Maintenance Facility

Thoughts in establishing a new maintenance facility

(Golf Club Secretary, September, 2005)

Many golf courses have given scant attention to the maintenance facility – it has either been deferred or abandoned for the meantime. On the property it is a local point on which everything that happens on the golf course depends. With the integration of management, personnel, equipment and materials all contributing to the most beneficial output, the planning of the facility is of vital importance.

Essentially no one can judge the outcome of a design better than the people who are going to use it, namely the greenkeeping staff – and they should be consulted. If the greenkeeping staff of six or thereabouts is responsible for the daily preparation of the course, it is logical that they should have an inner motivation. To achieve this, resources must be adequate. The following are some key points and thoughts, often missed by architects, which contribute to the cost-effective running of the facility.

1. The Building

Many current buildings are of the ‘hangar’ type with much overhead wasted space, costly to build and difficult to subdivide. It is my opinion that ‘stable unit’ type buildings offer a more practical and cost effective solution. Located around a central concrete court yard they offer privacy, protection from the elements, extra enclosed and safe storage space and easy access to any number of sub-divided units. Actual covered space can be reduced and with only the required depth to the building units, equipment and materials can be stored with minimum disturbance. This is not the case with the large hangar shed which soon clutters up and does not allow access to many items without undue moving of materials and equipment – unless the building is large enough to ensure there is much open space for access and removal routes.

2. Staff Quarters

The minimum requirements are a mess room, clothes drying room, washroom facilities, discussion room and office. Skimping on the mess room and the associated facilities strains the morale of staff. Comfortable facilities for storing and drying clothes as well as adequate showers, lavatories and wash-up facilities are equally important.

The office must be sufficient in size to accommodate all the reasonable requirements needed to satisfactorily manage the operation. Today, the presence of a computer is vital for communication with club management, suppliers and internet information – as well as for the proper recording and planning of golf course operations. Primarily, the office must be a place where the course manager can comfortably isolate himself in planning and discussion with visitors. Allied to this facility is a room for discussion. With the need for staff meetings and planning with contractors and authorities, there should be adequate and comfortable space for a large table and chairs in a cordial surrounding.

3. Storage

Safe storage is now a vital concern in the maintenance facility. Strict restrictions apply in the handling of pesticides and fertilisers should be easily accessible in dry cool surroundings. The storage of tools can become a nightmare and the way management handles this single factor often indicates how the golf course as a whole is run. Allocated space should be adequate. This simple erection of a steel mesh ‘cage’ can serve as a practical means in housing many loose items of tools, course furniture and fittings.

In the stable type designed facility independent separate units are all easily accessible from the central courtyard and there should be no need for any disturbance of stored materials and equipment. Responsibility for access to these units can also be better controlled.

Some equipment is used daily, some within short intervals and some infrequently. Easy access to daily used equipment must be essential – and this should avoid having to move other items out of the way first. With the stable type buildings minimum disturbance is possible when the depth of the building has been designed to accommodate equipment in accordance with the need for their regular or irregular use. Storing specialised equipment in allocated space results in a more orderly system where better control is possible.

4. Workshop and wash-down area

This area is often makeshift and consists of little more than a cluttered work bench. Today with specialised equipment costing little less than £10000 per unit the adequate care and attention to these items is an essential consideration. Besides adequate working space, there must be sufficient benched area and space for filing and recording. Hoists for lifting equipment are an enforced requirement in terms of health and safety but all the activities in the workshop area must be designed in a way as to reduce the risks of injury to the minimum.

Health and safety regulations are now strict on the cleaning of equipment. Separator tanks are mandatory in separating oils and greases from effluent water. Furthermore, there is the pre-washing need to remove grass cuttings and debris before proper cleaning. The accumulation of this material quickly becomes a health hazard and the days of directing it into the undergrowth are gone. Current technology has made it possible to combine pre-cleaning wash-down with pressure washing in specialised units. Some systems also incorporate bacterial breakdown of organic waste. With the value of equipment these special provisions are worth considering.

5. Outside storage, vehicles and car parking

In keeping with the aim to retain as pleasant surrounding as possible to the maintenance facility there must be much thought in the planning of the requirements. The storage of aggregate, root zone material deserves a special facility and ideally should be covered with at least lean-to roofing. Concrete or tarmac access routing is essential for heavy trucks in wet weather. The provision of adequate turning space for articulated trucks is a main consideration in the delivery of materials and equipment. In addition, the safe storage of staff cars and outside stored machinery requires significant space and warrants sufficient protection. The planning of routing to the maintenance facility is also an important feature in the layout and its effect on the golf course – though this routing has often been pre-destined with the course layout.

Finally, the well planned maintenance facility can bring order and control in managing resources on the golf course. Its adequacy can boost or hinder the morale of the working staff. Furthermore, as a focal point it can become a facility that retains a degree of attraction and function while still being pleasant when viewed from the golf course.

Gordon Jaaback

July 2005