A Heatwole Golf Design blog about all things golf

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Planning for Success

In these difficult economic times, how do you protect your investment while minimizing the cost impact to your member/players?

Times are tough, no doubt about it. And just like other businesses, golf courses are faced with major decisions as they move forward. One example I see time and time again is the delicate balancing act of maintaining a top-notch golf course while remaining sensitive to members’ financial situations. The development of a thorough Master Plan is a good way to prioritize and balance your immediate needs with your long term goals.

A Master Plan is a golf course’s road map to guide it through the tough times. But how do you determine what action to take?
  • Look internally to determine priorities:  The Course Superintendent, Head Pro, or Greens      Chairman  are all excellent resources in determining which area(s) of the golf course need to be addressed immediately. 
  • Get an external voice:  Having a Golf Course Architect to assist in determining the priority areas lends additional credibility. In many cases, getting the opinion of someone who isn’t on the golf course daily can add some new insight to the decision-making process.
  • Survey members/players:  What better way to ascertain the areas that need improvement than by asking those who play the golf course? As the suggestions come back, compile the data and see what generates the most criticism as well as the aspects of the course they most enjoy.
With a Master Plan, you can look to see how minor improvements fit into your long range plans. Combined with a player survey, you can choose to do work on an aspect of the course that will please the membership, while working towards your ultimate goals.

For example, let’s say that your members would like to see something done with a particular bunker. Well, if your Master Plan also calls for fairway drainage improvements nearby, these 2 projects can be handled in conjunction; saving you time and money! This will minimize your overall disruption of play, while providing members with the visual and playability improvements they desire.

If your golf course requires long term investment, it is a much easier sell to the membership if you keep their immediate interests in mind and resolve issues that they perceive as priorities while planning and budgeting for the larger scale more costly projects down the road.