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Rockbridge Club, Inc.


According to the International Tennis Federation’s lighting guidelines, the objective when lighting a tennis court is to ensure good visibility enabling both participants and spectators to follow the progress of a game. The ball, regardless of its location and speed, should always be clearly visible. Creating good visibility requires sufficient contrast to be created between objects and their backgrounds, good illumination levels and even distribution of light – uniformity – across the playing surface.

Rockbridge Club, Inc – Columbia, South Carolina

Founded in 1964, Rockbridge Club is a private tennis, swim and social club located in the heart of Forest Acres. Members enjoy year-round competitive and recreational tennis at a USTA Southern Section Outstanding Facility featuring five Har-Tru clay and five hard courts.

The tennis courts were lit with outdated metal halide (MH) lights that were always burning out and needing service calls. Because of the time and expense to service the fixtures, lights were often out for a month at a time. This was problematic because players can’t see the ball when playing at night if the lights are burned out. Additionally, as MH lights age, they experience color shift, which along with a 40 percent drop in initial light output at half-life, degrades the light quality.

“If a set of lights were accidentally turned off on a court it would take 25 minutes for the lights to warm up to full brightness,” said Sam Holland, Rockbridge Club’s longest continuing member for 55 years. “Being in the middle of a match and having the lights inadvertently go off and then waiting so long to play again was very frustrating,” Holland continued.

Rockbridge Club President Chris Younts knew these lights needed upgrading. After sending out an RFP and receiving proposals from across the country, the board selected Optec LED Lighting (Optec) for a solution to meet Rockbridge’s goal of improving the lighting quality and reducing energy costs.

Rockbridge turned to Optec to leverage their outdoor LED lighting capabilities and the products’ excellent optical performance. Optec proposed upgrading the existing MH fixtures with OLA1 area luminaires, which will provide 5000K and dramatically improve the brightness and uniformity on each court.

Once the board saw Optec’s lighting technology, before-and-after pictures of other installations, and reviewed a lighting layout they knew the OLA1 would be perfect for the tennis courts’ lighting upgrade.

In a one-for-one replacement, 70 1000W MH fixtures were upgraded with 300W OLA1 LED luminaires using existing 22’ poles.

Optec’s OLA1 design and engineering made it incredibly easy to install. The installation contractor only needed a scissors lift and within three days all of the old fixtures were upgraded.

While the primary objective of the project was to improve the lighting clarity and uniformity, Rockbridge will also benefit from a 75 percent energy savings, a $.35/watt incentive from Dominion Energy, and reduced maintenance from not having to replace the LED luminaires for approximately 10 years. These Optec luminaires are also coupled with a 10-year power supply that has a 10-year warranty.

“The club wanted to upgrade the lights for over four years, however, once we saw another local installation using Optec’s LED luminaires, the board knew it was time to move forward with this project,” said Chris Yonte, Rockbridge Club president.

The lighting is so uniform and bright that other area clubs have asked to hold matches at Rockbridge.