Years ago, during my first assistants’ job, I remember questioning an equipment salesman about the price of a fairway mower. I mentioned that it cost more than a new car. His response,you can’t mow grass with a car. Well, that was over 20 years ago and good lightweight fairway units cost more than a Mercedes now. Never has it been more important to maintain the equipment fleet than during this current economic downturn. Excellence in the shop results in excellence on the golf course, and equally important, an extension of equipment life.
We are extremely lucky here at the Shoals. We have two excellent team players as mechanics. These guys not only have the skills necessary to get the job done, they possess the intangible qualities that have helped change the way we do business. Danny Pounders, shop supervisor, and Steve Holden, shop mechanic, have created a dynamic with the crew and a service program that is second to none. With the exception of several new pieces, we continue to use our nine-year-old “grow in“ fleet to maintain The Shoals. This equipment not only works well, it still looks great. Oil changes and grease are only part of the equation. Replacing things like worn out seats and broken sun shades can make the difference between happy or frustrated operators. Our mechanics understand that the better the equipment is when it leaves the shop the better it will be when it returns. Danny and Steve also understand that accidents happen; operators don’t feel the need to park equipment without letting someone know about the tree that just jumped out in front of them. That being said, the great relationship between the mechanics and the operators helps keep any misuse or carelessness to a minimum.
We do everything we can to help our mechanics achieve success. Well-equipped facilities, specialty tools and a reachable budget are only part of the equation. We are very careful when we bring in new employees. Equipment operators can make or break even the best mechanics. We are fortunate to have an incredible staff of operators. Our full-time staff members are steady and dependable. Our part-time staff is mostly comprised of retired golf fanatics. Both part- and full-time members share one trait; they love what they do. Our staff is as proud of The Shoals, as I am. They are the ones who have made it great and they are part of the reason we can still use nine-year-old equipment. Preventative maintenance and repairs can only go so far. Without high-quality people in the seat, even the best programs are destined to fail.
Doug Tinkham is the Golf Course Superintendent at The Shoals Golf Club
Muscle Shoals, Ala.