Turf- and Time-Saving Tips for Managing Big Events
Weddings, golf tournaments, annual celebrations — from Fourth of July fireworks to end-of-summer barbeques — are all commonplace on golf courses across the country and, if not handled properly, every single one of these events can wreak havoc on your turf or budget.
The trick is knowing what to do before and after the events to minimize any potential negative impact. Just follow the steps we’ve outlined and your events should go without a hitch.
Step 1: Keep the Communication Channels Open
Putting scheduled events on the calendar is a no-brainer, and with tournaments and weddings commonly scheduled months or even a year in advance, this is simple to do. The key is to not only note the events but to also schedule a kick-off meeting 30 to 60 days in advance (depending on the complexity of the event), plan for regular check-ins (weekly or bi-weekly) prior to the event and hold a post-mortem afterwards.
Who should attend? It depends on the nature of the event. Your course superintendent, wedding coordinator and the director of golf may all be involved, particularly at the kick-off meeting. This is the chance to get questions answered up front so that the maintenance crew can do whatever necessary to ensure the course is prepped and protected.
Questions to cover include:
- What time of day will the event take place? Does this impact play or watering schedules?
- Will there be tents? How many? Where? Is staking involved?
- Will the tents have flooring? Is it wood, plastic, or a combination of both?
- How many days are planned for setup and teardown? Does the watering or maintenance schedule need to be adjusted to accommodate this?
- Will there be vehicles involved for setup or teardown? What is the access route and how does this affect the turf and/or play?
- Will there be grills or outdoor food stations? If so, what is the best place to situate these to limit damage to the course and/or grounds?
- Where will the high traffic areas be and what needs to be done to prep these areas and help these areas recover after the event?
Step 2: Schedule Pre- and Post-Work
Areas destined for high traffic during the event should be prepped well in advance. Prepping may include aerification, fertilization and sand. Crews may opt to rope off the area and let the grass grow a little longer as another measure to protect the area from heavy foot traffic to come. All of these things can impact play or use of the grounds so good communication and scheduling is key.
During setup, have a maintenance crew member on site to ensure tent staking doesn’t damage irrigation, flooring won’t damage turf, and items such as grills and food stations are placed in such a way to protect the grounds.
After the event, heavily used areas need time to recover. Again, they may have to be roped off and treated.
Take note: In the process of getting the course ready for these events — whether it’s making sure the greens are playing as fast as possible for a tournament or changing out flowers for a wedding — the course or grounds may look worse before they look event-ready. Keeping the communication flowing helps defray any alarm this may raise among players, members or the board.
Step 3: Plan for Emergencies
Mother Nature has been known to rain on a parade or two, and it’s just as likely she might stir up some weather during weddings, golf tournaments, and any planned event for that matter. Be prepared.
If the forecast looks iffy, talk about it beforehand and have a plan of action. You can’t control the weather, but you can be proactive about dealing with it and budgeting for it.
Step 4: Go with Experienced Professionals
Following the steps above will go a long way in hosting successful events on your course. That said, stuff happens: servers dump ice on the turf (not good!), rain turns the perfect venue into a mud bath, and the list goes on.
What to do? Have professionals on your side. Those with long-term knowledge can quickly respond to any challenge with a proven solution. That kind of flexibility and expertise makes for smooth events — and a happier life for everyone, from club management and players to event hosts and guests.