Can a Golf Course become TOO old?
As a superintendent you become familiar with your golf course and take its current conditions as given. You may have been maintaining that same golf course for a decade without significant improvements or renovations to its infrastructure and turf cover. Why would you want to renovate it or give it an overhaul?
Simple. Because it matters financially !
According to Golf Digest & the University of Minnesota course condition and design are what keep golfers coming back.
So keeping a course in perfect condition is worth the effort and matters financially. Upgrading and ageing course therefore makes it more attractive to play to club outsiders and you will see more visitors returning and more new members signing up.
How do you know if your golf course needs to be renovated? First, you have to see how the game of golf is played today and understand the mind of the people who play it.
The way golf is being played has been changing over the years. Recent trends in golf course design have had a tremendous impact on the playability and maintainability of a golf course. Technological advances in turf maintenance , drainage and irrigation systems, maintenance equipment technology, chemical products and course maintenance practices are changing the face of Golf. All these elements are interrelated and affect each other as the game of Golf evolves.
Maintaining a Golf Course Today vs. Yesterday
The past 30 years have seen ever increasing numbers of players. Player numbers are stagnating but overall courses are being played more than before. Emphasis is therefore placed on superintendents to maintain playing conditions despite heavier usage of the course surface. The overarching goal is to provide the best possible playing conditions throughout the year. Unfortunately, as evermore golf is being played, the superintendent’s job of maintaining a golf course becomes evermore difficult.
If it becomes impossible to keep up with the wear and tear that golfers are producing, then you might consider remodeling as a means to facilitate the maintenance.
Here are some design modifications that can help to make the course maintenance easier.
- Tees can be made larger to distribute wear and tear over a larger area
- greens can be made large enough to minimize the effects of compaction
- bunkers can be placed outside of expected ball landing areas
- golf carts and cart tracks are also impacting how the course is affected by compaction
- improved surface drainage can be provided throughout the golf course to minimize damage from wet conditions, etc.
Adjustments in the design of the golf course might also be necessary to ensure it is played as it should since players tend to hit the ball further today thanks to improved equipment technology and overall better player level.
Golf tournaments being televised 24/7 also change Golfers expectations. Golfers see tournament golf courses in optimal condition and expect these same conditions on golf courses they play on throughout the season. Providing these near perfect playing conditions put a lot of stress on the lawn and require a well planned maintenance calendar to be implemented thoroughly.
Understanding the “Character” of Golf Course
Most people want to make their course one of the best in terms of playability, variety and playing conditions. As the playing season comes to an end in the northern climates, they should evaluate their golf course, highlighting both the good areas and the problems they noticed during the golf season. After the winter retreat from the golf course, the problem areas are a little forgotten when it comes time to prepared them for spring. Before the snow falls, the golf course must have a final critique that is recorded so that it can be remembered and discussed during the winter months. Topics to be studied should include problem areas, specific design features, and maintenance procedures that seem to distinguish the golf course.
Some of the areas to take into account would be:
- Size and condition of tees
- Green and bunker design – size, shape and location
- Quantity and condition of the navigable channel area
- Circulation patterns
- Variety and challenge of each golf hole as well as the entire golf course
- Use of landscaping elements
- Types, location and condition of trees
These elements are part of the integrity and character of each golf course. Those who know their home golf course and also play on other golf courses have found the character of their home course to be very distinctive. It is the essential quality that can make the character of a great golf course.
When planning the remodeling of the golf course, it should be to improve or modernize some area, either in design or in maintenance. But the goal is to maintain the overall character of a Golf Course.
Using GolfGage to understand and quantify the Integrity of the Course
All golf courses need to be upgraded or modernized, but before beginning any work, the current conditions of the course must be evaluated and catalogued. Once all points for improvement have been listed can a superintendent start to decide what needs and what can be changed. Keeping track of all the issues and the wear and tear that happened throughout the season will also be a good indicator as to what elements are prone to fail and what needs an overhaul. If an area has had the tendency to pond water it might be necessary to investigate & renew the surrounding drainage and irrigation system
As we move into this era of better maintenance procedures and golf equipment, let’s not forget the design and its importance in the development and existence of the character of each golf course.
GolfGage allows to capture all issue and work performed over the course of a season. Looking at it again and understanding how these are all interconnected will facilitate the understanding what needs to be improved and what can remain as is.
GolfGage is also an ideal tool for inspecting the redesign work done. A Superintendent can track issues during the renovation work, track the location, take images, compare drone images to the drawing plans and inform contractors of issues early one before it becomes too expensive to make changes to work performed.
Questions you should ask yourself
- Is your golf course supporting or attracting the optimal number of rounds or memberships, or have they been reduced due to poor playing conditions?
- Is the overall golf experience positive, or would improvements to the golf course improve it?
- Can you compete with other golf courses in your area in terms of green fees and the quality of the golfers who play on your golf course?
- What is the reputation of your golf course among the golfers in the area?
We had some clients who ask their members to report on issues they saw around the course and they logged these in GolfGage as a separate dataset which was later used to make an informed decision as to what improvements would have the highest impact on their members perception.
The superintendent’s job is to provide the desired playing conditions on the golf course for the members and visiting guests. A “quick-fix” approach to solving maintenance problems can be avoided by making improvements in design or construction materials using as much information on issues and observations made over the course of a season. Maintenance will then be much easier, more efficient and cost effective.
GolfGage allows you to do just that!
Sign up for a Trial Period to understand how GolfGage can help you identify, log and organise your course conditions and how this can then we turned into valuable insights when making the decision to renovate a course. Ask our experts and let us know what you are trying to achieve. GolfGage can also be used to create bespoke club applications that follow your very own workflows.