Winter 2016 Florida Golf Magazine© Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved

Developing A Golf Course Maintenance Budget

by Scott Zakany

         Developing a maintenance budget requires a thorough understanding of the course objectives as well as the playing conditions your customers expect. How are standards determined? How are costs justified? Where on the spectrum of industry trends does the course need to be to maintain playability and profitability and compete with other courses in the same vicinity? The answer to these questions will steer the course for developing a budget and, oftentimes, it is most effective to begin with a zero-based budget.
         A zero-based budget requires that every expense be identified and justified. Beginning with a zero balance, every function is evaluated and analyzed to determine its utility, frequency, and cost. Current expenditures are historical data relevant to calculating current costs but are not the basis for determining need and efficiency.
         The evaluation begins with establishing proper guidelines for maintenance assessed against the criterion of course objectives. A complex and comprehensive assessment includes:

Soil Fertility
•Conduct soil and tissue sample tests
•Analyze the test results against the highest potential of remedy to achieve course objectives
•Review remediation options for task/cost comparisons
•Establish the best available corrective action plan
•Determine the cost of remediation throughout the budget period

Turf Condition Report
•What pests or other conditions threaten the course conditions
•Establish a tolerance threshold for pests, identifying the minimum conditions that must be maintained
•Construct the chemical composition and quantity required to meet the threshold
•Source and price the chemical cost necessary to achieve the required composition and quantity
•Determine the chemical costs required throughout the budget period

Task Specification
•Identify every task necessary to achieve the guideline
•Determine the frequency of each task
•Establish the time required to complete each task
•Determine the cost of labor to complete each task throughout the budget period

         Each of these assessments is important to the overall evaluation of the course conditions and budget requirements. No viable maintenance budget can be constructed without a proper evaluation of the current working parameters. Zero-based budgets, in particular, hone in on the specificity of the course, ensuring the maintenance program is meeting the unique challenges and expectations of that course.
         Industry benchmarks, such as cost per hole, cost per acre, and cost per member, may reflect what an individual club is actually spending, but it there is no industry standard applicable to all clubs universally. What another club is spending on course maintenance is irrelevant and always counterproductive to developing sustainable management plans for maintenance. It is necessary to develop a plan that meets the course objectives and member expectations, yet lies within the constraints of an affordable budget.

Scott A. Zakany, Cerftified Golf Course Superintendent
Mr. Zakany has been involved in the Golf Course industry for over 35 years and has experience at over 300 golf facilities in three countries. Mr. Zakany is a member of the Top Agronomic Officers Advisory Board that works in conjunction with the National Golf Course Owner’s Association and he also serves as the Agronomic Counsel for the Golf Course Business Consultants Group (CGBC) which is a professional organization that provides owners and operators with golf course related services and advice.

Cypress Golf Course Services
Utilizing CGCS consultation services, clubs benefit from a thorough review and analysis of existing operations and a management plan conceived with more than thirty years of experience in managing course operations. Our business is your business. Our clients’ maintenance programs operate at peak efficiency, on budget, and meet or exceed course objectives and player expectations. If you would like more information about constructing a zero-based budget with the services of CGCS, call us at (813) 645-9111 or send an email from our contact page at
Cypress Golf Management

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