Why It Pays To Be Adequately Staffed... In The Winter February 27, 2015

Why It Pays To Be Adequately Staffed... In The Winter

By Ty McClellan, Agronomist
September 5, 2008

It is just after Labor Day so why are we even talking about winter? During difficult economic times, golf courses are looking into ways to reduce costs wherever possible, and the budget axe tends to first swing in the direction of the operating budget. The latter generally pertains to labor, particularly full-time staff employed through the winter. Regardless of the budget cycle, now is a great time to communicate with course officials on the value of winter staff and what can be achieved during this time. It is unfortunate that few course officials understand even a fraction of the scope of activities performed during winter months, or the potential for those that could be. Simply because there is snow is on the ground (or frigid conditions in the absence of snow) do not be fooled as there are still many day-to-day responsibilities, especially if winter play is allowed. Some more common duties include:

  • Servicing equipment and preventative maintenance
  • Painting and refurbishing golf course accessories
  • Winter play setup duties
  • Snow removal from roads and parking lots
  • Landscaping and clean-up, particularly after winter storm damage
  • Monitoring course conditions, especially for greens with Poa annua
  • Winter fungicide applications
  • Winter weed control

Along these same lines, few know that it is during the offseason, as it is commonly referred, that the biggest gains from one year to the next are best achieved, but only if there are enough resources and staff to do so. Course improvements oftentimes demand significant time, labor, and occasionally large equipment, all of which result in varying degrees of course disruption. As such, winter is a great time to do such projects because disruption to play can be minimized. Furthermore, many projects can be performed in-house, which can result in tremendous cost savings. Just a few winter projects include:

  • Annual equipment repair
  • Mower blade sharpening and reel grinding
  • Tree maintenance
  • Drainage and irrigation improvements
  • Tee leveling
  • Cart path repair
  • Maintenance facility improvements
  • Sprucing up the pump house, rest stations and other small buildings

Winter staffing depends on many variables and is specific to each facility. Remember, course conditioning and preparation for the golfing season really begins in the winter. As one can see, there are plenty of reasons why it pays to be adequately staffed through the winter. To this end, look for a future article in an upcoming Green Section Record magazine discussing this topic in greater detail.

If you would like more information about a Turf Advisory Service visit, do not hesitate to contact either of the Mid-Continent regional offices: Ty McClellan at or (630) 340-5853 or Bud White at or (972) 662-1138.