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George Pazin

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Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« on: July 17, 2012, 03:41:36 PM »
I'll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about golf course maintenance practices or costs. But I do know a little about math and business costs.

Would adopting UK condition standards affect maintenance costs that significantly? Would those cost savings be passed along to the consumer?

Please educate me, or at least try.
Big drivers and hot balls are the product of golf course design that rewards the hit one far then hit one high strategy.  Shinny showed everyone how to take care of this whole technology dilemma. - Pat Brockwell, 6/24/04

Josh Tarble

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2012, 03:49:21 PM »
Let me preface this by saying I also know little to nothing about maintenance budgets but I would guess it would help substantially.  In my mind, labor costs for mowing has to be the largest single expense.  By presenting a course fast and firm, in general the grass is watered less, thus the grass grows slower and there is less need for mowing. 

Duncan Cheslett

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2012, 03:57:47 PM »
I also know little about golf course maintenance but I know enough to know that UK watering practices in the Arizona desert are not going to be a success.

Most UK courses operate perfectly well with 3 or 4 greens staff. How does this compare with the US?

John Kavanaugh

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2012, 03:59:54 PM »
I seriously doubt that George has been to the Sand Hills or Bandon.  There are perfectly good and fun courses in Texas that let the grass live and die in accordance with UK standards.  George just doesn't play much golf it at all.

The course I just visited today and have played for 44 years has a maintenance budget of $80,000 including salaries, equipment, chemicals and utilities.  We have 200 members who pay $500/year in dues.  9 holes.  It's all American baby.

George Pazin

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2012, 04:04:38 PM »
I seriously doubt that George has been to the Sand Hills or Bandon.  There are perfectly good and fun courses in Texas that let the grass live and die in accordance with UK standards.  George just doesn't play much golf it at all.

The course I just visited today and have played for 44 years has a maintenance budget of $80,000 including salaries, equipment, chemicals and utilities.  We have 200 members who pay $500/year in dues.  9 holes.  It's all American baby.

 :) You're spot on in your guesses. I'd also guess my home muni doesn't do much beyond what the typical UK course does, nor do most of the courses I frequent.

My question is, if the bigger name courses, whether private or public, adopted the same conditioning standards, would things change that much?

My guess is no. Maybe I'm just a little tired of "adopt UK standards" as the panacea to make things hunky dory over here. I'd think you'd agree with that, John, but I am rarely correct in what you think.
Big drivers and hot balls are the product of golf course design that rewards the hit one far then hit one high strategy.  Shinny showed everyone how to take care of this whole technology dilemma. - Pat Brockwell, 6/24/04

John Kavanaugh

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2012, 04:08:13 PM »
George,

Just last week I mentioned to my wife that the UK must have the ugliest white people on the planet, then I watched the John Deere Classic in Peoria, Illinois.  Wow, I owe the people of the UK an apology.

I honestly don't know what UK standards are and say they vary across the country at the same rate as ours.

Tim Pitner

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2012, 04:11:33 PM »
George,

Just last week I mentioned to my wife that the UK must have the ugliest white people on the planet, then I watched the John Deere Classic in Peoria, Illinois.  Wow, I owe the people of the UK an apology.

I honestly don't know what UK standards are and say they vary across the country at the same rate as ours.

Don't you live in Indiana, Mr. Kavanaugh?

John Kavanaugh

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2012, 04:12:52 PM »
I'm actually an Illinois resident myself.  I split my time between the states.

JMEvensky

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2012, 04:20:05 PM »
I think the UK maintenance practices most likely are a result of their clubs members' desires--same as here.

Changing the attitudes of US memberships would get the less manicured courses--but that will only happen by some miracle.

Greg Tallman

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2012, 04:28:21 PM »
I think this goes back to "land fit for golf"... for those courses built on such land, yes they could save money. for those bulit on tougher to manage soils in different climates where growth is a daily reality, the savings would be far less, if at all.

A place like Dismal River might be able to realize considerable savings (assuming they were going for carpet-like conditions at the present time) whereas a place like Muirfield Village would see far less savings based on its climate and soil.

At any rate it is a long uphill battle to educate the typical American golfer who see green and lush as the gold standard. Just listen to the comments of most returning from a trip to Scotland.  

Brent Hutto

Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2012, 04:40:12 PM »
:) You're spot on in your guesses. I'd also guess my home muni doesn't do much beyond what the typical UK course does, nor do most of the courses I frequent.

George,

You don't play at Stoughton Acres out in Butler do you?

P.S. Although according to their web page Stoughton doesn't allow any alcoholic beverages on the course...betcha that would never work in Scotland, what?

George Pazin

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2012, 05:03:17 PM »
I play most of my golf at North Park GC, a muni run by Allegheny County. I've played Stoughton Acres a few times; it's not bad, and for a long time got yearly mentions as one of the best values in the country, as it is only something like $10 to walk 18.

I suspect Greg, Duncan and Brian are correct in their responses as well.

I also suspect there is something I will refer to as the Uppity School District effect as well, which I will delve into tomorrow. I know, you can hardly wait, but you'll have to, I'm calling it a day - printing in 95 degrees is no fun at all.
Big drivers and hot balls are the product of golf course design that rewards the hit one far then hit one high strategy.  Shinny showed everyone how to take care of this whole technology dilemma. - Pat Brockwell, 6/24/04

Adrian_Stiff

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things? New
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2012, 05:13:29 PM »
It is a lot about the climate. In the UK we are lucky we dont really need  irrigation on fairways, you wont be that lucky in the US except in some extreme areas. Irrigation accounts for a lot of the $$$$$ and fungicide treatments because of extreme weather conditions are also expensive, we do get disease but spraying might be minimal to 6 applications limited to greens. Some UK courses can mow tees and fairways once a week, US with higher temperatures is every other day. We might even mow our roughs monthly here and the grass for 6 months hardly grows, greens mowing could even be monthly. All that computes to as few as 3 staff at some and even the top ones might be 7 or 8. If you triplex mow fairways, cut a lot of aprons, lots of tees you can raise the anti here but you are disadvantaged in the US.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2012, 08:55:10 AM by Adrian_Stiff »
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Jason Hines

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2012, 05:29:09 PM »
With this extended forecast for Kansas City, yes:

http://media2.kshb.com/photo/MAP/188828182/188828182_Position1.JPG

Jason


Sean_A

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2012, 07:05:10 PM »
I'll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about golf course maintenance practices or costs. But I do know a little about math and business costs.

Would adopting UK condition standards affect maintenance costs that significantly? Would those cost savings be passed along to the consumer?

Please educate me, or at least try.

George

If anything, UK maintenance practices were moving more toward American style for a few decades.  It is my hope that the powers that be realize this was a bad road to follow. 

Any savings from maintenance would be wasted somewhere else - its the MO of US clubs to waste money because they have money.  Its guys like JakaB walking around talking about how one can't put a price on bringing beauty into one's life which invariably mean costs will go up for one reason or another.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Kalen Braley

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2012, 07:12:07 PM »
It would be interesting to see if $80K per year was a typical maintenance budget in the UK.  If so, that is ridiculously cheap.

I'm pleased they have the ability to do that over there, but I can't imagine any course in the US being able to get anywhere near that figure and have a half way decent golf course.

Mowing greens and fairways once per week?
Mowing rough once per month?
No irrigation costs, other than a few splashes on the greens during the occasional hot spell?

As US politics continue to spin out of control, perhaps its time to make the move overseas!!   ;)

Sean_A

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2012, 07:37:40 PM »
$80,000 is what, 50,000?  Of course its only 9 holes, but still that probably equates to at least 75,000 if it were 18 holes.  That is a seriously tight budget for most for the courses I see.  I highly suspect Kington is probably around that target, but its lean in and lean out. 

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Don_Mahaffey

Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2012, 08:37:40 PM »
I've spent 20+ years on golf courses in the US, and a little over a week on golf courses in the UK. Don't know if that makes my opinion worthwhile, but here it is.
Its more then about maintenance practices. Its about how the game itself is viewed. In the US, we think more, bigger, better is the answer to all our problems. In my very limited time in the UK, it semed to be more about just getting out and playing the game. No driving ranges, no short game/wedge game practice areas, just play the game. Here in the US, we equate good golf with good conditioning on a beautiful course with high levels of service. There, they just play the game. I've read enough to know there is a bit more to it then that, and a fair bit of Americanazation has gone on, but the golfing cultures seem to be very different, and it goes deeper then course conditions.

Having said that, I think I could make a fine living in the US on a nicely designed course cared for on the UK model as long as I had decent demograhics. Manicuring and detail maintenance work is way over-rated.

jeffwarne

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2012, 08:56:19 PM »

 Here in the US, we equate good golf with good conditioning on a beautiful course with high levels of service. There, they just play the game. I've read enough to know there is a bit more to it then that, and a fair bit of Americanazation has gone on, but the golfing cultures seem to be very different, and it goes deeper then course conditions.

Having said that, I think I could make a fine living in the US on a nicely designed course cared for on the UK model as long as I had decent demograhics. Manicuring and detail maintenance work is way over-rated.

+1

Imagine that, they just play the game.......
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Ben Sims

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2012, 09:21:15 PM »
Forgive me for being frustrated at the broken record that is golf surface maintenance in the UK vs. the US.  I understand the attraction.  But instead of comparing actual grass plant health in vastly different climates, how about we make it an actual maintenance efficiency debate and not about agronomy.

--Reduce the amount of attention paid to clear delineation at the margins.  We spend way too much time defining precise lines in the US.

--Reduce bunker numbers and the amount of time spent maintaining them.  Drain them appropriately, and for gosh sakes keep water from getting in bunkers in poor draining soils.

--Bring green speeds into line with like, you know, reality.  Every time I hear Mike Davis talk about green speed I want to vomit.  Watching how the putts rolled to a stop at Castle Stuart on #18 during the playoff between Molinari and Singh was pretty cool.  I truly think speedy greens allow better golfers an easier road to holing putts.  Also, greens at 9-10 on the stimp are exponentially easier to manage then what many clubs are attempting to keep.  Especially in 90 degree summer weather.

Mowing, bunker maintenance, green speeds.  These are the enemies.  And they are universal issues that can be controlled independent of climate throughout the golf world.  
« Last Edit: July 17, 2012, 09:23:26 PM by Ben Sims »

David_Tepper

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #20 on: July 17, 2012, 09:37:58 PM »
As Adrian S. and Brian S. have noted, I don't think you can overestimate the differences in climate between the relatively temperate climate of GB&I and the sometimes extreme climates of various regions of the U.S.

How many days of extreme temperatures (say above 90F or below 20F) do the vast majority of golf courses in GB&I experience over the course of a year? How often do golf courses in GB&I go for 3 or 4 months in a row with virtually no rainfall? How many courses in GB&I sit under 2 or 3 feet of snow for a couple of months in a row over the winter months? How many courses in GB&I are forced to irrigate with reclaimed/recycled water? Conversely, how many courses in the U.S. have had the good fortune to be built on sandy, well draining soil?

My guess is the answer to all of the above questions is "not very many and/or not very often."  

Being a member of Golspie GC in Scotland, a course that is kept in very playable condition by a staff of 2 & 1/2 people, I certainly appreciate (and very much enjoy ;)) the UK approach to golf as a game and the way golf courses are maintained there. I wonder how many courses in the U.S. could be kept in similar playing condition with such a small staff and budget?      
« Last Edit: July 17, 2012, 10:04:13 PM by David_Tepper »

Mac Plumart

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #21 on: July 17, 2012, 09:41:40 PM »
Being a member of Golspie GC in Scotland, a course that is kept in very playable condition by a staff of 2 & 1/2 people, I certainly appreciate (and very much enjoy ) the UK approach to golf as a game and the way golf courses are maintained there. I wonder how many courses in the U.S. could be kept in similar playing condition with such a small staff and budget.

I am interested in knowing that as well.  Does anyone have thoughts regarding this?

For what it is worth, I love threads like this.  Great information, ideas, and education.
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

David_Tepper

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #22 on: July 17, 2012, 10:05:23 PM »
Mac P. -

I am guessing the answer my own question is not very many.

DT

jeffwarne

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #23 on: July 17, 2012, 10:16:37 PM »


--Reduce the amount of attention paid to clear delineation at the margins.  We spend way too much time defining precise lines in the US.

--Reduce bunker numbers and the amount of time spent maintaining them.  Drain them appropriately, and for gosh sakes keep water from getting in bunkers in poor draining soils.

--Bring green speeds into line with like, you know, reality.  Every time I hear Mike Davis talk about green speed I want to vomit.  Watching how the putts rolled to a stop at Castle Stuart on #18 during the playoff between Molinari and Singh was pretty cool.  I truly think speedy greens allow better golfers an easier road to holing putts.  Also, greens at 9-10 on the stimp are exponentially easier to manage then what many clubs are attempting to keep.  Especially in 90 degree summer weather.

Mowing, bunker maintenance, green speeds.  These are the enemies.  And they are universal issues that can be controlled independent of climate throughout the golf world.  

+1

especially on the vomit comment
Nothing like MISleading by example
« Last Edit: July 17, 2012, 10:18:21 PM by jeffwarne »
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Ted Harris

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Re: Would UK maintenance practices really change things?
« Reply #24 on: July 17, 2012, 10:50:35 PM »
George,

Just last week I mentioned to my wife that the UK must have the ugliest white people on the planet, then I watched the John Deere Classic in Peoria, Illinois.  Wow, I owe the people of the UK an apology.

I honestly don't know what UK standards are and say they vary across the country at the same rate as ours.


I went to Pittsburgh once - Wow !!! it sure isn't Austin Texas........... at least Pittsburgh has Oakmont

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