If you are installing an irrigation system which includes a new mainline installation, you are going to be digging up a large part of your golf course. That’s a given. Much of the cost of the mainline installation work will be excavating the trench, backfilling and compacting the fill and lastly loaming and seeding the trench or hopefully replacing the sod over the trench line that had been previously stripped.

Granted, there is the cost for the wire and pipe in the trench, but the significant costs are in the excavating and restoration. As such, if you want to save some money at the time you’re installing new mainline, you need to consider anything else (whatever) you may want to include in that trench while it is open. It will be way less expensive to install the “whatever” now while the trench is open then it will be to excavate and restore a separate trench for the “whatever” later.

So what might a “whatever” be? Unfortunately, in today’s technology age “whatever” is pretty much a moving target. What may make sense as not being needed today, may be something you wished you had thought of in the future. Let your imagination be limitless.

Certainly, there are the obvious items that have been considered for years. These include water lines for drinking fountains out on the golf course as well as their electricity if they are going to be mechanical units. Power for green fans is also something else that is commonly installed today. Consider power to the practice range so the golf pro can set up a video camera or power the ball washer. I have seen golf courses install power to each green so they can run lights to aerate at night to prevent interference with play during the day.

The wire or pipe for these other uses can all go in the same trench as the irrigation mainline allowed by code. But you need to make sure that there is separation between conflicting uses such as data wires and power wires. High voltage, 480 volts for example, cannot be in the same trench as a communication cable.

So what might a ‘whatever’ be? Unfortunately, in today’s technology age “whatever” is pretty much a moving target. What may make sense as not being needed today, may be something you wished you had thought of in the future.”

Some of the more uncommon things to consider adding are sewer lines for restrooms and their water supplies and electrical power. Data communication between the halfway house and clubhouse so it can be part of the food and beverage automatic billing system is also an idea for some courses.

What about “whatevers” you have not thought of yet? How about infrastructure to supply a Wi-Fi or fiber optic network throughout the golf course? It may not be used now, but who knows what it could be used for in the future. So what can a Wi-Fi or fiber optic network allow you to do? Security cameras could be easily installed, gate automation, golf cart tracking and if you want maintenance equipment tracking.

And more than likely unmanned mowers in the future. By having these items already installed, it allows you to be open to new technologies at a much lower entry cost than if a Wi-Fi or fiber optic network needed to be added separately to utilize these new technologies. Have no idea? If nothing else, just put in some empty conduit with the mainlines for direct routes between facilities.

Recently, I was asked to run a fiber optic line throughout a golf course with the irrigation mainline to connect the maintenance facility, clubhouse, pro shop, staff housing, tennis house, halfway house and beach house. It will allow the golf course to easily communicate with every facility on the property from any of the other locations.

Anytime you excavate any part of your golf course it is a big undertaking. It disrupts play, costs money and takes your staff away from other duties or at minimum requires you to supervise an outside contractor.

However, it also creates opportunity. Be proactive and think about what you might want to put in that hole or trench or “whatever” while it is open to save the club money and you aggravation down the road.

Brian Vinchesi, the 2015 Irrigation Association Industry Achievement Award winner, is President of Irrigation Consulting, Inc., a golf course irrigation design and consulting firm with offices in Pepperell, Massachusetts and Huntersville, North Carolina that designs golf course irrigation systems throughout the world. He can be reached at bvinchesi@irrigationconsulting.com or 978-433-8972 or followed on twitter @bvinchesi.