by Paul Woodham, STRI Agronomy services manager
Balancing your greenkeeping maintenance budget can be tough no matter how big or small the course is. How times have changed. The golfing boom is a distant echo to all, other than the clubs that are correctly managing for the future.
There is therefore an inevitable squeeze on course maintenance and resource budgets. Some have continued to invest whilst others are seeing years of cuts starting to impact the success of the course and club business.
I believe a successful golf course needs to meet three criteria:
- Good location
- Good product
- Good management
Think about your course. How many of these criteria do you think you can comfortably tick?
If you hit all three then your club should be in good shape. Hit two out of three, then your club should be reasonably competitive. Hit one out of three, then you are likely to go bust!
It is highly unlikely that your club is going to change location and there may now be more competition nearby than when your club was founded. Resulting in the dreaded, too much supply and not enough demand.
This will only change when golf grows or the supply shrinks. Will this be your competitor closing the doors or you? The product you are selling must therefore be better, or at least equally good as the competitor.
Product and management
The presentation and performance of your course is your main product. This should be sustainably managed. But what is sustainability? This is often where greenkeeping and club management conflict is encountered.
Sustainability should embrace environmental management, but if no-one wants to buy or play on the product because it’s in poor condition then it won’t be financially sustainable.
Spending to improve
Invest to improve! Good money will be wasted if the course is agronomically flawed. Have you been papering over cracks for too many years only for the same cracks and issues to reappear?
Your budget will drain away probably faster than the rainfall flooding the course. Deal with the issues and they will become easier and cheaper to manage.
“I hate wasting time or money and that happens all the time for no good reason, and then people save money by skimping on the important things” – Rick Baker, American inventor
Greenkeeping budgets can become too consumed by product purchases, that try to counteract the problems caused by fundamental agronomic problems the club are knowingly or unknowingly ignoring. This may be dealing with disease, soft greens, flooded bunkers etc.
The answer is unlikely to be consistently found in a bottle. ‘Two for one’ offers rarely deal with the cause of issues, so be careful how money is spent.
Too many course projects or renovations are shelved due to budget cuts. We simply need to understand the problem, allocate the corrective actions and schedule these with understanding. Good cultural management will lead to a good product.
If you want to learn more about golf course management, Paul Woodham is hosting a series of Chair of Greens workshops, with England Golf, at the start of November 2017.
A handful of spaces are still available, at a very reasonable £60 per person, with a 25% discount for clubs that have been awarded the new GolfMark accreditation.
To book a place simply follow the link, at the venue you wish to attend, and sign-up.