Tom Barker stands by his old equipment. The aging units were replaced with new Bessam-Aire makeup air units.
LIVONIA, Mich. - Ever wonder how those giant, cocoon-shaped indoor golf domes defy gravity and temperature extremes to remain safe and comfortable? It's probably no surprise that a mechanical "blower" keeps the dome inflated - but that same blower also helps to heat and condition the air, too.

At least that's the scenario at the Oasis Golf Dome in Livonia, Mich. When the owners decided to replace the dome's aging equipment last year they turned to Guardian Environmental Services Inc. (GES) of Livonia to handle the installation.

GES project engineer Tom Barker met with The News and talked about the equipment and the role his company played in the installation.

The old equipment was at least 20 years old and required constant maintenance - eventually proving too costly for the dome owner. Two makeup air units support the dome and the owner decided to replace them one year apart.

The new equipment designed to pressurize the dome and keep it heated is manufactured by Bessam-Aire.
"This type of job is in the $40,000 to $50,000 range for each unit, depending on the necessity to replace steel frames, footprints, etc.," added Barker.

The new equipment designed to pressurize the dome and keep it heated is manufactured by Bessam-Aire ( They are direct-fired gas makeup air units, rated at 17,500 cfm with a 1.8 Btuh burner. The units vary the incoming air supply down to 20 percent of the unit capacity to meet variations in ventilation requirements. Each unit also recirculates up to 80 percent of the heat.

Barker explained the function of each unit. "The unit controls static pressure by bringing in the necessary amount of outside air," he said. "Filtration units for the outside and return air maintain proper indoor air quality; and each unit helps maintain a comfortable [65 degrees] temperature."

He added that Staefa DDC controls allow for remote operation of the Bessam-Aire units.

"In the past the biggest problem has been the lack of control of the indoor environment," said Barker. "Keeping the dome heated and inflated is a 24/7 operation. The new controls are Web-based so the owner can monitor the pressure."

The Oasis Golf dome is open seven days a week and boasts an average 65 degree F indoor temperature.
The last fact is significant since a catastrophic loss of pressure could deflate the dome within 30 minutes. Barker said that his service techs are available on a 24/7 basis in case of such an emergency.

Barker said that GES enjoys the challenge of working on unique projects like the golf dome. "We like to come up with the right installation for any type of application," he said.

Publication date: 12/29/2003