Golf Course Maintenance Budgets

This is one example of how Managers or Boards consisting of doctors, lawyers, bankers and accountants are generally unprepared to knowledgeably deal with maintenance issues. But the “citizen boards” usually found operating private clubs do not have a corner on maintenance ignorance. Golf course owners and golf professionals managing courses are often just as naïve and accept a superintendent’s recommendations with very little question.

In many cases, the superintendent is honestly trying to do the best job his/her budget allows. However, a recent article had a superintendent talking about how much his membership appreciated the fact that he mowed his fairways daily. I just about fell over. His budget allowed him to mow everyday, but was it necessary? I wonder how many average golfers can tell when a fairway has been mowed everyday.

How about golf course striping? Most people love the way it looks, including the people who run the PGA Tour. While striping doesn’t really add to the mowing cost, it is pretty funny to hear all the talk about consistent lies in the fairway, when striping can actually provide different lies (with or against the grain) within three feet on the same fairway. I wonder if that same superintendent that mows fairways everyday also stripes them?

The real point of this article is not to ridicule the golf course superintendent, but to call attention to the fact that the actual supervision of golf course maintenance budgets is being neglected. What can be done to correct the situation?

1. Superintendents need to start asking some new questions – How can we become more efficient?
2. Equipment manufacturers need to get focused on creating more cost efficient machinery.
3. Owner/Managers and Boards need to get educated and demand better results.
4. The USGA and GCSAA need to refocus their cooperative efforts on providing increased maintenance efficiency education for golf course superintendents.
5. Maintenance Time Study Data needs to become an operating standard.

It would also be nice if the collective powers of golf – USGA, PGA of America, GCSAA and PGA Tour – would collectively decide to show golfers the importance of ball mark repair, divot replacement and pace of play. The most effective way to get that done would be to give those facets of the game some “network face time”. A better educated golfer would benefit maintenance budgets and provide better playing conditions for their fellow golfers.