The USGA Green Section wrote a tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic even, article on its website on how golf courses increase their maintenance costs. I may not agree with all of them (edging the buggy paths, for example) but there are plenty that I agree with and am surprised that Malaysian golf courses continue to do them or even constructing them. Lets list and summarise them here; words in bold are from the article (ok, maybe I paraphrased here and there: sorry) and those not in bold are my comments.
- Having (or adding) a lot of bunkers which should be maintained to be consistent and uniform. The more bunkers a golf course has, the more difficult it is to be maintained to be consistent and uniform or even maintained regularly. And no, I don’t think consistently and uniformly not maintaining them at all counts.
- Plant more trees. Ya… There are owners and bosses who love to plant trees. Committees too. Perhaps some people think its a legacy thing. With too much trees, grass don’t get enough sunlight and the efficiency of your mowers is less to mow around them. Plus your rough/fairways dries out slower because less air and sun.
- Lakes and stream banks. Mowing and trimming them as close to the water edge as possible. These are mostly manual work.
- A ball washer for every hole. If you must have them (they’re sponsored perhaps?) install them at tees of holes 1, 10 and at your par-3s. Golfers or caddies can make use of them while waiting for their turn. If I have a ball washer I’d be changing the soap water every week.
- Let the maintenance staff fill the divots instead of educating golfers (and caddies) to do it.
- Blowing debris from fairways and roughs (I may not agree totally on this. Though I usually blow the leaves on Fridays only)
- Have a multitude of mowing heights. This is my pet peeve. I try very hard to not roll my eyes when superintendents proudly tell me that their tee is mowed at 14mm, the collar is at 12mm the apron is at 15; the fairway collar at 20, the light rough… As if golfers or even the staff can tell the difference of 2mm. I’m betting the Myanmarese mechanic back at the workshop is laughing to himself while setting everything at 17mm… For most clubs; I suggest only three mowing heights: greens, fairway (=tee, collar, apron etc) and rough (=light rough, deep rough etc).
- Mow the greens and/or tees with walk-behinds. Mind you most clubs in Malaysia get away with it because instead of either two ride-ons or six walk-behinds greensmowers for 18 holes; some clubs have two or three walk-behinds for 18 holes and don’t see a problem with it.
- Ornamental flower beds. I totally agree. Why have an unmaintained flower bed? I actually conspired with a superintendent of a client club by removing a long neglected flower bed while the boss is away and pretending it was never there. Long story… Maybe one day I’ll tell it.
- Irrigate non-playing areas. I took out a lot of sprinklers from rough areas.
- Overseed turf that would go dormant. Not applicable to Malaysia.
- Make your natural unnatural. Yeah… about this. I think we shold keep natural areas to be natural however, this does not mean unmanaged; I usually send workers once a year to kill new trees, ‘volunteer’ oil palms and creeper plants.
- Plant the wrong grasses for your area. You know; Seashore Paspalum for fields far from the seashore or Bermudagrass/Tifeagle for areas with a lot of shade.
- Edge the buggy paths frequently. I actually see nothing wrong with this if you have the manpower. I do this at least at holes 1 and 10 for the best first impressions.
- Let your irrigation system get too old. At the very least the pump house lah…
- Use plenty of signs, stakes and ropes. Ya. Mowing around these takes time and reduce efficiency.
For detailed sarcasm, visit the page at www.usga.org/course-care/forethegolfer/steps-to-make-your-course-unaffordable.html.
For sharing information about how to not increase the cost of your course, call Normas at 03-5I3I-OO66 or email me at mynormasATconsultant.com replacing AT with @.