Input from superintendents is invaluable for designing and operating safe, efficient, state-of-the-art golf course maintenance facilities.
Golf course superintendents and their maintenance staffs spend the bulk of their days out on the grounds, to make course conditions and other parts of the property that fall under their responsibility are as pristine as possible.
But the condition and utility of the place where they start and end their days—the golf course maintenance facility—makes a significant contribution to golf course playability as well. With modern, state-of-the-art golf course maintenance facilities, properties can enhance the capabilities of their maintenance departments to take the best care possible of what is arguably a club’s most important asset.
Including the Essentials
From entirely new buildings to additions for existing facilities, golf course properties are infusing capital into course maintenance facility projects.
The golf course maintenance staff at Ballyhack Golf Club in Roanoke, Va., moved into a new 7,500-sq. ft. maintenance building (pictured above) in mid-January. Construction on the $1.2 million project began in March 2018, and the project was largely complete by April of 2019. The maintenance area also includes outdoor storage and storage bins for bulk items.
“We’re still wrapping up a few things,” says Golf Course Superintendent Steven Ball.
The golf course was built in 2009 on the site of a former dairy farm, and until the new building was finished, the maintenance staff operated out of an old barn, which had no heat, air conditioning, or running water.
Needless to say, the new accommodations have been a vast improvement.
Now, 90 percent of Ballyhack’s equipment, except for a handful of tractors, is stored indoors. The equipment storage area includes epoxy flooring, which allows for durability to withstand heavy, continuous traffic and resistance to oil stains and water. In addition, the surface is easy to clean and requires minimal maintenance.With the completion of the new building, the property owners also purchased more equipment, totaling $1.1 million, for the maintenance staff. This additional equipment is the reason that all of it is not stored indoors, notes Ball.
Administrative space includes offices for Ball and Equipment Manager Tim Meador, and another office that two assistant superintendents share. The offices also have TVs where job assignments can be displayed.
Storage cabinets for flammable materials are located in the equipment manager’s bay and outside near the gas tanks, and chemicals are kept in a dedicated area of the building as well.
Meador has ample work space, which includes a climate-controlled shop, storage for parts and tools, a lift, and bedknife- and reel-grinding areas.
Additional upgrades to Ballyhack’s new maintenance complex are planned for the off-season, including the installation of plumbing to outside storage areas, so staff members can fill up their sprayers under a roofed area. The property also plans to enclose the roofed area where fertilizer pallets and some equipment are stored. Shelving will be added to the equipment storage area, and more landscaping will be planted as well.
A new, 18,028-sq. ft. Turf Care Center was completed at Belle Meade Country Club in Nashville, Tenn., in December 2016, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the move by the property, which was founded in 1901, to its present 165-acre site in 1916. The new center, which includes three separate buildings, replaced a 6,680-sq.-ft. maintenance facility that was built in 1964.“We were in an old, antiquated building,” says Golf Course Superintendent Doug Ward. “We didn’t have the amenities and necessities we needed to run a modern golf course operation.”
The previous facility lacked technology features, and Ward’s office was the only climate-controlled spot in the building. In addition, the maintenance department had to store 40 to 50 percent of its equipment outside.
“We had a lot of expensive equipment that wasn’t being taken care of properly,” notes Ward. “We have space to store all of our equipment under a roof now.”
Belle Meade’s new Building 1, at 6,420-sq. ft., features administrative offices, equipment maintenance and repair operations, a conference room, lockers, and a breakroom. The building includes an office for Ward, an office that his two assistants share, and an office for the landscape superintendent.
The equipment manager’s space, which doubled in size, includes an office, a storage area for parts, a separate grinding room, two lifts, and lockable storage space. In the previous building, parts were stored in bins along a wall.
The building also includes a mud room with a washer and dryer, and space for crew members to store raingear.
At 9,100 sq. ft., Building 2 is the largest of the three structures. It includes 8,330 sq. ft. for equipment storage, as well as additional space for cold storage and storage of landscaping and power tools, irrigation parts, and golf course accessories.
Building 3, a 2,508-sq.-ft. chemical storage and handing facility, facilitates the proper storage and safe handling of all chemicals used in maintaining the golf course and other parts of the Belle Meade property. The facility, which includes spray/mixer/loading areas, also provides for proper disposal of pesticides, along with other procedures regulated by the Environmental Protection Authority.
The self-contained chemical storage building was constructed to meet state regulations and OSHA requirements. “It’s important to have an individual storage area with proper ventilation,” says Ward.
The eco-friendly turfgrass equipment wash station is a stand-alone, totally closed-loop, wash-water biological treatment and recycling system. A clipping separator removes grass clippings, sand and other small debris from the wash water prior to the recycling process. The gas pumps and fueling station are located in this area as well.
As another sustainable feature, all surface water flows into one of the five bioretention areas that the Turf Care Center has on site. As landscaping features on the property, these sites are adapted to treat stormwater runoff and to remove contaminants and sedimentation. The filtered runoff water is collected in a perforated underdrain system that flows into Richland Creek.
Before the new Turf Care Center was constructed, the maintenance staff also built a bulk storage area with three covered bins, to store soil, topdressing materials, and other items.
Although living quarters for interns or other temporary workers originally were part of the plan, Ward says local ordinances prohibited their construction.
In a six-month, $575,000 project in 2013, The Country Club at Castle Pines in Castle Rock, Colo., built an 8,000-sq.-ft. addition to its 4,000-sq. ft. golf course maintenance facility. The new building is a separate structure that runs parallel to the original maintenance facility, and a courtyard sits between the two buildings.“We needed to get our equipment inside out of the elements and to pave the parking lot,” says Golf Course Superintendent Sean McCue. “The most important thing is to have enough space to house all of the equipment inside, to protect the club’s investment in the equipment.”
In addition to equipment storage space, the addition also includes a 1,500-sq.-ft. section for fertilizer and seed storage.
The original building features three offices —one for McCue, one for his two assistants, and one for the department’s two equipment technicians. There is also a breakroom, equipment repair space, and a cold storage area, which is connected to the building, for additional equipment storage space.
To prevent spills and leaks from traveling off-site, chemicals are stored in a dedicated, contained part of the original building. The maintenance department has two sand bins for bulk storage.
The original 27-year-old building has received upgrades as well, to make it more functional. Office space has been realigned, and the breakroom has been improved with the addition of new cabinets, multiple microwaves, and a soda-fountain machine.
In 2013 Navesink Country Club in Red Bank, N.J., replaced its existing golf course maintenance building with a new facility.
Features of the building include the superintendent’s office; the assistant superintendent’s office; a boardroom; a large breakroom; a large locker area with a washer and dryer; two showers; three rooms to house interns or other temporary employees; a pesticide mix area; an equipment manager’s shop; a chemical storage area, which is adjacent to the two 80-gallon mixing stations; a large bulk storage area for granular fertilizers, seed, and large equipment such as tractors and loaders; and another storage area for smaller pieces of equipment, such as golf cars, fairway mowers, and hand tools.
“Overall, our equipment is stored inside,” says Director of Golf Course and Grounds Josh Conner.
The wash pad features a carb control system, where a charcoal-like substance acts as a filter to clean the water to be recycled.
Interns are housed in the Navesink maintenance facility primarily during the summer. “If other departments hire someone out of the area, they will stay there until they find their own place,” Conner notes.
The facility also includes a secondary restroom that golfers use while they’re on the course, and this arrangement has benefitted the Navesink maintenance staff.
“When the golfers come in, they can see and develop a better understanding of what’s going on in our department,” Conner explains.
Flow and Functionality
Typically, there is plenty going on in any golf course maintenance operation, so a new building alone isn’t enough to meet department demands. The facility also has to flow so that the staff can carry out its duties with efficiency.
To do so, maintenance facilities must have adequate storage space for equipment and other tools of the trade, adhere to safety needs, and keep traffic flowing smoothly with a functional building layout.
As a result, superintendent input is a vital component of any golf course maintenance facility construction project. Of course, the expertise of other professionals is invaluable as well.
During the planning process at Ballyhack Golf Club, the property owners worked from several different templates, and hired a company that had built similar facilities to oversee the project.
“My primary role was to make sure our technology was up-to-date and everything was set up how we needed it to be, so our storage would be efficient and the flow of the building would work well,” says Ball, who was on site during construction almost every day.
So far, so good, apparently.
“We can get all of our equipment hooked up and out on the golf course in 10 minutes, and that’s with 20 people on staff,” notes Ball. “It has increased our efficiency more than I could have imagined. Each individual is saving 30 minutes by having an efficient building.”
When they return their equipment to the shop, Ballyhack’s crew members must first pass by dumpsters where they can dispose of waste, before they continue on to the wash, fuel, and parking area. The wash area also includes a sand/oil separator, which is similar to a septic tank and will be pumped out annually.
“We’ve set everything up so it’s super-efficient,” Ball says.
The new facility has also helped the staff maintain its equipment at a higher level. “The quality of cut on our cutting units is better when they’re stored inside,” Ball says. “And our course conditions are better.”
Ward helped to come up with the design for Belle Meade’s new Turf Care Center, but the property also went to a consultant group for help. “That’s money well-spent,” he says. “And it’s a good idea to have an architect.”
He recommends finding a consultant that works on large community buildings and knows the basic requirements of those types of structures. Ward also toured other facilities before construction of the Belle Meade maintenance building got underway.
“We knew what we wanted, but it’s like building a house,” he says. “It’s nice to have an architect help you cover all the bases and make sure you don’t leave anything out.”
The architect helped with the general layout of the building and the configuration for the site plan. In addition, Ward says, “The architect helped us choose the correct door sizes and lighting features. They may have been overlooked.”
To maximize the efficiency of the layout and the productivity of the grounds crew, the property enhanced the truck and vehicle flow around the facility. “We spaced it out to give a wide berth to it,” notes Ward.
The consulting group sought collaboration from the Belle Meade maintenance staff as well. “I involved all of my crew, and my administrative staff had feedback in the initial design,” reports Ward.
At The Country Club at Castle Pines, McCue says, “I was heavily involved in the design, layout, and location of the new building.”
Serving as the owner’s representative during the construction project, he was on site every day, to make sure that plans were being followed and the budget stayed on track.
McCue also visited other properties and turned to online resources for ideas and recommendations. “It’s good to speak to other people who have done similar projects at their courses, to get their ideas about what and what not to do,” he says.
To maximize the efficiency of Castle Pines’ maintenance shop addition, McCue, who has been at Castle Pines for 24 years, “played around” with layouts beforehand, to make sure the building would be sized adequately to house the equipment fleet. “It’s extremely important to have it flow correctly, so you can have equipment going in and out from multiple exits without creating any bottlenecks,” he says.
In addition, the club needed to make sure that the door and ceiling heights could accommodate oversized pieces of equipment. The design also had to configure individual sections within the new building, to determine which pieces of equipment would fit in which areas. The doors to get in the smaller equipment areas are 12 feet, and 15-foot doors lead into the areas where heavier pieces of equipment are stored.
Since the addition was completed, McCue says, “There has been a significant difference in the appearance of the equipment. The staff takes more pride in the equipment, because it looks like it’s new all the time.”
In addition, the property hasn’t had to replace equipment seats as frequently, and belts don’t wear out prematurely.
“The facility as a whole is much cleaner since we’ve eliminated the dirt parking lot,” McCue adds.
All of the Castle Pines equipment is serviced in the maintenance workshop. The equipment technician can keep track of his parts inventory in his office, and he stocks high-volume replacement parts in a dedicated room.
Conner, who has been at Navesink for five months, inherited his maintenance facility. However, he says thankfully, “They did a phenomenal job when they laid out their design.”
The two-story, horseshoe-shaped building is sunk into the ground. The top floor includes the offices, breakroom, locker room, and the housing for interns.
On the lower story, the equipment storage area is on one side, the small equipment storage area is on the other side, and the equipment technician’s area is in the middle.
The equipment maintenance and repair area includes two in-ground lifts and a large lift for big machines. This space also includes an office, a parts storage room, and a grinder room.
Benefits of New or Upgraded Maintenance Facilities
• Increased staff morale, pride and productivity
• Provides a safe, efficient and desirable workplace
• Decrease in accidents, and lower insurance rates
• Offers opportunities to hire and retain better employees
• Allows for better supervision, better quality of work, and better course conditions
• Protects investments by extending the life of equipment
• Improves inventory control
• Promotes compliance with environmental requirements