Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, OK was faced with the challenge of maintaining soil temperatures for its new Cool Season Bank grass between 65°F and 80°F degrees throughout the year. With the help of RAE Corporation and the Technical Systems team, along with SWEP BPHEs, a system was designed that will prevent the club’s 18 greens from dying in harsh temperatures.
Southern Hill’s Country Club (SHCC) is a member owned course in Tulsa, Oklahoma that has been the location for the PGA Championship 4 times, with the fifth to come in 2022. This 300-acre course not only has the space and reputation to hold championships, but the prestigious look that is required as well. Now a very noticeable part of that look can be seen 365 days a year. Year round at SHCC, you will see bright healthy greens on all 24 greens and practice surfaces. Creeping Bentgrass is the number one choice of top courses for the best-looking greens. Bentgrass greens are kept at their best in soil temps of around 78°F, but soil temps in Oklahoma from July to August can reach up to 90°F+. When a difference of 5° can be detrimental to maintaining soil, temperature control is crucial.
Technical Systems (TSI), a division of RAE Corporation that manufactures custom chillers and heat pumps took on this project. TSI proposed custom air to water heat pumps which means it only takes one piece of equipment to heat and cool the greens.
Air to water heat pump installed on the grounds
The initial design called for six heat pumps. However, the final number of heat pumps was reduced to just four: a 110-ton, 123-ton, 133-ton, and 200-ton. This was beneficial as the fewer units on the grounds at the course is less of a distraction and therefore doesn’t affect the golfing experience for the players. Now with all four heat pumps feeding close to 38 miles of tubing across the entire course, the greens stay their desired vibrant color year-round.
To keep temperatures regulated, each green is heated or cooled by a series of pipes that are looped beneath the surface. TSI’s Air to Water heat pump has in integrated variable flow pump package to provide flow to each green. The pumps are in an insulated and weatherproof cabinet complete with a SWEP brazed plate heat exchanger (BPHE) and necessary control valves. Each unit contains low noise, electronically commutated, permanent magnet motor fans, and acoustically wrapped scroll compressors. These EC fans offer variable speed control to maintain the highest efficiency at varying loads and temperatures. The equipment has multiple compressors with independent refrigeration circuits that turn on or off depending on the required load. Each circuit contains a refrigerant reversing valve to change the unit from heating to cooling mode. When the unit is placed in the heating mode it is over 300% more efficient compared to a gas boiler which is approximately 97% efficient. To quantify when temperatures reach 35°F or lower, each kilowatt used to operate the compressors will produce more than three kilowatts of heat to the greens.
SWEP BPHEs were the heat transfer solutions chosen for this job, mainly because some of the heat pump’s locations on the course are quite a distance from the greens that they are heating/cooling which can affect pressure drops in the system if the right heat exchanger solution is not chosen. AsyMatrix® is SWEP's innovative asymmetric plate design technology for BPHEs. The asymmetric channel configuration smartly combines maximum heat transfer on the refrigerant side with minimum pressure drop on the secondary side. The increased energy efficiency and better use of the structural material compared with conventional heat exchanger technologies delivers a more sustainable solution in suitable applications. The lower pressure drops accomplished by the Asymmetrical design of the SWEP DVD300 model allowed for the higher flow rates needed at the heat pumps to feed the greens that are located across the course. Both the DV300 and DP400 models were ideal for the constant changes in capacity required to maintain soil temperature and provided a successful pairing of evaporators and condensers. A total of (7) SWEP BPHEs were installed on this job and performance has exceeded expectations.
SWEP DV300 SWEP DP400
Heat exchangers are key components in heat pump systems, where they influence the system’s performance, stability, refrigerant charge, and overall size. SWEP BPHEs can fulfill several functions in heat pump applications including evaporators and condensers like in this case. SWEP offers a wide range of condensers that provide excellent performance and flexibility for the highest efficiencies. Decreased refrigerant charge, footprint, and pressure drop thanks to their unique asymmetry and pressing depth are also advantages that SWEP BPHEs offer when used as condensers. SWEP’s range of evaporators with optimized distribution devices cover variable and fixed speed compressors and help meet the highest demands with less use of refrigerants and a smaller footprint.
About RAE Corporation
RAE Corporation, located in Pryor, Oklahoma, has been family owned and operated for the entire existence of the company. RAE Corporation specializes in the design and production of engineered heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems. The company employs almost 400 people with all equipment proudly Made in the USA. RAE Corp manufactures products in five divisions: Technical Systems, Century Refrigeration, Refrigeration Systems, RAE Coils and ZeroCool Systems. For over 50 years, RAE has maintained a founding commitment to their customers and community with a vision to Make Great Happen.