Sunday, 28 October 2012

Why a Master Plan?


You don’t run a business without a business plan. So why would you renovate your golf course without a comprehensive look at what you are trying to achieve.

I believe this is the one opportunity to talk about the big picture and philosophy of what you are trying to accomplish before you start to look at projects. You need to talk about expectations. You need to address issues like attracting future members. You must talk about how you want the course to play on a day to day basis. Often many of these philosophical questions influence the direction of the Master Plan. Understanding growing environments may be the single most important aspect of this process.

The most important part of Master Planning is having a broad based committee that represents the entire club’s playing membership. If the committee is well struck, the Master Plan process is usually fun and educational since many members of the committee learn a great deal more about the play of other players and the issues a superintendent faces in meeting expectations. Once well educated about both, the process becomes a sorting through all the possibilities to find a solution that fits the culture of the club which must including the financial aspects.

The Master Plan focuses the club on what needs to be addressed or what needs improvement. It helps the membership decide on capitol allocation, which often competes with the clubhouse and other areas with “plans.” It identifies connected projects for efficiencies, provides a breakdown of costs and even includes a recommended phasing plan on how to get the work done within the typical yearly capital allocations available for improvements.

Most clubs have a culture of consistent in house work such as tree removal, grassing changes and tee work. Many superintendents use the plan to find small projects that fit manpower or left over capital in their own budgets. It allows us to take on some smaller projects in short notice if wither the circumstance demand action or the capital surprise opens up a late season opportunity.

My Master Plans happen to include a Master Plan Booklet, which allows new members on the board or committee to read through all the documentation and immediately come up to speed on how the plan was developed. This avoids starting the process again a few years later. I find it helps maintain the focus and avoid personal agendas. It also helps the process continue on through the decade without re-starting as boards change.
After Image from Laval Master Plan

I even recommend all documentation be shared on line with the membership. I provide the plan, images and booklets and suggest they be available at the clubhouse at all times. I also run multiple meetings with the membership at large to help engage the membership by explaining why we need to make the changes we recommend.

I see all of this as a written and illustrated step by step instruction about the club, what problems need addressing, what recommendations have been made, they have images that show what they will all look like, they have breakdowns of what it will cost and finally how will it impact you the member.

That’s why I do them, because the members of the committee and club can read through the entire process and answer all those questions by the time they finish the document and make an informed decision on whether they want to spend money on projects or not.

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