When Georgia’s spring rains (or fall rains, in today’s case) fall and the greens get soaked, turning on a SubAir system allows the club to hit back and remove the water and keep the course playable.
SubAir Systems, LLC is headquartered north of Augusta, Georgia, in Graniteville, South Carolina. The main product consists of a series of pumps and blowers that connect to the drainage system below the greens.
In order to function properly, the underground drainage system must be constructed as “USGA spec green”, with a main pipe running along the fall line of the green and a number of side pipes feeding into the green. The perforated pipes allow water to enter a discharge area or drain and flow downhill.
When activated, the SubAir system acts like a vacuum, drawing air and water into these pipes much faster. This video, created by SubAir in 2010, shows how quickly puddles can disappear.
If the SubAir system is used to draw a lot of water from the green, additional pumps and drainage mechanisms can be added to pull the water further away from the green and release it in areas outside the game.
When a SubAir system is switched to pressure mode, it forces air into the pipes and up, into the soil and root systems of the grass. This can help control the temperature of the greens without interrupting play.
When the pumps are running they make a dull, buzzing sound that is reminiscent of what you hear on an airplane when the engines are running.
The first green to have a SubAir system installed under it at Augusta National was the 13th green in 2001, but all 18 greens now have it.
Several other golf courses now also have a SubAir system, including Pebble Beach Golf Links, which will host the 2019 US Open.
The Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets recently had SubAir systems installed on their baseball fields, and the various professional and college football teams have SubAir systems on their practice and playing fields.
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