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Turk’s Irrigation Tips

By |  October 24, 2011

An irrigation professional of 25 years shares his most valuable tips for maintaining problem-free irrigation systems.

Joe Turk owns and operates Turf Assist, which services golf course irrigation systems in San Diego, Palm Springs, Riverside and the Orange County area of California. He first started working on irrigation systems when he was only 17, and now, 25 years later, he finds himself busier than ever trouble-shooting systems on golf courses.

“I don’t like making people feel bad when they mess up their systems,” Turk says. “So I try to tell them, ‘Hey, instead of doing this, next time, do this.'”

Turk says that the customers who do the below tips regularly are some of his worst customers, because he never has to visit their courses.

“The guys who do this, they have it going on,” Turk says. “I never hear from them. That’s fine with me, I’m impressed.”

Back up your irrigation database

When was the last time you backed up your database? Stop reading and do it right now, you might thank me later. Guys get busy and they think their computers will take care of them. Then, the computer crashes and guess what — the last backup was six months ago. The computer can’t help you unless you back up often.

Just like Santa, make a list and check it twice

Perform an entire irrigation system check at a minimum of once a year, but preferably twice a year. Make a to-do list as you go. Observe sprinkler heads for problems — are there any heads broken, or not turning, or tilted? Keep a list that notes areas that have reoccurring problems.

Keep timers clean and pest-free

Go through your timers at least once a year, and use canned air or a soft brush to get out the spider webs and bugs. I’m not a chemical guy, so I won’t recommend any, but you should have something in place to keep rodents and insects out of there.

When manually watering, use the actual functions of the timers — not the manual switches

Some guys might not know how to use the timers, so they’ll use the manual switches. So they’ll open up the box and turn on the irrigation and walk away. But if they aren’t aware of where the head right behind them is pointing? It soaks the open box. That’s an expensive repair right there.

Not too many, but not too few

Some superintendents don’t trust the crew with the operation of the irrigation controls. Fine. But someone else on the property — even if it’s someone up in the pro shop — needs to know how to operate the system in case the superintendent can’t get to the course that day.

Likewise, if a superintendent is too trusting, and lets everyone operate the irrigation control box, that can be a problem. Like the saying goes, you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen.

If you have any questions for Turk, he can be reached at or via his website at

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