2020 Key Takeaways
For everyone in the turf industry and, well, just everyone, this has been the longest and most challenging year we have faced. As 2020 finally nears its end, here are a few key takeaways from our reps out in the field.
The overall golf industry is doing very well. Initially, everyone was scared that golf courses would have less income than in years past. Surprisingly, COVID-19 increased rounds of golf played and revenue, which created record-breaking years in quite a few cases.
The record-breaking year and the increase in rounds of golf brought a change in buying habits. Seed purchases surged in some areas due to the high amount of divots on tees and overseeding in wear areas from the significant cart traffic. Other regions saw purchases of PGRs and wetting agents increase in an effort to cut down on mowing and time spent on hand watering. Practices not typically advantageous because of budget constraints, like fertilizing roughs and additional fertilizer applications, were also done.
Revenue growth was not the only catalyst for a change in buying habits. Due to the pandemic, some superintendents have had to work with less staff and still maintain high standards. Because of this, they turned to products that do more than just one thing for them. Combination fertilizer products, like Foliar-Pak Play-On, combo fungicides like BASF’s Navicon or Bayer’s Exteris, and herbicides, like Bayer’s Tribute Total or ArmorTech’s Tetra, have all become more popular because they do so much more.
Fear of uncertainty was also another catalyst. Some superintendents who were on the fence about purchasing products in early order programs or normally did not partake in early order programs did so this year due to the uncertainty of what this winter and spring may bring in regards to shutdowns that may happen.
Creating a safe environment for players was paramount this year, and Superintendents took action. For example, some Superintendents removed rakes and other accessories from the course to stop the spread of germs. In one course’s case, the rakes are not returning. Two crew members will go around after lunch and touch up greenside bunkers instead of putting the rakes back on the course.
Superintendents also implemented practices to create a safe environment for their crew. One Superintendent created what he calls the “Wave” process, which helps avoid large assemblies of crew members throughout the day. Each crew member was assigned to a smaller “team” (5 or 6 people), given a start time, a break time, and an end time that was offset by 20-30 minutes from the other 2 or 3 “teams.” The “Wave” process kept the number of people in the breakroom and shop area to less than ten at all times during the day, which helped mitigate infections and increase work efficiencies.
Other clubs have created safe environments by hiring companies to clean the bathrooms or have made a more strict schedule of who on the staff cleans. Employees have also been designated specific hand tools or certain mowers to reduce the number of surfaces that multiple employees touch.
Overall, these trying times have showcased the ability of Superintendents (and their crew) to overcome. Many challenges were thrown their way, and each was met with steadfast determination to succeed.