CLAY COUNTY — Because of bond funding approved by commissioners last year, Paradise Pointe Golf Complex at Smithville Lake is undergoing a irrigation system upgrade that includes adding miles of pipe and wire, more than 500 new sprinklers, hundreds of isolation valves and more than 100 quick couplers.

While work is underway, neither the Posse nor Outlaw courses are being closed. A county release states no more than four holes will be impacted at a time throughout construction.

“This is a massive project that is going to make a huge difference to our facilities at the courses,” Assistant County Administrator for Facilities Brad Garrett said of the aging facilities that have been in use with the original system for a total of more than 30 years . “... For years we’ve had issues with the irrigation system. It was really old and out of date. We are working to replace it with something that is state-of-the-art.”

Work began in May and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The current irrigation system includes 1,497 sprinklers averaging 37 sprinklers per hole with two rows of sprinklers running the length of the fairway, which means there is a single row to cover the tees and four to five sprinklers covering the greens. The new system has 2,094 sprinklers averaging 52 sprinklers per hole in three rows running from tee to green.

“This allows us to irrigate more of the golf course including the rough. The current system is set up in blocks of five or six sprinklers that run at the same time, they all turn on and off together. The advantage to the block system is it was cost effective to install. The disadvantage is the superintendent has limited control of how the course gets watered. Inevitably at least one sprinkler in the block will be in a dry area and at least one sprinkler in the block will be in a wet area,” states a county release on the project.

With the new system, Garrett said maintenance crews will be better able to isolate areas that need repairs in the event of leak.

“We’ve had ongoing issues with leaks due to deferred maintenance and the fact that pipes were very old. Leaks are insanely common out here,” he told the Courier-Tribune during a tour of ongoing irrigation work at the golf complex this summer.

“With only 48 isolation valves on the current system, the staff is forced to turn the water off to three or four holes at a time to repair a single minor leak. During the heat of summer, we cannot afford to turn off the water to multiple greens while we fix leaks. Small leaks remained for several weeks, creating large wet areas in the rough, fairways or even tees,” states the county release.

The new system will have 418 isolation valves, giving staff the ability to turn off only a few sprinklers at a time to repair leaks.

“This will speed up the response time when we notice leaks,” states the county release.

In addition to added sprinklers, updated work includes installation of 117 quick couplers.

“The current system has a total of 44 quick couplers to attach hoses. As a result of limited quick couplers, there are areas not accessible with hoses and it is common to see a hose stretched across a green while golfers approached,” states the county release. “The new system will have 161 quick couplers including one on each side of every green. This will allow the superintendent to water nearly any area on the property with a hose as needed and avoid dragging hoses across the green during play.”

Irrigation upgrades are also being conducted in an isolated way that zebra mussels, a common nuisance at county facilities, will not be able to infiltrate to the new system as they have been an ongoing issue with parts of the old system, Garrett said.

In addition to an updated irrigation system, Garrett said the county purchased added equipment for course improvements. The county is also working to convert current grasses used on the golf courses to Zoysia sod, which is more resistant to dying and browning in hot Missouri summers and has internal protection from cold winters.

According to PGA Tour experts, Zoysia is preferred by players because of superior lies and improved ball striking due to blade density.

Garrett said the sod upgrade is equivalent to moving from the Stone Age to the modern age.

Managing Editor Amanda Lubinski can be reached at or 903-6001.

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