This spring brings some very targeted concerns for golf courses in the Mid-Continent Region, in particular the economic impacts and how they relate to budget cuts and dealing with the drought. There are a few pointers to consider at this time of the year, and it is necessary to make sure golfers understand the impacts of these decisions.
First of all, Texas is in a significant drought. Fortunately, the second week of March brought some badly needed rain to many parts of the lower Midwest. Very low irrigation ponds are common, however, it is important to help golfers understand that water rationing may be needed this spring to ensure water supplies are adequate through the heat stress of summer should the drought persist.
It also is vitally important to make sure potash levels are adequate in the soil for spring green up of the bermudagrass and zoysiagrass. In an earlier update I mentioned the concern for spring preemerge if a combination of winter and drought creates thin areas during spring green up. Superintendents must monitor this situation carefully.
Several articles have been written regarding budgets cuts due to the economic downturn we are experiencing. Golfer education is critical to explain the impacts budget cuts may have on a particular operation. Some of the most common include:
- Decreased bunker maintenance.
- Reduced weed control and mowing in the roughs.
- Decreased mowing in fairways, greens, and tee slopes.
- Reduced edging of cart paths and bunkers.
All of these equate to significant man hour savings, which is most impactful on the budget because it saves labor and fuel. Nationally, the labor average is about 55% of the golf course budget, so any significant reduction in labor is usually the biggest expense reduction. There are impacts on the golf course when cutbacks are made - but not necessarily impacts on playing conditions.
Our upcoming regional turf conference, held in conjunction with the Central Texas Golf Course Superintendents, is on April 21 st at Barton Creek. The main focus of the meeting is the economic impact and what can be expected in golf maintenance. This is an excellent opportunity to bring your course officials and other management team members to have specific and detailed discussions of these key issues.
I encourage you to consider the value of the Green Section Turf Advisory Service (TAS), and how we can provide support for superintendents to explain the need for budget cuts and the repercussions of these cuts to golfers. Many of the Green Section staff members have already made several of these type of visits and we are well aware of the golfer's concerns.
Applications for TAS visits can be downloaded from the USGA Web site at http://www.usga.org/turf/turf_advisory_service/turf_advisory_service.html .
The 2009 USGA Green Section Turf Advisory Service rates are as follows:
- Half-day - $2300 with a discount of $500 if paid by May 15 ($1800)
- Full-day - $3100 with a discount of $500 if paid by May 15 ($2600)
The discount applies if payment is received by May 15 th , but you may still schedule the actual visit at any time of year.
We look forward to being of service to you and your golf course.