The Golfdom Files: A $16K maintenance budget

By |  June 7, 2022 0 Comments

Golfdom’s September 1927 issue looks at the tug and pull between superintendents and greens committees when setting maintenance estimates.

“Because the average greens committee does not know the amount of work required to keep a golf course in good condition, most of the estimates of annual maintenance costs are too low,” the author, who uses the nom de plume “Mac,” writes.

Photo: Golfdom Staff

Photo: Golfdom Staff

While the numbers may have changed between 1927 to today, the need to look at how the course plans to spend its money on labor, machinery and inputs haven’t.

“I have seen a case where $23,000 has been spent on upkeep that I would consider expensive at $5,000,” the author writes. “In my opinion, a good greenkeeper can keep an 18-hole course of good design in first-class condition on a budget from $16,000 to $18,000 a year, barring extra work that is really a capital expense.”

Modern machinery such as compost mixers helped the author reduce the amount of labor needed on the course.

“When a lot of greens committees realize that they can spend for up-to-date equipment and stand a very good chance of quickly saving its cost in reduction of labor charges, the greenkeepers’ work is going to be easier and better,” the author writes.

Here is what the author considered a reasonable budget:

Labor: $11,500
Sand, gas, oil, repairs, etc.: $2,500
Machinery: $1,500
Seed and fertilizer: $1,000
Weeding: $1,000

“I have been connected with four clubs in this country since coming from Scotland. Not any of them have spent more than $16,000 a year for upkeep, and their courses were kept in good shape,” Mac states. “My course right now is one of the best in the district (the south central), and my budget is $15,750 a year. This is my first season at my club. The course was not in the best condition when I took it over, and there are still a few things that need improving, but they will have to be worked up gradually as time and the budget permit. My members say they have never saw the course looking so good and so well trimmed up, and visitors from some of the country’s foremost courses complement its condition, so I have every reason to believe that my budget is a reasonable one.”

Other articles in the issue include “Black Hawk’s green making and maintenance methods,” by J.S. Bone, the superintendent of the Madison, Wis., course; “Unconsidered trifles of a golf course,” by Fred Sherwood, superintendent at Northmoor CC in the Chicagoland and “They found where they stood — and raised prices,” by H.J. Reinoll, manager of San Diego CC.

To read the entire issue, visit the Golfdom Digital Archive

This article is tagged with and posted in From the Magazine

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