We have a running joke at the golf course I work at about the old as-built maps for drainage and irrigation we have lying around. We call them the “as-intendedbuilts” — meaning, they aren’t always so accurate.

It isn’t unusual during the construction process for there to be sudden and drastic changes to the original drawings and plans. In fact, it’s probably the norm. Changes occur for many reasons. Redirections, eliminations and additions all take place. No project ever goes according to plan.

Usually a good record is kept of these changes. New maps are created after the original blueprints as things are revised. These are your precious as-builts.

As-builts are, by definition, a revised set of drawings submitted by a contractor upon completion. They should reflect all changes made to the project. They should be actuals.

Sometimes, however, shortcuts are made. Contractors cut corners or run out of time. Sometimes contractors don’t finish projects. Owners may step in to save a few bucks and finish construction in-house. The problem with this is that the as-builts don’t always get updated.

This is fine for a few years, when everybody remembers everything. In those first few years after a golf course opens there are likely to be folks around who contributed to this or that alteration or remember seeing it. Often, the new turf itself indicates the drain lines beneath.

But, as time passes, things change. People move on. Ten years pass, then 20, then 30. Now no one that had a hand in construction is around anymore. No one remembers where the sixth green drains, or if that new tee on number 17 is part of the tee irrigation loop or was tied into a main line.

This is when the as-builts are usually consulted. But if those as-builts aren’t really asbuilts, what can you do?

The answer is often, unfortunately, a lot of exploration. Getting the old trencher out to find a drain or irrigation line.

Although we can’t go back in time and create as-builts at the end of the construction phase, there is something that can be done to ease our trouble a bit, at least for the future.

Making your own as-builts as you discover those underground treasures is a way to be somewhat proactive with this dilemma.

At our course, the so-called as-builts are usually about 50 percent accurate. Some stages of the project were better updated than others. We discovered that the accuracy at the end of the project was much less documented than at the beginning, which, of course, makes sense.

What we have done over the last several years (or, more specifically, what my assistant has painstakingly done) is revise the as-builts.

He took two large maps of the course, one for irrigation and one for drainage, and penciled in any and all changes we are aware of. Many of these changes we’ve made ourselves. Thousands and thousands of feet of drainage have been added to the course over the last dozen or so years. We’ve documented all of that. In addition, whenever we discover irrigation or drainage pipes where they aren’t supposed to be, we document that as well.

Although any system you want to use will probably work, we’ve decided on a red pen for drainage additions that we make, a blue pen for irrigation add-ons, and a pencil to draw in any original stuff we find in the wrong place.

In essence, we’ve made our own as-builts.

I’m sure many golf courses have better as-builts than we do. But I bet we’re not the only course out there with this problem. In fact, it’s probably a safe bet that some older courses have operated for many years without any original drawings.

Whatever your situation, all you can do is make the best of it, and maybe, with a couple of pens and a pencil, make things a little easier on that superintendent who will have your job 20 or 30 years from now.

Heck, that might even be you.