SubAir Systems Work Their Magic

It’s late spring, the rainy season, and the weather forecast for the start of your club championship is troubling, to say the least. A massive storm system, barreling up from the Gulf, is spawning supercells. Wicked weather is imminent. Possible tornadoes, hail, intense lighting, and torrential downpours are in the forecast for both rounds. As for the greens at your club? No doubt management is on pins and needles regarding their ability to weather the storms.

Of course, considering all 18 putting greens are equipped with SubAir Systems, not much sleep is likely to be lost. In fact, thanks to the installation of these amazing subsurface moisture management systems, heavy rain is probably the least of their concerns.

As it turns out, your club championship goes off without any major issues. Thanks to a ridiculous smother-hook seven-iron out of the trees on the first playoff hole, Scooter McGavin wins it for the fifth year in a row. Yes, the storms came, heavy winds blasted the course, the thunder roared, and nearly five inches of rain pelted down. But the greens, to no one’s surprise, held up incredibly well. The SubAir Systems performed their magic.

And, if you’ve seen the incredible videos of massive puddles on putting surfaces basically disappearing in seconds, “magic” is hardly overstating the performance of these underground, out-of-sight systems.

SubAir Systems have been a game-changer for dozens of courses around the world that have installed them. Managing turf temperatures and moisture levels in the greens – both during intense deluges and prolonged droughts – is simply a matter of flicking a switch. Lengthy disruptions due to soggy, unplayable greens are mitigated with these state-of-the-art systems. SubAir drains excessive moisture 36 times faster than natural gravity drainage. It also increases turf recovery 50% faster from high play volume.

SubAir connects to the USGA grid-like pipe network beneath the green’s playing surface. The central vault unit controls the vacuum and pressure operation. It can be one of the most powerful and effective tools superintendents can use to protect and enhance the most important turf on their course. By moderating seasonal temperature extremes in the root zone, the SubAir System also extends the growing season and provides a more consistent surface throughout the playing season.

The control hub, which is housed in an irrigation satellite, is the only visible component of the below-ground system. It is typically situated on a high point near the green. Provided the green is already constructed with USGA drainage specifications, installation typically only takes one day per green. And minimal disruption of play will occur. Although costs will vary depending on the size of the green, the specific unit installed, and infrastructure necessary (power must be available), a typical installation runs between $14,000 to $18,000 per system/green.

The SubAir System vault has two important modes. First and perhaps foremost, there is a pressure mode, which, essentially, delivers oxygen and moderates the temperature and health of the root profile. Secondly, there is the vacuum setting for sucking excess water through the soil profile into the pipes. The excess water is then pumped into a collection area (a lake, pond, etc.). Strong, healthy, and consistent turf is the by-product of both modes.

Do all eighteen greens on your course need a SubAir system? It depends! Possibly not. While every green on a course will see benefits from the system, some facilities may have only a couple of ‘problem’ greens that are of paramount concern. Superintendents are fully aware of which of their greens are most susceptible to heat stress, compaction, pooling water, and so on. So you don’t necessarily need to do a full installation. Some courses start with one or two systems and progress from there depending on needs, their budget, and so on.”

Those clients – which include Pebble Beach, Quail Hollow, East Lake, Colonial, Wentworth, and Adare Manor, to name just a few – are fully aware of what’s at stake when the weather turns wild and Mother Nature starts irrigating…like there’s no tomorrow.

“A lot of times we’ll get an intense storm in the afternoon and it will dump an inch or two of rain,” says Mike Guiffre, Superintendent at Congressional Country Club. “We’ll have puddles on the greens but they’ll want to get back out there as quick as they can. By turning on that vacuum system we can re-start play almost immediately and they won’t damage the greens by walking through spongy, wet areas.”

Obviously, when it’s raining cats and dogs, a golf course’s true colors will show pretty quick. How long will the recovery take? When will the course re-open for play? Thankfully, with a SubAir System, a “magical” disappearing act can do wonders in terms of answering those questions.

For more information about how SubAir can help you, go to at or call at (866)641-6663

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