needs to be cared for the most.”

The challenge

About five years ago, the piping in Hanging Rock’s irrigation system was approaching the end of its life expectancy, and the need for DeWeese and his team to make pipe repairs was becoming more common.

Given the course’s proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the ground at Hanging Rock consists of clay and rock, which makes the irrigation system’s pipes vulnerable to being punctured when the ground shifts during winter freeze and spring thaw. The hard clay also makes aligning pipes difficult when attempting to glue on new sections of pipe to replace damaged pipe.

“Digging into the rock and clay is hard work, and it takes time to return the turf to pre-repair condition,” DeWeese says. “When you factor in labor costs, making the repair quickly can make a huge difference both in terms of maintenance expenses and allowing golfers to resume playing.”

The solution

For DeWeese, HYMAX couplings offered a means of efficient, sturdy pipe repair that also allowed for the golf course to remain open with minimal disruption. A few factors made HYMAX couplings advantageous:

1. Fast and easy installation. Each coupling’s two top-facing bolts meant that those installing them at Hanging Rock could place a coupling onto the connecting pipes without under-digging, a key benefit given the clay and rock composition of the ground. Instead of using glue to join the PVC pipes — a time-consuming and complicated process — the HYMAX couplings slide on easily and connect new sections of pipe with only two bolts to tighten. The HYMAX couplings allow for 4 degrees of angular deflection, allowing even off-center pipes to be connected securely.

“If the pipes weren’t perfectly aligned within the clay and rock, we could still connect the pipes and know that the construction was strong and durable,” DeWeese says.

HYMAX couplings also feature a radial closing design and sealing system with up to 1.3 inch of range, which allows them to connect pipes of different diameters and materials. With the fast and easy installation of the two-bolt couplings, DeWeese’s team could make repairs within hours — as opposed to an entire day — to bring water service back online quickly.

2. Strength and reliability. Post-installation, HYMAX couplings can dynamically deflect up to 4 degrees, allowing pipes to shift and thus reducing the risk of pipe damage and cracking. When pipe is simply glued together, ground shifts can cause recurring stress on or near the repair, resulting in the eventually pipe breaking or cracking. HYMAX couplings last over the long haul, however, acting as a kind of shock absorber so a water system can withstand such pressures.

HYMAX irrigation couplingHYMAX couplings feature a one-piece design to deliver fortified strength and enhanced flexibility, and they have a fusion-bonded epoxy coating that insulates against corrosion, with nuts, bolts and other components made of stainless steel. A unique dry treatment process on nuts and bolts, based on embedded zinc, prevents galling and enables repeated bolt tightening. The anti-galling also eliminates the need for grease, preventing dust and dirt buildup.

3. Cost savings. DeWeese found that HYMAX couplings’ fast and easy installation and long-term reliability delivered excellent value. His labor costs decreased, as fewer workers were needed to install couplings given their two-bolt closing mechanism, wide range and dynamic deflection.

“Over time, the HYMAX offered a good return on investment compared to simply using glue to fix PVC pipe,” DeWeese says. “The repair is very durable, and we don’t have to worry about coming back to it again.”

Even if pipes weren’t perfectly aligned within the ground’s rock and clay, they could still be restored, and after HYMAX couplings were installed, connecting pipes could absorb stresses. Hanging Rock Golf Club can now be irrigated consistently and properly to give golfers high-quality playing conditions without any interruptions.

“At the end of the day, it’s about keeping golfers happy,” DeWeese says. “If that can be accomplished, then I know I’ve done my job.”

John Robertson is the irrigation sales manager for Krausz USA, maker of HYMAX couplings.

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