The merits of workshop maintenance
By Pat Callaby
But what about the economics of employing in house mechanics as opposed to contracting out repairs and servicing?
In the past I have worked as a single handed mechanic on a large golf complex consisting of two golf courses and no hire fleet, that was a busy job and was only just manageable with machinery levels "only just there", and by that I mean that there was very little flexibility for machinery down time.
As a rule of thumb (and my personal opinion) one small golf course needs a part time mechanic, lets call it half time. He could be a Greenkeeper first and mechanic second (much favoured in smaller clubs when maintenance is only done on very wet days) a fairly cheap, economical and effective approach to maintenance.
Two courses need a full time committed mechanic familiar with golf course machinery and golf course maintenance practices. He needs to be self-supervising, motivated, well organised, IT literate (and clairvoyant; based on some of the Head Greenkeepers I have met).
Add to normal machinery levels on a two course complex a golf cart hire fleet of say 25 or more carts, another mechanic would be needed to maintain effectiveness. This would be a little luxurious and a little expensive to some clubs but now there is flexibility of workshop labour and in house grinding can be examined to offset the cost of the second mechanic and more fully employ him (or her).
Most clubs that contract out grinding do so on an annual basis, it is very expensive, inconvenient and the period between grinds is too long, bearings are changed even if they don't need changing (and in the case of the more unscrupulous dealer charged for but not changed). The opportunity to fit after market parts is removed when units are sent to main dealers and premium prices are the norm. A closer look at the economics of owning grinding machines will follow in another article.
A three-course complex or (bigger), plus a larger golf cart fleet brings with it added complications and takes a lot more organising to keep it effective.
Tracking servicing of so many machines is very time consuming and can only be done by taking hour meter readings and committing them to paper or computer, comparing them to the previous service and calculate the relevant service interval. Bob's your uncle; the job's a good'un. Do the same thing for (in our case) 173 machines, not including machines without an hour meter, it then gets very, very time consuming, this is before a sump plug has been removed or a spark plug changed. I will go into the complexities of running a large golf course maintenance facility in the next article next week.