Looking after a golf course to keep it in pristine condition so that golfers can enjoy the best golfing experience possible, is no easy task. In this blog, we take a look at the essential equipment needed to keep any golf course in tip-top condition.
Golf course managers and maintenance professionals have to have a wide range of knowledge in order to keep their courses in optimum condition. Golf courses are, of course, a unique facility, creating an artificial outdoor playing environment that blends with nature and appears as natural as possible.
Right from the start, designing a golf course that enables golfers to feel they are part of the natural landscape while they go about their business of getting that little white ball down 9 or 18 holes with the least number of shots, is no easy thing. Nor, of course, is maintaining a golf course so it plays as it should.
Golf courses are quite complex; far too complex for one individual to manage or maintain. Big courses like championship 18-hole courses need a whole team of professionals in order to stay on top of the day-to-day operations. Golfers only tend to see the front-of-house people. The management and maintenance team are the unsung heroes behind the scenes, and what is shown below are the tools of their trade.
Range of Mowing Equipment and Grinders
If you were to ask a golfer about golf course maintenance equipment, the first thing that would come to mind would probably be mowers. But, in order to do the job properly, one type of mower is nowhere near enough. Most respectable golf courses would have a combination of the following:
- Approach mower
- Collar mower
- Fairway mower
- Golf green mower
- Rough mower
- Tee mower
- Triplex mower
- Walk-behind mower
The exact combination of mowers depends on various factors such as the size of the course, the type of grass and the usage.
Of course, constant mowing will make the blades of your mowers blunt. So it is necessary to be able to sharpen your blades regularly. There are various types of grinders available, including reel grinders, bedknife grinders, and rotary blade grinders. Check out the Bernhard website for more details.
Rollers and Aerators
The other thing that most golfers would think of in terms of maintenance equipment would likely be rollers. But the rollers available on the market today are hi-tech machines. Take the Sarel roller, for example. This roller combines two actions in one.
In summer, greens and approaches get sealed through a combination of footfall and dust. The end result is that irrigation water (rainfall or sprinkler irrigation) sits and pools on the sealed surface and evaporates. It doesn’t get a chance to reach the root zone where it is needed.
A Sarel roller has a spiked surface with a brush behind. The brush sweeps the dew into the holes created by the spikes, allowing it to seep down to root level. It also allows any rainfall to drain freely.
In the US, many courses use Tru-Turf rollers, the only rollers that are endorsed by the PGA.
Yes, golf green rolling and turf ironing is a very serious business.
Greens rollers and aeration equipment are must-have pieces of equipment for any self-respecting golf course. The Sarel roller referred to above is a utility combo tool, but there are many specific aeration machines on the market today.
Golf course grass needs growth regulators, liquid fertilisers, and pesticides to nourish and protect it. Some irrigation systems can deliver liquid fertilisers and nutrients, but a high-quality sprayer is also needed.
Tree Cutting Equipment
People tend to think about the fairways and greens when it comes to golf course maintenance, but there are other elements, too, such as the shrubs and trees that are planted around the course periphery to offer privacy and give the course character.
These, too, require regular maintenance. If you are not going to employ the services of a tree surgeon, which admittedly can be rather expensive, you'll need your own equipment. Typical tools you will need include things like chain saws and loopers.
Special Utility Vehicles
A lot of the machinery we have discussed above is far too heavy to move by hand, so you will need some sort of utility vehicle. It's not only a good idea from a health and safety point of view to avoid injury; it's a good investment from the time-saving angle.
Miscellaneous Hand Tools
In addition to the main maintenance tasks that need doing on the course, there are lots of other incidental things that need doing too – things that require small hand tools. We are talking about the likes of:
- Hedge trimmers
- Measuring tools
- Metal detectors
- Spades or shovels
To do a comprehensive job of maintenance, all of these things may be needed. But that’s not all. We’ve left the most important thing till last.
Golf Course Irrigation
The one essential that every golf course must have is an efficient irrigation system. In essence, a golf irrigation system is a simple mechanism. You need a source of water, a reservoir or a storage tank with a pump to pressurise a system of pipes, at the end of which are a number of sprinklers.
You must also incorporate a control system to program and manage the on/off switching and how much water is applied. The last 20 years have seen significant technological development, using AI, the web, the Cloud, and mobile remote communication.
Sensors can measure moisture levels. information can be gathered from the internet on local weather forecasts and conditions, and these new systems can regulate themselves under the watchful eyes of the course management team.
These latest systems not only take better care of the courses themselves; they also significantly improve water use efficiency, cut down usage and reduce water bills. We are talking about improving water efficiency by as much as 30 to 40%.
It’s Not All About Equipment
But it's not all about equipment, important though it might be. Without the proper quality management and maintenance team in place, the equipment is not going to run itself. So, let's save our last thought for that most important element of all - that competent, professional, human touch.