The Smart Approach to Tee Box Renovations
Think about it — everything begins on the tees. That’s where your guests and members first encounter your course. The extent to which the tee surface is firm and level and well turfed not only determines their first impression, it also sets expectations for their play experience.
But tee boxes, especially given their footprint-to-foot traffic ratio, undergo a lot of wear and tear. So what is the lifespan of a tee box? The American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) recommends that tee boxes be replaced every 15 years or so, possibly even sooner for those courses whose tee box areas are insufficient for the amount of annual course play.
The question for many — if not all — club managers and superintendents is when and how to manage tee box renovation with minimal play disruption and impact to budget. Read on for our experts’ advice.
Schedule Wisely and Use Specialists
There’s a lot that goes into tee box renovation and building it into your annual budget and schedule is a smart approach. Many clubs plan on renovating two to three tee complexes per year so that they can better manage course play and the labor and material costs associated with these renovation projects.
Given tee box renovation involves everything from sod stripping to tilling to adding mix (if necessary) to laser leveling and sod laying, most clubs opt to bring in specialists for better results and costs. For example, laser leveling requires specialized equipment and, in certain states, clubs can save on taxes by having the company from which the sod was bought lay the sod.
Still, no matter how you choose to do it, tee box renovation takes time and money. Costs can range from $1.50 per square foot for warm season turf to $2.50 per square foot for cool season turf. As for timing, count on about three weeks from start to finish: five days of work for every 10,000 square feet undergoing renovation and two or more weeks after the work has been done for the tee to be playable.
Keep Play Going
Probably one of the biggest challenges clubs face is keeping play going around the work. Again, the planning that goes into this needs to be a part of the schedule. Talk to your superintendent and greens committee well ahead of time and find a suitable area near the tee complex that can serve as the tee area temporarily. Make sure it’s level and begin mowing it down about two weeks prior to use for optimum play.
Follow the Three Golden Rules
Finally, keep these three guidelines from our experts in mind when planning tee renovations:
1. Work with your superintendent to create a long-term tee renovation program and stick to it. It will pay off.
2. Make sure your tee surface is large enough for the amount of play on your course and that the turf you’re using can stand up to the expected use. The United States Golf Association (USGA) recommends 100 square feet of usable tee area for every 1,000 rounds of annual play.
3. Go for transparency. Hiring a contractor to undertake your renovations may seem like a time-saver but it could cost you in terms of mark-up fees on subs versus contracting directly with the specialists you need to get the job done. Additionally, a contractor may or may not be invested in ensuring the long-term success of your renovation. Choose your partners wisely.
Whatever you do, keep in mind your tee boxes are your guests’ and members’ introduction to your course. Keep them high quality and make those first impressions count.