Managing a limited budget

James Matthewmanin Golf

Deputy Head Greenkeeper, James Matthewman speaks about managing Maesteg Golf Club within a limited budget.

Your club isn't blessed with millions of pounds of budget. What are the main factors when working on a limited budget?

The main factor is priorities. Once you know what budget you are working with, you need to prioritise what you need and what needs to be accomplished. It can sometimes be hard to pinpoint what is most important.

Is sustainable golf course management achievable with a limited budget?

Sustainability is the future, not just for golf course management but for the world in general. We all should be doing our bit and there are plenty of opportunities (regardless of budget) that can be undertaken.

In terms of budgets and projects, is this more restricted in winter or summer?

If you plan your budget it shouldn't really matter, however most golf clubs with smaller budgets might see a tighter squeeze in winter - due to less green fees and inclement weather.

When a course closes due to weather, does this have an effect on budgets?

It generally depends on how your golf club earns its revenue. If your club earns a lot through walk-ins, then yes this will impact it financially. Clubs run mainly on membership income will certainly have that little bit more stability. Members are much more important than meets the eye.

Despite some golf courses having minimal resources, how can you get the best out of your budget and time?

It comes down to the saying 'You can only work with what's in front of you'. If resources are really limited, you need to look after what you have got and use your time effectively and efficiently.

Do you think improved management skills and individual development has seen budget become less impactful on course management?

Absolutely! Having good management skills is vital in any workplace. Also having staff trained correctly and improving their professional development will certainly lead to a smoother, well-run course. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Have you implemented any changes such as cutting length and project development in order to save on budget?

Yes. Ecological areas were one of the first things we implemented. It's not only brilliant for the environment, but it saves a lot of manpower in cutting and reduces fuel costs significantly. Nearly all projects we planned throughout the year were carried out in-house. We find this a very useful way to learn and it also keeps costs down.

How do greenkeepers reduce costs but still keep the same consistency of quality?

That is the million-dollar question! To simplify the answer, it comes down to having a very knowledgeable head greenkeeper who is backed by his/her team and supported by their club. The team goes far beyond just the greenkeepers.

How important is a strong management and team ethic?

It is never easy to stay motivated when times become difficult but, by having strong management and a good working team ethic, I believe you can get through and overcome anything. Positivity is key.

How important is it to understand that every club has a different budget and different resources?

The greenkeeping industry has such a helpful and caring community. I think all greenkeepers know the score when it comes to manpower, budget etc. If anything, you will find higher-end clubs are generally so supportive and will always help where they can. It is about reaching out for that advice when needed.

How damaging can it be for clubs on a limited budget if machinery breaks down?

This can be extremely tough, as there is only so much patching up you can do: 'you can't put a plaster over something that needs stitches!' You should always look after your machinery at all costs.

Would you say it is important for members to have an understanding of the budgets greenkeepers are dealing with?

Yes definitely! I appreciate not all members would be interested but, if you can get one or two on board with the understanding that limited budgets can lead to implications, then at least they can relate.

How important is a good line of communication between the course manager, the committee and the golfer when budgets are limited?

Everyone knows that communication is probably the most important action in any organisation. What the course manager relays to the committee and management also needs to be passed onto members. Whenever there is a budget-related problem, if a complaint occurs because of it, nine times out of ten you can source it back to a fault in communication.

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