Update From The Superintendent: Projects, Tee Leveling, Needs And Abilities
As we continue to address the long list of projects and improvements that our aging golf courses require, I have heard comments and criticism about how some of these projects and improvements were accomplished and how they could have been done with our existing staff and equipment.
One project in particular is the leveling and enlarging of several tee boxes this past summer. Leveling tee boxes is a very common practice for golf courses. Some golf courses do it every four or five years others do it less frequently. The decision to level and enlarge tee boxes is based on need, wear, and funding. This is discussed in detail by the Greens and Grounds committee and Board of Directors. Once a tee box meets the criteria and approval for renovation we determine the cost by obtaining bids from a few local golf course shapers. Why hire a shaper when we own tractors and have employees? Because we do not own tractors designed for this kind of work nor do we have qualified and experienced shapers on staff. An experienced golf course shaper will earn between $30 and $40 hr. That is three times the wages we pay any of our employees. Any golf course architect will tell you that the shaper is his “hands”. The shaper takes the architects plans and ideas and shapes the earth and soil accordingly. This requires a very unique set of skills and eye for detail not to mention years of experience. Hardly a job for someone that only mows grass.
When I had the privilege of working around Tom Weiskopf and Scott Miller I frequently attended their construction staff meetings, and it was very apparent how valuable the shapers were to the architects. Some golf course architects will only use a particular person to shape for them. This shows how much confidence they have in that one individual and how skillful that shaper is
Now I understand that the work done here is not as complicated as building and shaping a new golf course. But you can rest assured that we are not going to put a bunch of inexperienced individuals to do these projects with equipment that is not designed for these particular projects just to do it inexpensively.
Caterpillars and dump trucks are typically used in building and renovating a golf course. This includes leveling tee boxes. We own neither.
A laser leveling scraper is what professional shapers use for leveling. We do not own or operate one.
Sod stripping machines remove large amounts of sod quickly. This is done prior to moving earth. Another piece of equipment we do not own.
On bigger tee boxes large rolls of sod are brought in and mechanically installed by the sod company. With these large rolls this tee box was sodded in 2 hours. It would have taken our staff three days and no attention to the golf course to complete this with conventional rolls.
Backend of the VIstas Range after using large sod rolls.
While our tees were being renovated this past summer our Golf Course Maintenance Team was installing greenside sprinklers at the Vistas GC for better irrigation control and water savings. Adding greenside sprinklers was a much more practical job for our staff than shaping tee boxes. The original plan was for the club to subcontract the greenside irrigation project to a cost of $110K. After numerous meetings between the Board and me we figured that by doing the irrigation project in house we could save the club close to $70K. When we saw what we would save it was then decided by the Board and me that we can professionally level the tee boxes that needed to be done and still come out $30K ahead.
All in all I believe the club came out ahead in doing these projects as they were done.
With that been said I hope everyone has a safe and happy season.
David Escobedo, GCS