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Preparing a maintenance Schedule

Posted by mynormas on January 13, 2012

Can you play on this grass?

Do you find that your turf maintenance work keep clashing with major events, or that you have to apologize to a customer because he played on turf that is ‘less than perfect’? Do you become irritated when the turf maintenance guy asks for higher expenditure in one month and sometimes it is in the month with the lowest income?  Do you understand why, everyone and their mother, knows that the months of Nov and December of every  year is the rainy season but yet, after all this years, nothing has been done to prepare the turf so that minimal disease and damage happen? Have you ever asked, if everybody is aware of the date of the year’s main event (Club Championship, football final, concert season, school holidays etc) why can’t they prepare the turf to take the extra stress?

Question: do you have a turf maintenance calendar?

In the context of turf maintenance, there are a few maintenance works that fall under the category of ‘Cultural Practice’ that needs to be applied or performed at certain intervals.  Of course, for most turf areas these works disrupt play or enjoyment of customers, clients and guests. At the same time, most golf courses, football fields, or parks cannot afford to be closed wholly for long periods of time.

The best way to overcome this problem is to schedule these works into periods of low activity for example; in between football seasons, during fasting month, major exams week etc. This way, the disruption occurs to the least number of customers, which can be easier to handle.

Other benefits of scheduling work for the whole year includes:

1. Peaking the performance of the playing field/golf course during the period when it will receive the most media or customer attention.

2. Knowing exactly the amount of interval between the maintenance activity; e.g. between aerations or dethatchings; and adjusting accordingly.

3. Informing important guests or big organizers of when to schedule (or reschedule) their event. In my experience, several organizers are grateful  to be informed earlier and especially if we can help to point an alternate site for them.

4. Preparing the grass for the times when it is predicted to receive the most amount of stress. E.g. before the monsoon season, or before the grassed area is turned into a temporary car park for an annual sale or ‘buka puasa buffet’ or concert or lion dance etc.

5. Staggering the purchase of materials and equipment needed for one major work over many months will help in managing the cash-flow better and will help you spread the costs over the year.

6. Keeping staff employed effectivelythrough most of the year.

How do you start?

Start by having two lists:

1. List of events for the year or probable time of the year for the events. This may include, school holidays, public holidays, wedding season, golf season etc.

2. List of maintenance work activities (cultural practices, liming, soil amendment etc). Basically any major work that will disrupt play. Forget regular fertilizing or irrigation or stuff like that that can be manouvered around play.

Also weather pattern for the past few years. Ok, you may ask: what pattern? Did I miss the global warming crisis? Stop making excuses and get a monthly bar chart of rain days or rainfall; at the very least, you can make educated guesses.


Simple sample of yearly schedule

  1. Take  one of your most important and biggest (messiest) work of the year and consider when you would have that.
  2. Choose the time when traffic is lowest on your site but weather is tolerable. And mark the dates for your work.
  3. Basing on the interval for the same work, set the  dates for the next round (e.g. twice a year: six months later, 4x a year: 3 months later etc)
  4. Then stagger the other works so that it is not too close to the main works as in no 2 and 3 above.

Its not that difficult is it? Well, who said turf maintenance was rocket science? Of course, if you’ve never done it before or if the turf maintenance guys don’t have the support of the event management or marketing or golf management guys/gals; they’ll never get it done and the result is finger pointing the whole year. I’ve seen it done and I’ve seen people lose their jobs too.

Of course its not the end of the story after you actually do the annual calendar. Then you do the monthly calendar. This is especially important to maintenance crews that have limited manpower and resources (tractor, machinery etc.) You plan your work so that you can have enough workers for your projects and enough projects for your workers.

Because of a tournament (in red) extra attention was given to the greens a week prior to the event. Of course lucky Mountan View had an experienced consultant to guide them.

Now that is the easy but yet tricky part. At the same time it is important because this is the time when you should know the exact dates of tournaments, visits, etc so that you can plan your work.

Remember too that a schedule is not set in stone that it cannot be changed. But not having a schedule is as true as the old cliched quote goes: “Failing to plan is like planning to fail”


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