Wednesday, July 29, 2009


By Michael D. Vogt, CGCS

Poorly planned Turf Care Center

There are three basic components that make up the design of clubs that have associated golf courses as part of their member offerings: the golf course routing plan, the clubhouse location, and the golf course maintenance facility. However, in all too many cases, the golf course Turf Care Center is not given sufficient consideration in the professional planning and design process. The result of this has caused most maintenance facilities to be poorly located, poorly constructed, and too small to provide adequate space for the myriad of operations that take place within this important structure.

Over the past twenty five years, the technology of the golf turf industry has advanced far beyond the most liberal expectations. The developments of improved turf grass varieties, environmentally friendly insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers, irrigation technology, and design improvements in highly technical turf maintenance equipment have changed the profile of the Turf Care Center. However, the most important advancement has been in the quality level of the golf course superintendent and the supporting golf maintenance staff.

Although the science of design has been applied to create new innovations in machines and equipment, it has not been applied to the design of the support facilities and structures in which these machines are stored, maintained, and in which a multitude of daily activities occur.

Those in the golf course industry commonly recognize that the equipment and some operation activities need to be protected from the weather. For hundreds of years, farmers have used barns to serve this purpose. Since barns have served the agriculture community so well, some believe it is logical that the activities and equipment used to maintain a golf course should also be stored in barns. All they have to do is to add a small room for the telephone, a restroom, and a few items needed by the golf course superintendent. This thinking reveals an obvious lack of consideration for the expensive, high tech equipment (rolling inventories often costing more than $1,000.000) and a lack of understanding about the activities that are required to maintain a top golf course today.

The need for an enclosed, multipurpose structure goes well beyond protection from the weather. The equipment and golf course maintenance activities require a specially designed facility. A golf course Turf Care Center is a special purpose place. The structure is not going to change its use in the future. It will serve the golf course operations as long as there remains a golf course at the club.

Master Plan for a modern Turf Care Center

The operation activities cannot be properly and safely conducted in an old barn or in a contractor's generically designed metal building. To do so is to inflict a serious punishment on the overall golf operations. It contributes to the depreciation of the equipment, impairs the control of activities, wastes man-hours, and, most critical of all, demeans the status of the work place. The sum of these circumstances is directly reflected in a higher operating cost and often, poorer golf course conditions.

Early in the development of the industrial revolution, the resolution was reached that the application of the science of design in the planning of structures made an important contribution to the financial success of commerce and industry. Likewise, a comprehensive study of golf course operations has resulted in the establishment of minimum standards for the special spaces required for the administration, staff facilities, maintenance shop, equipment parking, and other activities necessary for properly maintaining a golf course. These minimum standards serve as a guide for the design and planning of a new Turf Care Center or the renovation of an existing facility.

Five Basic Elements
There are five basic elements that make up the design of a golf course maintenance facility:

1. Location of the Site
The location of the facility in relation to the golf course and outside services is critical to the efficiency of the operation. A facility buried deep within the golf course causes a number of serious problems. The same consideration should be given when selecting the location of the golf maintenance facility as was given when selecting the clubhouse location and course routing.

2. Traffic Flow
The traffic flow of equipment generated by daily maintenance can be a distraction and cause members to view the golf course operation in a negative light. Traffic flow across adjacent golf holes is not only a distraction, but it can be a serious safety hazard. Poorly located maintenance facilities can double the traffic flow and contribute to an increased operation cost.

3. Location of Special Areas
The special areas are those activities that are necessary to the golf course operation that require special planning and special supporting structures (gasoline tanks, equipment wash areas, pesticide structures, etc.).

4. Space Planning
The space planning process is divided into two types: exterior and interior spaces. The professional planning of these spaces is critical to the efficient and safe operation of the facility. When untrained personnel undertake this process, the results are usually quite costly.

5. Future Planning
When considering the future planning of the course facilities, we envision potential changes for the maintenance shop such as the enlargement of the site for the in house growing of ornamental plants and nursery stock. We also envision the need for new structures to support the new technology in the composting and recycling of waste materials.

The benefits of a professionally planned and designed golf course are well recognized. Just as important is the golf course Turf Care Center that protects the multi-million dollar golf course investment. Legal, environmental, safety, equipment, chemical, and staff issues are all affected by the design and location of the golf maintenance facility.

Michael Vogt, CGCS is a consultant for McMahon Group. He can be contacted at 800-365-2498 or .

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