Choosing a consultant for your golf course maintenance, a case study.
This article relates the experience of a private country club member’s impression of his clubs selection process for a course maintenance consultant. The club has on its staff a certified golf course superintendent, with over 10 years experience. Membership at the club consists of 400 equity members. The course operates year round in the Southern California climate. The golf course was designed at the turn of the century when mechanized maintenance equipment was just being introduced. Many upgrades to the property occurred over the years to bring the club up to the best standard in the area. Several tournament qualifying events are hosted at the course, however the club is not suited or inclined to host a professional event.
The desired condition of the golf course by the membership is that of a championship club. This presents the problem for the maintenance staff in satisfying all the members’ expectations. Many of the members judge the quality of a course by differing standards. The facility has a new irrigation system tees through the greens. Modern turf grasses have been installed in the fairways and green surroundings. Rest time for maintenance is limited to just three weeks in the late fall for over seeding of the rough areas incorporating cool season grasses. The fairways are not over seeded and remain dormant in the winter season. This dormant condition is one issue of concern to the majority of the membership. More accomplished players seem to appreciate the playing surface in its dormant condition. Poorer players are often are more concerned with the color and appearance of the turf than its health or playability.
Where did the maintenance consultant appear? Costs of operating a high caliber golf course are high and ever rising. The southern California climate exacerbates the problem with its water shortage and cost issues. The battle between the green committee and the superintend is a constant one. Searching for a solution is often found in an attractive offer to outsource the entire program. This means dismissing or transferring the staff to the management company. This was not attractive to the membership in general who have come to know and care for the staff of many years. The choice of maintaining the staff and the supernatant working under the direction of the outside consultant was chosen. It remains to be seen if such an arrangement can meet the stated objectives of a superior golf course in appearance, and playability for more days of the year at a lower cost. This is the first year of the experiment; we will see how it works out.