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Take Charge of The Budget Process In A Bad Economy

Jim McLoughlin


The timely question that must be asked today is: How will golf course superintendents deal with the inevitability that an already difficult economy is likely to get worse in the coming years?


The reasons for this question in part are because of the anticipated negative impact twenty-one new Obamacare taxes will have next year, the inevitability of higher inflation and the long promised jump in the cost of electricity. Analysts advise that the next recession will hit hard and stay around for a while pending the results of the 2016 elections.


Reality Check

Clearly, the above circumstances call for more efficient spending throughout the golf course maintenance world. But who will have the final say in this process? Employers or the golf course superintendents!


Don't think for a moment that "reputation-conscious" lay members of private club/municipal boards, or green committees and/or general managers are going to take the fall for misguided budget decisions they make when there are golf course superintendents available to lay blame on.


It is even worse than that because those up the superintendent's chain of command will always take the credit for the good and lay the blame for the bad.


Therefore, the sole recourse superintendents will have available to address the above reality is to artfully assume control of the maintenance program budget process because nobody can more effectively protect their own interests and that of their employers better than golf course superintendents.


Taking the following two initiatives will position the superintendent in a controlling position:


1.  Revise previously established multi-year long range planning forecasts to reflect an necessary austerity approach to future course budgeting.  If LRP program not previously established -- do so now. (See Aug 13th blog message - step #3.)


For defensive management purposes, submit revised LRP program up the chain of command for comments that should be reflected in the minutes of the meeting called for this purpose. This creates the foundation for future austerity budget drafting as needed.


2.   Prepare the coming fiscal year's maintenance program budget drafts that should correlate with the previously submitted revised LRP budgeting with comments and submit up the chain of command for approval. Within this budget draft, the following two issues should be addressed:


a. Because the quality of green maintenance and bunker maintenance are the two elements which primarily allow "players' pride" to develop and be sustained in their golf course, the conditioning of these two labor intensive areas should not be sacrificed to meet lower budgeting needs.


b. Only when circumstances warrant, superintendents should not hesitate to voluntarily take up to the same percentage cut in salary as is being mandated for the department's operating budget. Clearly, it is better to have 95% of a former salary than no salary at all.


Without question, it is important for superintendents to take fiscal control of their maintenance programs at their own initiative thereby reaping the benefits of being perceived as a decisive manager before being put on the defensive and being told what to do by their employers.


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