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In Hard Times, Cut the Frills…

Recently I visited a golf course that has fallen on hard times. At one time a private country club, it lost a large number of its members and was forced to take in greenfee play to meet expenses. Located in a highly competitive area for golfers, the club’s finances did not improve and it was forced into receivership. Continuing operations, the bank controlled the purse strings and only approved the bare essentials. Later this year a new owner will take over.

In touring the course with the green chairman and meeting with the superintendent, I could not help but notice that in spite of the dire circumstances, certain frills were surprisingly obvious. Rectangular tees may appeal to all sorts of golfers who watch the game on television, but they are expensive to implement and time consuming to maintain.  Similarly, dew walks off the tees to the fairways may have a place at a high end private country club, but when the green fees are $40, one might question their necessity.

Dew walks off the tees to the fairways may have a place at a high end private country club, but when the green fees are $40, one might question their necessity…

All this brings to mind the need to establish priorities when the survival of a golfing enterprise is at stake. The process is also known as “zero base budgeting.” It involves questioning the need of every expense in the course maintenance budget. Unquestionably the first priority is the puttabilty of the greens. For regular play they don’t have to stimp at twelve and be cut at .125 inches to be acceptable. Similarly consider raising the height of cut on the fairways and lowering it in the rough and apply fertilzers and pesticides only when absolutely necessary.

In these difficult economic times when many golf operations are facing bankruptcy, only the leanest will survive and on a positive note, superintendents who know their stuff and know how to economize will often be the most essential employee on the premises and the last one to let go. So cut the frills and survive till better times return.

2 Responses to “In Hard Times, Cut the Frills…”

  • Nigel Rennie:

    Timeliest comments that I’ve heard from you for the past 20 years, Gord. Good advice never grows old. Maybe some folks will start to listen as the pressure mounts. A dollar spent on fertilizer pays dividends on pesticide savings and stress reduction!

    Good to read your pontifications again!

  • Dave Stevens:

    Hello Gord. Good to hear you are starting up a site. I just finished fertilizing the fairways to get rid of dollar spot.I used to use Millorganite around the greens but they took the heavy metals out of it, it does not work so good. Best Regards, Dave