Global Edition

The life cycle of a bunker, etc

8.10am 5th April 2006 - Management Topics

With more golf courses considering renovation, golf course decision makers need to think carefully about the recurring costs of their infrastructure, says Tom Marzolf, president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA).
“Golf Courses evolve, in a sense live and breathe, so course managers are wise to consider the ‘life cycle’ of their golf course, paying particular attention to recurring costs of items like irrigation, drainage and bunker sand,” explains Marzolf. “These items have specific life expectancies, which enables managers to plan ahead. Doing so improves the golf course and can even save money in the long run, especially if it’s done in the context of long-range master-planning.
“Golf clubs have responded to competitive pressure in the market place, changes in clientele and technological advances, and successful golf course managers have elected to remodel their facilities,” he continues. “However, as they examine these issues they also need to consider the functionality of the layout: how water drains, bunkers perform and cart paths hold up are essential to the long-term success of a golf facility.”
Marzolf noted that ASGCA offers a brochure “Master Planning: Questions and Answers” that can help golf course managers, professionals and owners assess the typical life expectancies of golf course components.
A chart listing golf course components and their expected life cycles is available from ASGCA. The chart can help clubs plan for both capital expenditures and interruption in play caused by course component maintenance and replacement.
“This list of golf course components – from tee boxes and greens to cart paths and irrigation systems – and their life expectancies can help golf courses avoid unexpected expenses and course closures by knowing how long components typically last,” explains Tom Marzolf. “The process is similar to scheduled maintenance on our cars. We know oil needs to be changed every 3,000 miles to keep the engine running smoothly. The same thinking should be applied to golf course components by planning for maintenance and replacement.”
The chart, compiled by ASGCA and reviewed by seven of the other Allied Associations of Golf (CMAA, GCBAA, GCSAA, NGCOA, NGF, PGA and USGA), is particularly important for long-term planning. Marzolf recommends that clubs prepare master plans that look at budgeting over the long term in order to smooth operations and ensure consistency, even when new boards are appointed or ownership changes.
The chart was launched at the 2006 Golf Industry Show and was well-received by superintendents, club managers and owners. The one-page chart may be obtained by calling ASGCA at 262/ 786-5960, emailing, or writing to ASGCA, 125 N. Executive Drive, Suite 106, Brookfield, WI 53005.
For the convenience of GBN readers the main points on the chart are summarised below:

Golf course items – Expected Life Cycle
How long should parts of the golf course last?
NB Component life spans can vary depending upon location of the golf course, quality of materials, original installation and past maintenance practices.

Greens ¹    15 – 30 years
Bunker sand    5 – 7 years
Irrigation System   10 – 30 years
 Irrigation control system 10 – 15 years
 PVC pipe (under pressure) 10 – 30 years
 Pump station   15 – 20 years
Cart paths ² – asphalt   5 – 10 years +
Cart paths – concrete   15 – 30 years
Practice Range Tees   5 – 10 years
Tees     15 – 20 years
Corrugated metal pipes  15 – 30 years
Bunker drainage pipes ³  5 – 10 years
Mulch     1 – 3 years

¹ Several factors can weigh into the decision to replace greens: accumulation of layers on the surface of the original construction, the desire to convert to new grasses and response to changes in the game from an architectural standpoint (like the interaction between green speed and hole locations)
² Assumes on-going maintenance beginning 1-2 years after installation
³ Typically replaced because the sand is being changed – while the machinery is there to change sand, it’s often a good time to replace the drainage pipes as well


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