Tuesday, December 18, 2012

TO ALL READERS, MERRY CHRISTMAS!



I am in the business of golf; specifically helping superintendents work as well as they can under some of the most critical of situations. I share my information with all - on these blog pages, and I welcome any questions or comments by phone or email (the button on the right for email).



If there is a question or comment you wish to send me, please feel free, no cost, no obligation, no sales pitch. I will once again be presenting a half day seminar on Turf Care Center Planning and Programming at the 2013 GCSAA Education Conference and Golf Industry Show in San Diego, February 4th from 1:00 pm – 5:30 pm. If you have the opportunity I would welcome any contact during week at the conference with specific ideas, comments or questions.

All my best for a great holiday season,

Mike

Monday, October 22, 2012

One of Three Beauties

Last week I found myself on a little spring fed stream in southwest Missouri at daylight. I found three rainbow trout, introduced myself, and sent them back to the cold pure water.


It can't aways be about the grass!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How's Your Business?



For years there have been many shots in the dark on how to craft the best business plan for golf course maintenance operations. The only way to get to the bottom of the deep, dark, murky mess of how much do we do and how much will it cost is very simple:

Craft a basic survey and have your players spend some time filling out the questions, ask what they want in terms of improvements, satisfaction and importance.



Surveys can help define direction of your business-it's simple!

From these comments, as scary as they may be, draft a standard of maintenance. This document should include heights of cut and all routine maintenance that affects conditioning and playability. Don't forget to budget projects and improvements based on the comments, in the example above fairways would be an area to focus on.

Figure what all of this costs based on the standards of maintenance and labor that’s required, that will be your budget. Present these documents to the decision makers. The proof this system works is dramatic in terms of increased play and player satisfaction.

• Survey

• Standards of Maintenance

• Budget

I find it very troubling that so many golf businesses operate without a sound business plan. Once these basic truisms of business are applied to the golf maintenance operation it’s just amazing how well the golf course can be improved, and player satisfaction can be increased.

If your in the golf business and what to know more-click the "email Mike" button to the right.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Congress finally gets something right!


Golfing legend Arnold Palmer became just the sixth athlete to receive the Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony in his honor Wednesday in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

"Arnold Palmer was the everyday man's hero," Nicklaus said. "From the modest upbringing, Arnold embodied the hard-working strength of America ... The game has given so much to Arnold Palmer but he has given back so much more."

The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- which Palmer received in 2004 -- are the highest civilian awards in the United States. The Congressional Gold Medal dates back to the American Revolution. Each medal is created by the U.S. Mint individually to honor the individual and achievements for which the medal is awarded.


"I'm particularly proud of anything the House and the Senate agree on," Palmer joked.

Of the more than 200 people who have received the Congressional Gold Medal, the other athletes include: baseball's Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson, track and field's Jesse Owens, boxing's Joe Louis and another golf legend, Byron Nelson.

Noting that two of those six were golfers, Palmer said, "I like to think and truly believe golf and golfers promote human values."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chemical Storage and Mix/Load Facilities, What are Your Options?

By Michael D. Vogt, CGCS, CGIA

There are several options that we recommend when building a new facility or renovating an older chemical storage area.

• Have a containment area where the chemicals are stored, a curb of concrete around the base of the room or building. A water tight seal should be incorporated in the concrete placement at all concrete control, expansion and construction joints; the rubberized, PVC or neoprene seals at the concrete joints are known as water stops. After concrete cures a concrete sealer and elastomeric joint filler should be applied.

• Be sure to install a controlled temperature system and adequate ventilation system. Many chemicals need to be protected from freezing as well as extreme high temperatures. We normally recommend storing chemicals in the temperature range of 40°F to 90°F, with low humidity.

• A building away from the main drainage of water and surface water is always recommended. Most all of our plans have the chemical storage and mix and load building separate from any other structure by at least 200 feet, 400 is best.

• The most desirable construction materials for walls are concrete masonry units and placed concrete. These materials are durable and if treated with sealers are resistant to the absorption of chemicals.

• A floor sump system should be considered to retain, reuse or dispose of chemical rinsates and unintended releases in storage areas.

• Dry and liquids should be stored away from each other; most of our plans have two separate rooms to keep these two types away from each other. And within these rooms herbicides, insecticides and fungicides should be segregated as well.

Poorly stored chemicals with no
rhyme or reason

• All shelving should be made of a non-absorbing material, commercial grade kitchen chrome plated round stock steel shelving works best.


We normally design storage and mix and load facilities in the same building. The reasoning is:

• Security; everything that encompasses storage and application of chemicals is under one roof.

• Safety; the chemical concentrate products are in an area that they will be mixed to dilution. Ventilation is already installed, the building designed to be large enough to clean, maintain and store sprayers and chemicals.

• Safety; if an uncontrolled release occurred; the clean-up site is removed from other working areas and buildings. If a fire was to involve the chemical building a separate type of protocol is required from fire fighters.

• The storage of chemicals and filling of equipment to prepare sprays is very controlled, water source is backflow protected, spills are contained, ventilation is good, chemicals are in close proximity, sprayers can calibrated, cleaned, maintained and stored in the chemical building away from all other golf course maintenance functions.

These are some of the latest greatest products out there for chemical storage, and how they ensuring more safety and compliance than ever before

I believe that when superintendents consider the storage and application of chemicals they should try to segregate as much of the process from the rest of the operation as possible. By storing all things related to chemical application in a separate area it’s much safer and the superintendent is in a position to be able to control all of the moving parts of the chemical application process.

The many golf course maintenance facilities I have seen over the years all too often have chemicals, fertilizers, shovels, equipment and coffee makers all stored under the same roof. This is no fault to the superintendent; it was not until recently a maintenance facility was considered a steel “building-in-a-box” with a concrete floor and several rooms in one end of the building. These cheap metal buildings soon began rusting and getting dented by machinery and subsequently after ten years the building was starting to fall apart and busting at the seams with every maintenance item in one big lump under a metal roof. The biggest reason these metal building become popular in the 60s through the 80s is they where a giant step up from the “old barn” and cheap at less than $15 per square foot in many cases.

Considering the fact that most maintenance facilities should last fifty years or more, industrial architecture is being used to plan and program buildings to specifically fit the needs of golf course maintenance rather than a steel building; being configured to make-due for a cheap maintenance facility.

As for products supplied to the superintendent for chemical dispersal; the best single item is the chemical manufactures selling their products in large format packages, like LinksPaks™. This packaging makes it easy to safely store large quantities of product. The empties are easily recycled, and ten gallon quantities are slightly cheaper than small format packages.

Standard operating procedures when it comes to storing chemicals

These are the several of the best management practices when considering common sense storage of turf care chemicals:

• Ideally, store liquids away from dry chemicals, if that’s not possible, store liquids below dry chemicals

• Have some type of containment; even cheap plastic bins can be used to store chemicals on the shelves.

• Make every effort to keep chemical packages dry and in their original containers with a legible label.

• Look for old chemicals and get rid of them! I can’t tell you how many superintendents have old chemicals stashed in the dark corners of the building. Many municipalities have programs to dispose of these products.


Get the old chemicals out of your storage facility

• Get rid of the wood shelves, the wood can become contaminated with chemical overtime; toxic waste.

• Be vigilant and keep chemicals locked when not using the specific storage area.

• Have a ventilation system in chemical storage areas.

• Have an emergency plan in place in case of fire, flood or uncontrolled release of chemicals and be sure to educate all employees on that plan.

• Keep a separate file or a three ring binder of labels that you have or have used in a separate place for reference.

• Keep personal protection devices (PPE) away from chemical storage areas (goggles, safety glasses, respirators, dust masks, gloves, face shields, ear protection, etc.)

• Install good lighting in chemical storage areas.



For more information on tips and ideas to incorporate into your chemical storage areas and mix load facilities contact me any time at the button to the right.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Technicians, Assistants and Superintendents, Keep Grinding


By Michael Vogt, CGCS


HELP WANTED:

Experienced Turf Equipment Technician for local golf course

Must possess advanced knowledge of:
• Gasoline engines of all sizes
• Diesel engines of all sizes
• Highly complex hydraulic circuits
• Computer operated switching and controls
• The game of golf
• Recordkeeping
• Safety in the workplace
• Theory and application of reel mower grinding

Under the direction supervision of the golf course superintendent the incumbent will be asked to read the mind of co-workers on a daily basis and respond the all equipment needs no sooner than yesterday. In addition to the requisite skills listed above the successful candidates will be expected to work in 100° plus heat and below freezing temperatures; often laying on the ground, and be able to withstand the ripe aroma of decaying, moist turfgrass clippings. Do to the extremely unique equipment used to maintain a golf course, no training will be available. If this sounds like a position for you, you will be compensated slightly more than an oil monkey at the local quick lube. Also, you must supply your own tools that will often be pilfered by co-workers to perform equipment repairs without your approval or knowledge.

Apply in person at - Slightly Dysfunctional Country Club, Dollar Spot Drive, Grinding Wheel, MN

Should the superintendent know how to grind reels and bedknives? Since turf technicians aren’t hanging out on street corners looking for work, superintendents should have at least a cursory knowledge of reel grinding and sharpening. Perhaps part of, on-the-job assistant superintendent training, a period of time spent with a journeyman turf technician to learn the finer points in reel mower grinding and sharpening would be wise. Perhaps mower sharpening should a prerequisite to becoming the head superintendent. It’s always comforting to know a “Plan B” is in place, if for some reason your equipment technician leaves, gets sick or is on vacation a reel sharpening can take place in his absence.

WHAT WAS

Not too long ago it was a difficult proposition to grind a reel and bedknife to factory specifications. Some readers may recall names of grinders like Peerless and Ideal in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s these grinders were known as “Hook Grinders” because of the hook that guided the grinding stone along the reel blade, one laborious blade at a time. This process of single reel blade grinding was time consuming and produced average results. The finished results and the accuracy of grinding the units rested in the experience and patience of the individual who was operating the grinder. These technicians often taught themselves how to grind by trial and error or by a superintendent that learned from another superintendent and pass the information along.

Backlapping was the final stage of this process and often needed to be conducted for an hour or more to mate the reel with the bedknife. Fast forward to the late 1970’s, manufacturers of grinders with names like Neary, Foley and Atterton & Ellis raced to the industry with the spin grinder. Now a novice turf technician could produce a great grind in less time and be certain that the reel was close to a true cylinder. Gone were the days of long backlapping procedures to make-up for average grinding results that relied on the experienced touch of an experienced turf technician.

During the rapid expansion of the golf industry of the late 1980’s and 1990’s turf mangers were required to lower the height of cut on turfgrass areas in response to better turf varieties and better overall turf management techniques. Superintendents and the turf technicians were challenged to repair, maintain and keep sharp a new generation of turf equipment that delivered much lower and better quality of cut. Greens that were maintained at a height of cut of 3/16 of an inch in the 1970’s are now maintained at 1/8 of an inch. Not only that, we don’t even use fractions to illustrate what heights of cut we maintain. With lower cuts the nomenclature most often used is a decimal equivalent, 1/8 = .125.


Bedknife Grinding
WHAT IS
Most every golf course maintenance shop is equipped with a measuring device known as an ACCU-GAGE®. The ACCU-GAGE® can measure height of cut on reel mowers to the ten thousands of an inch. Terms that were being used to describe distances and spaces are now expressed routinely in thousandths of an inch. The ACCU-GAGE® uses a machine shop type dial indicator to measure the distances between the bottom of the rollers and the top face of the bedknife.

Height of cut conversions

Today’s reel sharpener manufacturers responded with advances in technology, making it possible to return a reel to Original Equipment Manufacturers specifications with the “touch of a button.”

Even though these high tech machines that sharpen reels and bedknives are much less reliant on touch the superintendent and equipment technician must have a thorough understanding of how the relationship between reel and bedknife work to keep turf healthy and maintained at desirable heights of cut.

THE GREAT DEBATE

To subvert the simplicity gained from modern machines to enable technicians to prefect the grinding process efforts confusing the issues rage on. Following, is just a sampling of controversial issues relating to the fine art and science of sharpening mowers:

• Relief grinds on reels,
• Light contact vs. no contact,
• Pinch paper flat – cut paper perpendicular,
• Two pieces of paper, cut one pinch one,
• Back lap or no backlap,
• Light touch-ups of bedknife front face,
• Scissor cut vs. scythe cut,
• Hard back relief on bedknife top face.

There exists many ways to condition reel mowers to perform and accomplish an after-cut appearance the superintendent and most importantly the golfer desires. Each reel mower manufacturer has recommendations to maintain. Only though a clear understanding of the theory of reel mower mechanics can a superintendent and turf technician decide on what’s the best method of grinding and sharpening.

TRUE TODAY AS IT WAS IN 1943

Here’s an excerpt from The Greenkeepers’ Reporter, November-December, 1943

EMERY WHEEL GRINDING
“If you are inexperienced do not attempt sharpening with an emery wheel in times like these. Wait until after the war-as there are no new mowers available now.

…no unskilled man should be given the job sharpening mowers with an emery wheel grinder. Anyone doing this work should have a thorough knowledge of what he’s doing.”

Whether superintendent, assistant, or turf technician, each day you are being judged on the quality of turf you maintain. It is to your advantage to have a working knowledge of grinding and sharpening reel type mowers.

“You have to be patient and keep grinding”

Davis Love III

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Golf Course Irrigation


By Michael D. Vogt, CGCS, CGIA

 
There remains no simple way or shortcut to arrive at a method to manage irrigation water, especially given the inherent inefficiencies or water application with a circular pattern with designed overlaps along with single head coverage. However, the increase use of handheld moisture meters and in-ground moisture sensors have brought about many changes in water management and hand water applications particularly on greens surfaces. The superintendent must quantify the use of the current irrigation system by using the steps above and making adjustments to time at individual heads on a constant basis, which remains our best practice of today. Without the baseline numbers from an audit it remains a guessing game on what areas of the course are receiving quality coverage. Out of all information attained from irrigation audits the most important number to attain remains Distribution Uniformity; that percentage is the broad report card of the irrigation systems ability to apply water evenly over a give area.

When a superintendent designs a schedule for water distribution that schedule must be modified to accommodate changes in weather or evapotranspiration (ET0) which can change the turfs need for water. An audit provides the tools necessary to meet these requirements.

Our modern irrigation systems become less efficient with time and even the most advanced systems were never designed or intended to be a “set it and forget it” water distribution tool. The recommended schedule resulting from an audit is based on the field results; inspections, distribution uniformity, precipitation rate, soil intake amounts, turf water use, root zone depth and soil water holding capacity. Further adjustments to scheduling must be made to accommodate the limits of the control system used to operate the system.

An added benefit to an irrigation audit or multiple audits is to identify trends in system maintenance or other system needs. Typical maintenance activities that may be identified by an audit include:

• Adjusting sprinkler heads to level;

• Adjusting arcs for proper pattern coverage;

• Ensuring that there is nozzle and sprinkler uniformity;

• Clearing clogged nozzles;

• Replacing drive mechanisms or irregular rotating heads.

Also, an audit may alert superintendents to more significant problems, such as:

• Moving heads to more appropriate spacing;

• Adjusting pressures at pumping source;

• Adding pressure regulating devises in field;

• Upgrading to different system components (sprinklers, valves, pressure regulating valves, screens, filters, etc.).

Money Savings

Money saving examples of a properly maintained and scheduled system (an irrigation audit will supply these numbers to calculate your savings):


Once field data is gathered an illustration of saving can become clear and a return on investment can be communicated to club or course leaders.

Water savings will look like this:

Water will always have a cost, whether its cost is just pumping or you must actually purchase water. In the example above Distribution Uniformity (DQLQ) was collected for a golf course in the east that purchased water by the unit (1,000 gallons) which costs $1.40. Simple math tells us that saving 10% in DQLQ will yield a savings of 4,236,024 gallons per year. The equation would look like this, 4,236,024 / 1,000 = 4,236, 4,236 X $1.40 = $5,930.40.

Power savings would look like this:

Pump station pumps 1,000 gallons per minute, we save 4,236,024 gallons per year or 4,236 minutes of pumping time or 70.6 hours. If your course irrigation power bill was $21,000 per year based on 55,910,086 gallons at 60% DULQ that number would be 0.000376 (55,910,086 / $21,000 = 0.000376) per gallon in electricity or electricity savings of $1,592.00. In addition, saving 70.6 hours over the life of the pump system, that would equate to at least one free year added to the life of the pump station.

Combined savings of $5,930.40 water + $1,592.00 electricity = Total yearly savings $7,522.40.

Audit, $3,000.00 + new nozzles $3,000.00 + labor $1,522.40 = payback - one year

To locate a Golf Irrigation Auditor near you look to the Irrigation Association website;



http://www.irrigation.org/hirecertified/

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Golfdom Hits Home on Latest Issue, Must Read for Older Supers

5.9% of superintendents are age 60 or above.

Mark Woodward said it best, "It seems our industry sometimes eats its own" Read the whole issue here Golfdom .

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Is your golf facility psychologically ready for change?

About every ten or fifteen years the economy thumps everyone on the side of the head to remind them to shape up; shoving many golf businesses into a state of shock. 2008 showed us a perfect example of a good thumping with a major collapse in the housing and financial markets. Okay, enough of that, fast forward to today, the shock has (mostly) worn off and it’s time to shake off the cobwebs and move ahead. For many golf facilities, this is the time to reevaluate the course of action, reposition the business, or even reconfigure the whole facility.

For most golf course businesses it’s so much easier to go back to the way things used to be. The funny thing about change is that it mostly strikes the psychological part of the system, and the majority of golf business leaders that charts the course of the facility, must expect and properly handle the emotional ups and downs of the customer / member and most importantly the staff throughout the transition.

Just over the past few years, I’ve have witnessed the firing of key golf business staff, rebirth of entire organizations, layoffs, and repositioning of companies (wow, those management companies are spending money like the 112th Congress!). Although I personally enjoy the prospects of change, years of dealing with various golf business and their organizational changes has taught me a lesson or two about dealing with the unsettling factors involved with major change within the golf management business. Here’s what I think:

Deal with the fear of change. Your other option is stagnation which is really much more frightening. The way you can help the business and staff overcome the fear of change is to provide as many facts and analyses as is possible. The more knowledge everyone has, the less emotionally reactive they become.

Don’t act out of panic. You’re almost sure to make the absolutely wrong decision. Need I say more?

Take things one step at a time. Keep a long term, strategic view, make your plans, and then act accordingly. Break the change process into steps. The longest journey begins with the first step.

Remove yourself from the situation. Pretend like you’re giving advice to someone else (that’s funny, coming from a consultant). I’m saying this from experience. Something happens when you’re removed from the situation – you become more rational and less impetuous in your decisions.

Get your staff on board during the planning process. You need the affected staff and organization leaders to make successful transitions happen. They need to understand why the change needs to occur, where the organization is ultimately headed, and how you will get there in order to transmit the ideas throughout their respective departments and staff members. The more time you spend with them laying out the groundwork before the change occurs, the easier the transition.

Communicate, communicate, and communicate. Engage the group throughout the change process both by talking and listening. This is no time to hide in your office, behind your computer screen. Pay particular attention to the quiet ones. They’re the ones listening to everyone else and can provide a wealth of information about the general morale and other on-goings within the club.

Expect problems. Know that things will go wrong. Your staff will inevitably get cold feet, the markets will change, and your finances won’t go as planned (at least until December 21). It’s OK. Your plan should have wiggle room, but also, don’t beat yourself (or anyone else) up if things go slightly off course. Regroup and pull things back on course. You never know, you might even decide to change the intended course halfway through the process based on the new information.

Not everyone will be unhappy. Whenever I’m presenting to a group about a particular subject I always notice a few quietly nodding their heads. By tuning into the “Head Nodders” know that some of your staff is already on board to make these changes happen. Use them to help you in the change process. If they’re already nodding they most likely share your vision, and can help you during the transition.

The ending is just as important as the beginning. Once you’ve gone through some type of change process, don’t let the organization fall back into the old patterns otherwise your efforts will go to waste. Everything associated with the change process will feel a little shaky for a while. Make sure all the processes, new systems, and new positions are solidly in place before you relax and grab that cold frosty to celebrate. Don’t let the opportunity to celebrate with your fellow change agents; the staff and the patient golfers should be included in the Hoop-La!

Change, whatever it may be, is one thing that’s inevitable, the better we prepare to be agents of change the better and more valuable of a manager and a leader we become. It easy after the first ten big changes, honest.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Golf Irrigation Audit


The summer irrigation season is almost here. That means golf course superintendents will soon be applying valuable water resources to the course. It is the responsibility of all in the golf industry to ensure that water is used wisely. An audit of the irrigation system has been shown to be the most effective tool for maximizing water use efficiency. Irrigation audits consist of three main activities:

• Site inspection

• Performance testing

• Irrigation scheduling

Each activity in itself can result in significant water and cost savings. Together, these activities provide valuable information based on site specific conditions and irrigation system performance.

Special Offer - May Only

If you book an irrigation audit during the month of May I will be offering a special price; one acre (greens, tees or fairways) for $1,500, two acres for $2,000, plus travel expenses from Saint Louis, Missouri. Included in your audit report is a complete distribution uniformity test, pressure test at each sprinkler head, precipitation rate, irrigation scheduling worksheet and an evaluation of control system and pump station.

If you’re considering irrigation system upgrades or a new system in the future - now will be the time to save on parts and installation. I can work for you to secure the best in installation and products for the best negotiated price. I do not work with or for any irrigation manufacturer, distributor or installation company. My recommendations are not bias to any brand or irrigation company.

I have been a certified golf irrigation auditor for twelve years and a certified golf course superintendent for twenty five years; I know how to help superintendents maximize system components.

In this climate of public opinion a golf irrigation audit is the perfect way to document that your club is conscientious about conserving valuable resources. Call or email for more information on this valuable service.


Certified Golf Irrigation Auditor: Michael Vogt, CGCS, CGIA mvogt@mcmahongroup.com / 800-365-2498


Friday, April 20, 2012

Equipment Wash System from Clearwater

This equipment wash system is the most revolutionary system I have seen in the industry. All tanks and pumps are below ground saving space and keeping vandalism and equipment incursions to a minimum. Simple care and cleaning of the system and installation can be handled by the superintendent and crew or local contractor. Best feature-value, you get a get product for a great price.


ClearWater Systems
Check out the video, it will change the way you think of smelly equipment washing!

video

I have no financial stake in this company and bring this information to the golf industry because I feel it to be a superior product.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Opening Day at Wrigley Field

First time on this blog not to have a golf course picture! Sorry, it’s a new opportunity for a chance at the World Series for the Chicago Cubs, come on, I am not getting any younger!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Maintenance Facility Self Evaluation Form

After several weeks of availability I will be closing the Golf Course Maintenance Facility Self Evaluation Forms. Wednesday February 8th at 3:00 pm CST I will close the access to the forms and begin drafting the final report. Everyone that took the time to fill in this evaluation form will receive a custom report comparing their facility with the statistical mean of all that reported. This report will perhaps give you a starting point to evaluate and compare your facility with the average, pointing out your facilities strengths and weaknesses. If you would like to participate, follow the link below prior to Wednesday, February 8th and take 5 minutes to fill out the form. I will email the final report during the week of February 19th.
Participate in the Maintenance Facility Self Evaluation Form

Monday, January 16, 2012

Turf Care Center Self Evaluation Form

In an effort to quantify the maintenance facilities conditions from various golf courses I have built a short self evaluation form. It is my hope that the information gathered from this form will be used as a tool to help superintendents identify the general conditions of Turf Care Centers throughout the industry.


Only superintendents that complete this rating form will receive the final data compiled by me. The more superintendents that complete these evaluations the more exact the data will be. Perhaps the use of this data will enable superintendents to “sell” a new and/or improved facility at the golf course they manage.

Please take several minutes and complete this self evaluation form, follow this link.




I will email results one month from today to all that respond.



Mike Vogt, CGCS

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Measuring the Success of the Golf Maintenance

Methodology: A post was made on LinkedIn Groups - GCSAA, Golf Superintendent, Golf Course Superintendents / Turf Professionals, Golf Course Superintendents, Assistants & Interns; also on Facebook Group; Golf Course Maintenance and the blog, Golf Course Business. At these sites a copy of the question or a link was posted to the poll. These posting links and polls where left online for 10 days and active for 10 days.

The question was: If you were ask to measure the success of the golf maintenance business you manage, what one metric would you use?

The selections were:
  • Budgetary
  • Conditioning
  • Player satisfaction
  • Increase in rounds played
Of 132 respondents that weighed-in, no confirmation was made as to the respondents livelihood as a golf course superintendent.

I asked the question to investigate what was considered the mission as viewed by the golf course superintendent to his/her golf course maintenance endeavor. This poll is unscientific but it revealed that the metric that best described success in the business of golf maintenance is Player satisfaction.

Golf course conditioning garnered 21% and is the top response from golfers perennially from the National Golf Foundation.

An Increase in Rounds played could be construed as perhaps a function of discounted pricing but I like to think if an increase was had it was due to better overall management - cost controls as well as proper pricing.

And lastly success as a Budgetary category, the ability to properly manage a golf course to a budget came in last, at 11%.

In McMahon Group's survey database the golf course has always scored highest in satisfaction considering all club amenities, services and features. Most important, the golf facility was always listed as the most important feature at clubs that offer golf.

We can easily take away that the management of golf course maintenance as viewed by golf course managers, superintendents and others in the same business is driven by Player satisfaction and Conditioning, more so than financially driven by increasing rounds or achieving a budgetary goal. Golf course superintendents should also be keenly aware of the facts that sound business management will also be an integral part of the important metrics equation when judging success in golf course management.

Important to the above equation is also a Value – Price – Quality comparison. Golf has a dramatic range of product, from a mom & pop nine hole to a deluxe high end, oceanfront, private clubs. Consider these variables when making decisions on appropriate golf course maintenance techniques.

Being a golf course superintendent you must consider the above dilemma. Golf course superintendents are constantly being asked to achieve two seemingly conflicting goals: assure the highest quality of the course while keeping costs low. While it may seem futile to try to resolve these two conflicting issues, a structured approach towards cost and quality can help, player satisfaction and conditioning are still the most important drivers to success.

Efforts to quantify these elements are always going to cause ulcers. Great superintendents make their best effort to supply the best conditions that will yield player satisfaction and good conditioning along with a cost that can be tolerated by the business. Once this balance is achieved the market will generally reward the facility with increased business, whether it is memberships or daily play.

The lines are generally blurred when it comes to successful management and key metrics involved. All of the choices are indeed interrelated, if one area is left without attention the rest of the categories won’t matter. Players must be satisfied for them to return, a budget must be closely met or the business will not have appropriate funds to operate, conditioning of the course speaks to satisfaction levels and in increase in usage will generally bring in more dollars.