Innovative Ideas to Improve Your Golf Course's Bottom-Line.

(3 minute read) 

Reading the Green is a "quick hit" monthly newsletter sent by Staples Golf, a Scottsdale based Golf Course Architecture firm that works on behalf of Municipal stakeholders like you. Each month, we explore community focused topics all Municipal stakeholders should be keeping an eye on.

Community Golf Fan, 

In today’s golf market, golf facility stakeholders are weighing the costs of improving their courses and other facility infrastructure and wondering if now is a good time to invest. We at Staples Golf have pulled together some common facility improvements and wanted to share with you the ones proven to show high impact with ROIs, of which are seriously worth considering.

(Please note that every course has a variety of factors that goes into any project scenario, and our estimates are given based on industry averages and our personal experience in the field.)

Targeted Maintenance Revisions
ROI: 1-3 Years

Believe it or not, changing something as simple as mowing-lines on a golf course can result in some significant labor savings. The time it takes to cut fairway grass could be reduced by as much as 30-40% if less efficient approaches are currently being utilized. The USGA has done quite a bit of research in this department, and this article on Form vs. Function further highlights the cost savings variables.

Another project that results in big savings is a comprehensive tree maintenance plan. By removing labor intensive trees (particularly non-native species in many instances), and significantly trimming back the remaining trees where appropriate, ongoing tree maintenance can be greatly reduced, as can water costs. Additionally, turfgrass health will improve, as will the overall quality of the course.

Turf Variety Replacement/ Reduction
ROI: 2-5 Years

It’s not difficult to see how reducing turf has a direct effect on reduced maintenance costs and water use, which has been effectively implemented at many facilities, particularly in drought-prone areas. Additionally, replacing turf with newly developed hybrids is also showing not only increased performance and water efficiency, but high ROIs related to customer satisfaction and improved conditions.

Some of the more water efficient turfs are actually posting 30% reduced water needs. There’s a lot of research being conducted on turfgrass efficiency these days, so consider checking out the USGA’s Resources on Turfgrass Research to drill down on what might be the best options for your course.

Forward Tees
ROI: 3-5 Years

You may have heard of the Longleaf Tee System, which, according to Dan Van Horn, the man behind the idea and the President of US Kids Golf, was implemented "to create a living laboratory for the industry" in order to make facilities more family friendly.

Incorporating forward tees is an idea that's been heavily emphasized over the past few years within the golf industry for very good reason; it's fairly inexpensive to implement, and creates opportunities to make any course more approachable to the beginner, kids, and families. With a newly added forward tee that encourages a more diverse user base, increased rounds may very well follow.

Bunker Upgrades
ROI: 3-8 Years

For many courses out there, bunker maintenance actually surpasses greens maintenance (up to 200 dedicated hours per week during season for some courses!). So, as quality labor continues to be more expensive and less available, finding ways to limit exhaustive hand work, as well as prolong a bunker's life, is more important than ever.

Bunker liners are an increasingly popular option that reduce maintenance quite significantly over non-lined bunkers, which means labor resources can be put elsewhere. The typical pay-back on some of the industry’s best liners are estimated at around 5 years. An added benefit is the extended life of the lined bunker over the non-lined bunker.

Other options include changing the bunker style to something simpler to maintain, and/ or removing certain bunkers altogether.

Irrigation Improvements
ROI: 5-25 Years

Odds are high that your most pressing project is your irrigation system. This is the lifeblood of your golf course, and represents significant opportunity for not only reduced annual costs on maintenance repair, water, and power, but for improved conditions that have proven to result in high customer satisfaction and increased revenue.

The typical lifespan of an irrigation system is 20-30 years, depending on the quality of the original installation, and overall site conditions.  And thanks to ever improving technology, many aspects such as the central control, the moisture monitoring components, and the overall system design, are becoming outdated faster than ever.

Contingent on the course and the price of water being used, the inefficiency of these older systems could be equating to big losses. If your course happens to be using potable water, as 14% of US courses are, digging a well to take advantage of ground water where effluent is not available, is showing rather quick paybacks. There are many variables however that will determine the cost of digging a well which impact ROI.

Here's What You Need To Know:
- These types of course improvements are not about if, but when! 
- Many high value projects are showing ROIs within five years
- Many projects can be done in-house with the right leadership
- Calculating project ROI is essential to selling your stakeholders on the project
- A healthier course and a stronger bottom-line is a win-win reason to consider these projects

Timing is Everything

We realize more often than not, everything comes down to timing, so when you're ready for us, we'll be ready for you and your golf course!

Please remember, we present webinars at no charge to stakeholders who oversee facilities looking to improve. If that's of interest to you, please tell us about your golf course by clicking here.


Andy Staples, ASGCA


PS- If you haven't gotten a chance to read our Community Links White Paper on Municipal Golf in America, you can download it here!

About Us
Staples Golf is a nationally renowned golf course architecture firm, known for its signature development vision, Community Links. Community Links is a paradigm shifting approach with regards to how a golf course fits into the community. It includes re-branding, resource conservation, community involvement, new player development, among others.
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