"People don't plan to fail, the just fail to plan."
"A goal properly set is halfway reached"
I'm always a sucker for a good quotation. In fact I keep a little booklet in my office of favorite quotes assembled by Zig Ziglar. Knowing how important planning is for the upcoming season, I spend a great deal of time developing a thorough and comprehensive maintenance schedule for the upcoming season (just in case you are wondering what I do in the winter season). Utilizing successes and failures from past experience, information shared from fellow Superintendents', continuing educations seminars, self-research, and assistance from local vendors are all avenues which are considered when formulating a comprehensive maintenance schedule.
Developing a blueprint for the upcoming season takes a great deal of thought and consideration. All cultural and nutritional practices need to be considered. When first developing our schedule I consider the timing of applications, products that will be used and rates of the products being applied and how they fit within the golf calendar. Once that has been established I am then able to develop a calendar of events based on these applications. All potential application data can then be entered into our SPaRKS web based program.
There are many aspects that need to be considered when developing a strategy for each area of the golf course. As we enter the season I want to make sure we have a comprehensive plan and schedule in place, because even though we have a specific objective there are times we need to vary from the plan based on weather, growing conditions or changes to the golf calendar. By developing our applications now we know what products we expect to use, how much we estimate will be utilized and the cost associated with the implementation of the programs. When planning, I typically design the program for a worst case scenario with rates and frequency of use, ultimately being more than we will need to use that season.
The areas that require planning are as follows; greens, collars, weak greens, tees, weak tees, fairways, fairway weak spots, green banks, bunker banks, intermediate rough, rough, high traffic areas, the practice tees, practice fairway, practice range rough, gardens, large cotoneaster hedge, and club house lawns. Within those areas we need to consider topdressing applications (for greens, tees, approaches, fairway weak spots) soluble fertility applications, granular fertility apps, fungicides, insecticides, wetting agents, growth regulators, core aeration, solid tine aeration and deep tine aerification practices.
Once each individual application is scheduled on the calendar, then the tedious task of developing each individual fertility and fungicide application begins. I utilize a program called SPaRKS Superintendent Version software (very inexpensive) that is tailored to golf course operations. Through this software I am able to develop each application in advance. Once all the data is entered, I can then use that information to make sure our expected fertility applications are at the rates we desire and within the budget we have been allocated. The software also allows us to print application sheets for each individual application, record the information as well as print reports that show us fertility rates, final product costs and usage. I can then utilize this information for future planning and ordering of product based on past years needs and requirements.
The beauty of it all, we have a solid comprehensive plan in place before the season begins. But, even the most well thought out plans change. As Superintendents we know changes occur and we need to adapt to the environment. We work in an ever changing environment so this is nothing new for us. But I feel better knowing what products we plan on using, the timing of the applications, the total expected cost for the season and we have the calendar in place to help us remember what our plan is. Once we go into battle its very easy to lose focus of plans we made in January and having a plan keeps us on track so we can provide the best product we possibly can for our members.
"Our daily objectives should include an honest effort to improve on yesterday."