First Things First: Teeing Up Your Course’s Transformation

We recently discussed the five boxes all clubs should check when preparing for a major renovation. Today, we’ll dive a bit deeper into the first item on that checklist — identifying exactly what your project aims to do. As we delve into the pivotal aspects of the renovation process, let’s begin by breaking down the key elements that determine a project’s goals.

STEP 1: Identifying Your Project Drivers

Before you even approach groundbreaking, it’s important to identify exactly what’s driving your project. More often than not, the two main drivers are either an aesthetic improvement or an infrastructural update. 

In an aesthetic-driven renovation, Clubs are looking to enhance the way the course plays or looks. This will also have an influence on the performance and playability of a golf course. Things like regrassing and renovating bunkers should be evaluated not just as a renovation cost, but how the changes will affect the player experience and future maintenance costs. 

When addressing an infrastructural issue, Clubs are looking to correct a flaw in the course that could be hindering play. For example, if the fairway drainage is a problem, creek banks are eroding or turfgrass is difficult to maintain at desired levels, it may be time to make a change to your infrastructure. 

Course renovation projects are often driven by Club campus improvements. In order to stay competitive in the marketplace, a Club may add amenities such as pickleball, additional parking or the introduction of golf practice facilities. 

STEP 2: Identifying Your Project Goals

After identifying your project drivers, Clubs must clearly define the project’s goals. 

When identifying project goals, one pivotal consideration is whether the renovation can occur while the golf course remains open or if it requires closure. This decision may carry different weight for private facilities compared to municipal courses. Recognizing the implications on the membership and day-to-day operations is crucial and should be a priority in the early stages of planning.

While it’s tempting to explore alternatives such as operating as a 9-hole course during construction, this solution comes with a huge caveat in that it very likely will extend the timeline of the project, potentially resulting in increased costs.

The impact of a closure calls for consideration of more than your club’s members. The implications on staff must be considered — questions about job security and the redistribution of responsibilities are issues that will need to be addressed.

It is not the role of a project manager to dictate the club’s decision on these key issues. Instead, the mission is to ensure that the decision-makers are educated on every available option, allowing them to make the best decision for their club and membership. The objective is not to inflate the budget unnecessarily but to guide the club toward an informed and strategic choice in the golf course renovation process.

As we tee up the transformative journey for your golf course, a Club must fully grasp the importance of strategic planning and informed decision-making throughout the entirety of the process. From identifying project drivers and goals to assembling the right team, a project manager’s insight can guide you through the complexities of a golf course renovation. As project managers, our focus is not solely on the physical transformation of a facility, but on empowering decision-makers with knowledge to make the best choices. With each step, you’re better positioned for success and armed with the keys to navigate the landscape of golf course renovation. Stay tuned for more pro tips on how to map out a smooth project.