Your golf course’s busy summer season can be very lucrative — but high season maintenance costs can get incredibly expensive. If you aren’t prepared for the changing weather, increased foot and cart traffic, or potential emergencies, you’re putting your business at risk and jeopardizing your high season profits.
But just like many aspects of running a golf business, being prepared and planning ahead will minimize the danger of the new season. foreUP clients all over North America prepare for warmer weather in various ways. By analyzing your upcoming weather and applying these strategies, you too can save money on your summer maintenance.
Experienced golf operators will likely already have a general knowledge of the absolute must-have supplies for the high season. Things like fertilizers, wetting agents, sand, or pesticides are not new concepts to golf course maintenance specialists. But if you’re not buying in bulk and buying in advance, you’re probably spending too much.
In general, you’ll want to buy these things in massive quantities from a seller you trust in order to get bulk discounts. Even if you don’t need this fertilizer right now, buying ahead of time will save you time and stress in the long run as the needs come up over the course of the season.
The same is true for maintenance parts — and buying in advance is even more crucial in this case. For any machinery you need to maintain like carts, sprinklers, mowers, and any other mechanized accessories, replacement parts can get pretty pricey. And when something breaks, you need a fix fast.
When you buy replacement parts before an emergency, you give yourself the liberty to shop around and potentially haggle for the best price. Operators desperate for a part don’t get that luxury and may end up paying premium prices in order to get the piece as quickly as possible. Plus, think of the stress you’ll avoid when something goes wrong and the solution is already on hand.
Being prepared goes beyond buying the right things in advance. It’s also important to take a good look at your grounds and decide what needs to happen when — and then optimize your plans for maintenance.
This summer, gas prices are not forgiving, so mowing is becoming a big cost and cause for concern for many groundskeepers. In order to save on fuel, you’ll want to reevaluate your mowing schedule. Try and experiment, or look back on previous seasons to decide just how often and how short your grass needs to be in order to stay healthy and beautiful. Switching to a less frequent mow schedule will not only save on fuel costs but can also keep your grass better protected in the dryer, hotter seasons.
Additionally, this is a perfect time to implement more frequent rolling in place of mowing. Rolling your greens is great for smoother play and higher green speeds for your golfers and doesn’t produce clippings that you’ll have to dispose of. And when you do have clippings, look into alternatives to expensive disposal — try sprinkling the extra clippings on your fairway in order to reuse what you have as a free fertilizer alternative.
In the case of the rough, this massive expanse can be incredibly time-consuming and pricey to mow and maintain. As summer reaches full swing, consider mowing your course’s rough less often and letting the grass grow slightly taller. Not only does this significantly reduce the energy and money you’re using on the rough, but it can also create more of a challenge for golfers trying to get out. Because of the nature of the rough, you can try different heights and schedules with pretty minimal changes to actual play for your golfers, so try changing the mowing schedule of low-play rough areas, or even all of your course’s rough.
Hopefully, your existing staff is made up of individuals you can trust to care about your facility as much as you do. If not, it may be time to bring on new help. As a leader, this is a necessary time to really emphasize the importance of daily maintenance checks and ensure that they understand the risks associated with not being diligent.
Clearly outline your expectations for each team and what they need to be doing every day. A good practice is to identify a recurring weekly care scheduling that has details specifying exactly what needs to happen and when. If cart crew needs to check the water levels in cart batteries every single day, write that down on every day of the schedule. Then put the schedule somewhere that supervisors and staff can access and reference it whenever they need to.
If you want to be extra sure things are getting done, you can turn this schedule into a checklist and even make supervisors sign off on each item at the end of a shift. You can also offer incentives for employees that perform extraordinary work through the summer. Have your supervisors keep an eye out for team members that consistently do great work during their shifts and need minimal reminding about tasks, and reward those staff members with pro shop credit, gift cards, or free rounds.
Don’t let summer maintenance costs keep you up at night for the entire warm season. Instead, plan ahead and do what you can to be prepared for emergencies of all kinds. Plus, with the right management tools, you can shift your focus around as needed without worrying about your back office.