Just because golf course maintenance equipment is past its prime doesn’t mean it needs to be put out to pasture. Used equipment can go toward helping other organizations, particularly those dedicated to growing the game of golf.
Last year, the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla., donated some of its used turf equipment to two entities—the University of Florida turfgrass research program at the Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, and Miami International Links/Melreese Country Club, which supports The First Tee Miami and Dade Amateur Golf Association programs.
“Our board members were very proud to help these organizations, and our membership as a whole felt very good that we were helping our community,” says Juan Gutierrez, Ocean Reef’s Director of Agronomy.
Ocean Reef typically sells its used turf equipment, but the club’s Board supported the idea of donating the machinery after Gutierrez and his team made the suggestion last year.
“That equipment on a resale market has a nominal value, and we thought the return would be manifold by helping introduce people to golf,” notes Jack Duncan, Senior Vice President of Ocean Reef Club.
Gutierrez, who has ties to the two organizations, contacted them to see if they would like to have the equipment.
THE GOAL: Donate turfgrass maintenance equipment that had reached the end of its useful life to community-oriented, nonprofit golf organizations.
THE PLAN: Juan Gutierrez, Director of Agronomy at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla., contacted the University of Florida’s Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center and Miami International Links/Melreese Country Club, which supports The First Tee Miami, to see if they could use the equipment. Gutierrez was familiar with the organizations professionally and as a golfer, and he coordinated with suppliers to deliver the equipment at no charge.
THE PAYOFF: The property was able to give back to the golf community in a way that benefited the nonprofits and will ultimately help grow the game.
“The University of Florida is an intricate part of our success, and as a state school, it helps all of the golf courses in the state,” he explains. “I have played in tournaments at Melreese, and as a former junior golfer, I know how golf helps you develop as an adult.”
Ocean Reef donated two utility vehicles, a turbine blower, two rollers and 13 walk mowers to the organizations. The benefits to the community outweighed the monetary value that the golf course would have received from selling the equipment, Gutierrez says. “Everybody deserves help, and we wanted to give the equipment to the people who would get the biggest benefit from it,” he notes.
Gutierrez coordinated with suppliers to pick up the equipment and deliver it to the Research Center and to Melreese at no charge. From the time he contacted the organizations, it took about two weeks to complete the equipment transfer.
Charlie DeLucca, President of the Dade Amateur Golf Association, was thrilled to receive the equipment.
“It was used equipment, but it was in very good shape,” he reports. “We never would have been able to afford it. We just appreciate it more than anything you could ever imagine.”
The equipment not only helps Melreese maintenance staff keep the golf course in top condition, it has also helped crew members teach First Tee golfers about the business side of the game. “A lot of kids aren’t going to go to college, and some of them might want to work on a golf course one day,” DeLucca explains. “We show them the different jobs that are available. We show them mechanically how everything works, and we show them how to take care of the equipment.”
To address an impediment to efficient golf course maintenance operations that was coming up all too often—superintendents finding an irrigation issue while out on the course, but needing to double back to the maintenance center to collect the appropriate set of keys—the Course & Grounds Department at Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, Va., developed a unified set of keys for service issues that are now kept in each of the club’s four supervisors’ golf carts. In addition to the golf cart key, the set includes keys needed to manually shut off an irrigation head, get into a satellite box, or adjust a residential/commercial head. In addition to the added efficiency, the idea has “reduced extraneous traffic on the course,” the club notes.
n Farmington CC also reports that it is realizing efficiencies and significant savings from an on-site nursery program it has developed throughout its property. “Planting small trees and allowing them to grow until they are needed for key positions provides an instant effect,” the club reports. “[The on-site nursery’s] primary benefit is the ability to install larger trees than budgets would allow.” The trees are added to the landscape throughout Farmington’s property in areas “easily accessible by tree spade,” the club says, and species that are planted include shade trees and small flowering trees, “so we have the shapes and sizes most often needed.” Available trees are inventoried so when needs are identified, the right ones can be selected to best meet the goal of a new planting, be it to enhance the golf course’s design or add to its safety.
The Research Center maintains more than 10 acres of turf, including seashore paspalum and Bermuda grass, and more than an acre of Ultradwarf greens turf, and Gutierrez regularly turns to the institution for soil-sample analysis and other assistance. He was happy to contribute to the center’s success, and its staff was grateful for Ocean Reef’s generosity.
“The ability to provide excellent information to our turf industry is closely tied to how well we can manage turf,” Research and Education Center Professor John Cisar wrote to Gutierrez. “Having good equipment is central to that effort, and the donation of quality greens and tee mowers and utility vehicles will definitely assist our program.”
This was the first time that Ocean Reef, which has a foundation for community outreach and charitable giving, has donated its used equipment. The property received no monetary compensation for the donations, but Gutierrez would like to help the organizations again in the future.
“Everything is not always about revenue,” he says. “When we’re helping the community grow the game of golf, it is ultimately going to help any club or organization. Hopefully, one day young golfers will be successful and want to join a private club.”