This Article Originally ran about 2 years ago, there have been alot of changes in technology since then and it was worth revisiting using these new tools!

Over the past 5 years I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked by a club official, “how can I lower my expenses at my club without sacrificing quality”? More often times than not, my response to that question is “are you efficient in all aspects of your operation and is that communicated that to you by your golf course superintendent”?     While I know that this is answering a question with another question, it makes the club official realize that they may not have all the answers.

   I came across an interesting article a while back called “Is it time to Re-think Maintenance Budgets”? What I can tell you about that article is that it touches on many areas of a maintenance operation, of which, the most significant area that states: “So, what can a golf course Owner/Manager or Board of Directors do to control costs?”

  • Become more knowledgeable about basic maintenance practices. Without some basic information, it is exceedingly difficult to ask the right questions of the superintendent.
  • Ask for alternatives. There are usually more than one method or piece of equipment for specific tasks.
  • Using Electronic Time Clock Systems, including bio scanners, to ensure proper clocking in and clocking out.
  • Bio Scanners confirm correct employees and log temperatures in a touchless environment for employee health and safety while also preventing Time Card fraud.
  • Demand Time Study information.

The last part of this I find interesting as it relates to “Demand Time Study information”, which is a short way of saying that you want an efficiency study or a time and motion study on labor. I understand that most committee’s at a club are volunteers and that the vast majority of club officials may have very little knowledge of the maintenance department or know where to start. Since labor usually makes up 50% or more of a maintenance budget (have seen municipal operations at 80%), I would think that this is the best area to get more information on.  The simplest way to understand this is to:

1) have a good understanding of the jobs that are performed on the course;

2) understand the hours (I call them man-hours) it takes to do the jobs or tasks;

3) know the frequency that the tasks are accomplished or scheduled to be accomplished.

For example: The greens at the club are mowed 7 days a week and it takes 4 hours to mow (either one person at 4 hours or two people at 2 hours) and this is accomplished 52 weeks a year; tees are mowed 3 days a week and it takes 6 hours to mow; and fairways are mowed 3 days a week and it takes two people 6 hours to mow them.

Mowing Greens- 4 hours X 7 days/week X 52 weeks/year = 1,456 hours Mowing tees- 6 hours X 3 days per week X 52 weeks/year = 936 hours
Mow fairways- 6 hours X 2 people X 3 days/week X 52 weeks/year = 1872 hours

A FTE (full time equivalent) is a person working 40 hours per week for 52 weeks which equates to 2080 hours. In the example above, just performing these three tasks would equate to a staff of 2 FTE (4264 hours / 2080 = 2.05). When you add all the other tasks such as raking bunkers, mowing rough, changing cups, edging cart paths, etc., etc., you will build your labor requirements accordingly.

While I can go on about how other costs can be curtailed, understanding the labor model is a good way to get a handle on an area that can be managed and controlled if you understand all aspects of the operation.

If you would like more information or a sample “Man-hour” time and motion study, just send me a note and I will be more than happy to send it to you.

Scott Zakany, CGCS