City plans irrigation project at Ben Hawes Golf Course

Oct. 22—The City of Owensboro is planning a $1.8 million replacement of the Ben Hawes Golf Course irrigation system, with hopes that work will be complete by spring 2023.

The deadline for contractors to send proposals to the city was last week, and city officials are considering two offers.

The city’s project listings indicate that a golf course irrigation consultant has already prepared the design specifications for the project.

City parks director Amanda Rogers said the newest parts of the existing irrigation system are over 20 years old. Storm damage also shortened the life of the existing system, Rogers said.

“This is a replacement for our existing system which has hardware dating back to 2000 and pipe dating back to the mid-1980s,” Rogers wrote in an email. “We had hoped to keep the existing system for a few more years as part of our replacement plan, but a lightning strike last fall pushed the schedule back by destroying our control board.”

Replacement parts for the control system are no longer on the market, Rogers said.

“We had a backup board, but it doesn’t work properly all the time, and given the age of the existing system, there are no more parts available,” she said. “It’s like trying to find parts for a computer from 1999, they don’t exist anymore because technology has changed so much in 20 years.”

The system will cover 200 acres, including 18- and nine-hole golf courses, the practice green, driving range and other areas, Rogers said.

The summer weather was tough on the course and irrigation was difficult, she said.

Conditions on the golf course “drive play and revenue,” Rogers said. “Kentucky is in the transition zone, so we end up with cool weather grasses and hot weather grasses, and neither like the extreme temperatures. Our biggest challenge during the season – especially this past summer with all the heat – is to keep our putting surfaces green and playable.

“We’ve had to do a lot of hand watering for our greens to keep them playable in the heat. We currently have 30 greens on site, and it’s very labor intensive without an irrigation system that our superintendent of greens and his assistant have logged quite a few 12 hour days to keep the course playable.”

When asked if the work would be complete by the summer of next year, Rogers said: “Really, with the supply chain issues, we’re looking at fall 2023. It also has to be timed so as not to disrupt the game, given how busy we are during peak hours.”

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