What is involved in Project Management for Golf Courses?

09/09/2020

“Project management” is a loosely defined term meaning, “the application of processes, methods, skills, knowledge and experience to achieve specific project objectives according to the project acceptance criteria within agreed parameters.” Its broadness is because it’s used in every industry from digital marketing to construction. 


On a golf course, project management means something more specific. It’s the job of a so-called golf course superintendent or superintendents – who manage the broader picture of a golf course project. Golf course projects are usually either golf course construction or golf course renovation projects. 


So, how do you manage a golf course project? It turns out it’s a combination of planning, communication and quality control.

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Other duties the golf course project manager has includes keeping an eye on the expenses and the bottom line of the project, overseeing the installation of the irrigation and drainage system, and helping set the maintenance-program budget once the project is completed.

A golf course project manager oversees the price of the project as well as the quality. Shapland says they look after what decisions will benefit the owners in the long run, saying they “should be involved not only with what’s being installed, but how it’s being installed and where it’s being installed.”

To sum it up, the project manager makes sure things are getting done the way they want them done. This requires long hours and focus, but in the case of partial renovations, shouldn’t distract them from maintaining the holes that are still running. The advice here is to trust that the people the project manager hired are experts, so they are present for key events and reports, but not standing by watching the entire time.

*The quotes for this article were gathered by Bob Seligman, writing for the Golf Course Industry magazine.

Quality Control

Got an idea for a golf course construction or renovation project, but none of the project management skills to pull it off? Well, now that you know how we do it, how about you see it in action! Contact Golf Spectrum today by calling or filling out our online enquiry form with your questions to get a free quote.

A golf course superintendent or golf course project manager usually plans the project by hiring and advising. They hire the architect, the design team members such as the land planner, engineer and irrigation consultant, the construction or earthmoving company and thus the construction superintendent, and contractors. They then draw up the contracts and budgets for each of these key players, including it in the budget for materials.

Depending on the project manager’s experience, they are also an advisor to certain aspects of the project. They might oversee the architect or the irrigation consultant.

Golf course architect Greg Muirhead says project managers are important advisors because they are “the only person that probably has the most intricate and detailed knowledge of the land itself and how that land reacts.”

Golf course superintendent Charles Clark says superintendents and project managers feed architects the information they need to develop the right styles.
“Superintendents can give architects good ideas about the things they’re designing and whether it’s possible to maintain them. Superintendents need to give architects a good understanding of everything, from the type of grasses that live and survive in that area the best to soils and irrigation systems,” he says.

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The golf course project manager doesn’t stop advising the architect and/or the irrigation consultant after the planning stage. They continue to oversee these people into the construction phase, relaying questions, answers and requests from the owner of the golf course to all those involved.

At this point, all those involved also includes the construction superintendent, the builders, the land planner and the engineer. The golf course project manager will coordinate this team as a representative of the golf course owner or board.

President of the Golf Course Builders Association in America Tom Shapland supports this approach, saying, the project manager’s “role is to be the owner’s representative, looking out for the long-term effect of the project on the golf course.”

Muirhead argues they will also often represent the team. He says, “Oftentimes it’s the golf course superintendent who’s the key person explaining to the club why things are necessary.”

According to Golf Works construction vice-president Joe Salvatore, the project manager’s role as a coordinator includes modifying the pace of certain aspects of the project.

“He might want to get one piece done sooner or work on a certain program he has that we might adjust to make his job easier, and then he does the same back for us.”

Overall, communication between the golf course manager and the team is key.

Communication

Planning

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