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Turf News

A Different Set of Challenges

Do the prices of greens fees, cart rentals and food and drinks at the golf course concern you? You are not alone. Many golfers state price as a major detractor from playing more rounds, even though many courses have not increased their fees in years.

We are all tightening up our personal budgets, but some golfers still expect the golf course to operate the same as it has in the past. This is a pretty unrealistic perspective. Because of the decline in rounds, many golf courses are now operating on budgets that are 30-50 percent less than in years past. Meanwhile prices of equipment, fertilizer, labor, and even water have continued to sharply increase.

So what should we come to expect during these challenging financial times? One of the things is higher mowing heights. Cutting the turf at a higher height decreases stress and the degree of management needed to keep the grass alive. Another thing to expect is less frequent mowing, especially in the lesser play areas like roughs. Reducing mowing frequency decreases labor and fuel expenses. And expect to see more brown on the course. Water is a natural resource that is in the spotlight around the globe. Golf courses are being asked to strictly manage the amount of water they are applying and these new water restrictions present both financial and management burdens.

What does this mean for the future of golf? Well, it means taking golf back to its roots. Courses are going to be maintained much more simplistically, similarly to the way it was in golf’s early days. Higher turf heights, more inconsistent playing conditions, and a browner look don’t necessarily make for a less enjoyable round. It just makes for a different set of challenges to get that little white ball in the hole, in as few strokes as possible.

Give Them a Break

At every golf course around the country, there are those diehard a.m. golfers who have to have that 1st tee time. Even though they are scheduled to go off at first light, that is often not early enough. Many golfers want to sneak off five to 10 minutes prior to their tee time. And to top it off, some golfers get mad when they play very fast, just to get slowed up by the maintenance staff.

It might help to understand a few things about maintenance operations on the golf course. First and foremost, the maintenance staff is very passionate about providing the best conditions for the customers. And most times the customer would prefer to not know they were there. This makes for a difficult scenario.

In order for the typical day maintenance procedures to get done, the course needs a staff of four to eight workers to operate non-stop for three to five hours every day just to accomplish the basic tasks. These tasks include mowing the greens, tees and fairways, raking the bunkers, and any debris removal from the playing surfaces.

The most common place for golfers to intersect with the maintenance staff is on greens and fairways. On a normal day greens tasks will take approximately two to four hours to complete. This job must be started no earlier than 30 minutes prior to daybreak or dew will re-form on top of the greens, completely defeating the purpose of preparing the surface. The fairway tasks will normally take a bit longer, averaging around five to six hours for completion. This makes golf maintenance staff and golfer interaction practically inevitable.

If you think the maintenance staff should be off the course or out of the way of your round, remember they are there for the betterment of the course and to provide you with quality surfaces to play on. Please keep this in mind before firing your shot into an area currently occupied by a maintenance worker.


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