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

Muni Golf Labor Hacks! (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 with Municipal stakeholders like you. Each month, we explore community focused topics all Municipal stakeholders should be keeping an eye on.

Community Golf Fan,

One of the biggest concerns facing the golf industry at large, is the rising costs of labor due to various market forces. In light of this, golf facilities must adapt their course maintenance approaches in order to remain feasible. We’d like to touch on some simple ideas for improved labor efficiency that require minimal cost and effort, that are sure to benefit your course's bottom-line.


Many operators are implementing mow-lines that are unnecessary to sustaining current levels of course playability. By simplifying your mower patterns, you can create near identical conditions in less time, and with reduced labor. We advocate for the classic mowing details illustrated below. If you're already doing this, you're next best solution might be around the corner (although we make no claims that autonomous robot-mowers will be cheap!).

Low Maintenance Areas 

Often, we’ll see courses continue to maintain certain areas that just don’t need the current levels of attention given, because ball flight patterns simply don’t justify it. If you can identify a handful of areas on your course where the rough could be a little thicker, or even surrendered in small part to nature, you could be looking at a significant labor reduction compounded over time. Just identify these areas and adjust accordingly!

Sand Bunkers to Grass Hollows

Most courses have too many bunkers(!), which require tons of maintenance. Believe it or not, it’s actually bunkers (not greens) that take up the most labor resources! Perhaps it’s time to let a few of those bunkers go, and with some simple grading and grassing, bunker hollows can be created to reduce labor costs.Trust us; your golfers won’t miss them. And if eliminating bunkers is out of the question, bunker-liners also reduce maintenance costs, and are showing ROIs in 3-8 years.

Tree Removal

Routine tree maintenance could be costing you a lot, not only in labor costs, but in water and fertilizer costs as well. When turf grass and trees tussle over the same water and sunlight, turf health suffers, and costs go up. By removing troublesome trees that affect your turf, you can free up the labor dedicated to maintaining both. That’s a win-win!

Not every one of these low-to-no-cost approaches to labor reduction are going to work for your course, but we’d be willing to bet at least one or two would. It comes down to looking at your course a little bit differently than what has been the status-quo, and from there, it just comes down to implementation!

Here's what you need to know:

  • Most municipal golf facilities are spending an increasing amount of their budget on rising labor costs.

  • Inefficient mow-lines are quite common and easy to adjust.

  • Native and/ or low-maintenance areas when done properly, do dramatically save costs.

  • Bunkers are a significant resource drain, and most courses have too many.

  • Too many trees on a course impede turf growth and hinder the bottom line!

Please remember, we’re around to answer any questions you might have on this topic, or anything else regarding your community golf course! You can send us an email by clicking here, or feel free to give us a ring at the number below.

Until next time,

Andy Staples, ASGCA

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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