Golf Course Management and Controlling Software
A Head Greenkeeper's Experience
By Andrew Foyle, Head Greenkeeper, Golfclub Chieming im Chiemgau e.V., Bavaria, Germany
"In 1906 Greenkeeping was about 10% science and 90% muck and magic." In 2006 it's the other way round. We need to keep up with developments as we are responsible for spending substantial budgets wisely and to produce excellent results on the course. On top of this the amount of administrative tasks have increased during the years. It is therefore necessary for many of us to get our offices organised and meet the requirements.
Head Greenkeepers are constantly in charge of getting various work completed -
- Planning, co-ordination, execution: Care activities, labour utilisation, machine utilisation, budget and spendings
- Communication: Board / employer, public, staff
- Personnel / staff: "Hire and fire", motivation, education
Through the years our responsibility developed more and more towards management-related tasks. We are the link between the staff and the board (communication and mediation), and we need to negotiate our budgets and justify our spendings. This includes knowledge and factual information, specifically with cost-related issues. This development makes it virtually indispensible to upgrade our office-tools -good-bye to pen and paper, welcome PC and software!
Personal Experience with Software
My office used to be a source of stress and paperwork was piling up during the season. What I wanted was something easy to use, not being a computer wizard myself. Some type of "Data Collector" with an easy input and retrieval of information. Well organised and clearly structured. Back in 2002 I started to use Punctus Greens. It proved to be both easy to handle and robust - a valuable tool for my office and still used today.
My personal requirements
It is my goal to have as little stress as possible in my office so keeping up with this part of my work is important to me. It is a good feeling to enter the office and know that things are in order! Simplicity and swiftness are the keys. If a particular software is easy to use it will generate substantial useage. Gathering data has to be fast too, so I consider 10 to 15 minutes per day as adequate.
What I found with Punctus is a clearly structured program. The menue is easy to navigate. The majority of inputs is done by clicking on items in drop boxes and very little typing is involved. Example: to enter an activity into the care report, the programme wants to know where ("Object of Care") and what (Activity). With this, gathering information becomes simple and quick.
Major care activities and regular tasks can be scheduled in an easy manner in the calendar. (e.g. mowing fairways every Mon, Wed, Fri). The activities will automatically pop up in your "Daily Plan" as a reminder. From there they may be transferred to the care report by clicking on them and marking them as "done". This again speeds up the reporting during the season!
Analysis of the Information
The reasons to gather information is to keep memory of different issues and to derive conclusions from these memories. A crucial point is therefore to get compressed reports which are easy to digest. What I use for decision-making and planning are items like
- Time used per single task (e.g. mow greens, triplex)
- Time used per area (e.g. greens, tees)
- Repetitions (six times verti-cutting)
- Date of execution
- Use of materials (e.g. fertiliser)
- Time sheets of staff
- Machines (maintenance intervals, repair)
- Budget / spendings
When the time comes to make plans for the next season it proves to be of great value to have concise overviews ready for interpretation. The preparation for the planning becomes very short. I just have to print and revise the overviews, e.g. a summary of last year's course care. What did we do, how did it work, what should we change or keep doing? The same happens with all the other issues - planning orders of material, overtime and leave of staff or replacement of machinery.
The tricky bit
Just keeping records of every bit and peace doesn't necessarily lead us anywhere. We need to be clear where we want to go first. It helps a great deal to have the inputs in a uniform manner. When I started to use the program I first had to "structure my thoughts". What do I want to track? How do I want the information to be presented in my reports? Once I was clear about this the rest was simple. I adjusted the preset "Objects of Care" and "Care Activities" to my requirements and was ready to go.
As it comes to using software there are questions we will be confronted with. Will we be monitored all the time by "Big Brother"? I think that being accountable is ok. The reports can even be used in an excellent way to reverse the "Big-Brother-effect" - that is to communicate what the staff achieves. Usually this is a lot more than board members realise!
Are we going to track 100% of everybody's activities? This is a matter of taste. I focus to track the main tasks and just the hours worked per person. More detail is without any use for me so why take the effort to record it?
As it comes to plan the coming season my first step is to set goals. This could be to avoid thatch, enhance speed of greens or else. Priorities help me to keep the focus and have a good plan for the season.
All this needs to be negotiated with and communicated to the staff and
Tel: 01384 343531 and email@example.com the Greens Committee. I regard this as crucial because to me "quality" is primarily the culture to set goals (whatever they are) and to produce the results within the financial frame. Quality information also keeps others posted.
It does make great sense to be accountable. Clean records are the foundation of communication. And communication is the foundation of quality.
To me the use of Punctus Greens means saving time in the office and being on top of my work. So what it gives me by the end of the day is more time out on the greens for a bit of muck and magic!
Daily Plan Page 1 - The main window to start daily inputs.
Notes Menu: Maps can be displayed, notes can be kept.
Tel: 01384 343531 and firstname.lastname@example.org