In the trenches: Carlos Duran on installing drip irrigation at Shadow Creek

By |  March 14, 2017 0 Comments

While visiting Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, it was Superintendent Tim Cloninger who gave us the tour of the course and showed us the intricacies of the drip irrigation system detailed in our February cover story. But Cloninger was clear: he wasn’t the one who did the lion’s share of the work, but his crew. The person in charge of installing the drip irrigation system was Carlos Duran, lead irrigation tech.

Duran has been with Shadow Creek since 1995, starting out as a landscaper on the crew. In ’98 he was promoted to irrigation tech, and in 2005 he was promoted to his current position. He calls the irrigation system “his baby” and has enjoyed the many changes and updates Cloninger has brought to the system since he took the reins as superintendent in 2011.

But the work it took installing the drip irrigation system? Enjoyment was not a part of that project.

“It wasn’t easy — there was a lot of manual labor because of the hills, so there was a lot of hand-digging trenches,” Duran says. “We used a small trencher. The labor and digging (was the hardest part.) No. 5 was really bad because of all the hills. As matter of fact, we flipped the trencher while working on that hole, that’s how bad that one was.”

There was no set timeframe to get the job complete, but Duran was able to keep a crew of two to five working on the project regularly. Duran says that despite the difficult nature of the work, it actually went by faster than he thought it would.

“At the beginning it was kind of frustrating because we were trying to figure out how to do it, but after we figured that out it was pretty easy. When we first started out we didn’t think it was going to go that quick. It was hard to get the project started because we tested different strategies out and we ended up making a few changes from the original plan,” Duran says. “Once we got going we just kept going. It was amazing how quickly we were getting it done.”

Now that the drip irrigation project is complete, Duran is looking into areas where they can expand irrigation into native areas. He says that project will save the course more water.

Duran says that Cloninger is “a great guy to work with,” and that his background in Geographic Information Science (GIS) made for some fun — but challenging — adjustments.

“Tim would give me GPS map with areas that were ‘low watering’ and I would have to input all of those directions into the (irrigation) program,” Duran says. “Going through it all was a challenge, but it was fun too. It took a little bit but it was worth the time investment because it’s working.”

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About the Author: Seth Jones

Seth Jones, a 25-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association. Jones can be reached at

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