2020 is the year that just won’t quit…

COVID-19, economic distress, closed golf facilities, murder hornets, record heat, drought, floods, hurricanes, no sports, social unrest, wildfires, homeschooling, and an election year. To say the least, 2020 has been a train wreck, and it is not quite over. So…what’s next?

Who knows what the closing months of the year will bring, but what I do know is that golf course maintenance expectations aren’t going to change going into 2021. So, what do you do between now and then?

First off, be sure to take the necessary time away from the hustle and bustle of your course. Plan some time for yourself and your family to recharge before the craziness of spring sneaks up on you before you know it. Second, plan…plan…plan and communicate…communicate…communicate. There may not be anything more important than taking the time to organize and develop strategies for the upcoming season. Look back at 2020, what have you learned from your situation, what would you do differently next season? 2020 has created different issues for every course, some negative, some positive. If your course has struggled through Covid-19, those issues may be completely different than a facility that has seen record-breaking rounds and revenue. Either way, what you do in the offseason can affect your outcome for 2021.

Develop agronomic programs beginning this fall. Assess deficiencies by using soil reports to communicate issues with committees or owners. Develop programs to quickly and effectively renovate or improve turf that may have been damaged from the hard year. Communicate those programs and document the improvements as they are occurring to your decision-makers, so they know you are on the track to improvement. Assess your staff, how and where can you be more efficient, how and where do you need more staff? When looking at the efficiency of staffing, tie your conversation to equipment. Are there pieces of equipment that will improve the course and reduce labor? This may be a way to “do more with less” (like you haven’t heard that before). Again, use data to your favor and communicate your situation up the ladder. Many times, we seem to ask for new equipment simply because it is “needed.” Taking the time to put dollars and cents on the “why” is a really effective way to state your case. Don’t just say it saves time or money, put it in a spreadsheet, and document exactly what it is saving or accomplishing. Get involved in the purchase as well. What do I mean by that? Ask your sales rep for financing or lease options and be able to explain it to your powers that be. Oftentimes, your facility may have a preferred lender that they may want to use, and you may never use the financing company of the vendor. However, 9 out of 10 times, your GM or chairman will be asked about financing. You have taken a step to make their job easier from the start, and they are able to discuss actual costs per month, etc., and not have to spend their time doing the work.

This is also a great time to look hard at the early order programs (EOP). Take the time to map out your entire 2021 Agronomic Calendar to take full advantage of fall savings. It will be more important than ever to communicate how and why these programs are beneficial. Be specific when discussing savings. Take the time to calculate out how your rebates, upfront savings, and or terms benefit your facility.  Also, in conjunction with that, have a strategic plan on how you may use those savings in your department and improve the course in 2021 that may not “cost” the course any more money than you spent in 2020.

I can continue to give examples, but I think you see my point. More than ever, planning and communication, maybe the most important item you do this fall. Whether you are cutting back or looking to spend more, plan, and communicate. Aerification, fall projects, irrigation blowout, are all the rage in the fall, try to delegate some of that and spend some quality time in the office planning!