“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” is a proverb that is both literally and figuratively true for golf courses. But with ever-tightening budgets, sometimes it’s the mower with the bad bearings, not the one that’s just squeaking, that gets the grease. When money is tight, an irrigation pump that seems to be working fine is probably not going to get much attention. Unfortunately, there are serious problems that come with neglecting pumps until a catastrophic failure happens – with huge upfront costs and the risk of widespread turf damage being the two biggest potential concerns. The good news is that pump station failure is usually avoidable – or if not avoidable, at least failure can be forecasted.
Irrigation systems have lots of parts and the pumps may be the most neglected and most misunderstood components of them all. The pumps used in golf course irrigation stations, under normal conditions, can last for years if not decades. It is not unheard of for the pumps to outlast multiple superintendents. A common statement from superintendents is “That pump hasn’t been touched since I’ve been here,” which illustrates the room for improvement in pump maintenance.