L.J. Lawson: The work never stops, even after the golf season ends

If I’m still working but you’re not here to see it, do I make a sound? As the season ends for golfing, the work to build a great 2020 season is just beginning. The off season is as busy, or busier than the season itself — in fact, the more work done during the off season, the better the following season will be!

There’s a number of tasks that are involved in wrapping up one season and heading into the next. With reduced staff, it means lots of work for the year-round employees.

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First, like any business, you need to wrap up all of the financials for the year and go through the budgeting process for the next season. Then, in order to shut everything down, you need to complete inventory and evaluate the state of your equipment so that maintenance and repairs can be completed. You winterize the clubhouse and ensure everything not required in winter is safely packed away.

One of the fun activities that happens right after we close our doors is the buying show. Even before the year ends, we have to have all of our orders in to stock the pro shop for the following season. It can be fun, and stressful, to see what’s going to be available for your golfers in the next season and make decisions about what will be the most popular in six months.

For example, if you decide on a golf shoe, you have to guess how many of each size will sell. Buy too much of one size or stray too far from your golfers’ comfort zone and you could be sitting on a lot of inventory at the end of next season.

Once back from the show, it’s time to start connecting with tournament organizers and sponsors to put together the 2020 calendar of events. The goal is to have this complete by December, as the first couple of months of the new year will be spent creating promotional materials and organizing the first few tournaments of the season.

Although it seems like the season is a long ways away, by the time the doors open, all focus is going to be on the day to day operations and serving the golfers, so the more prep work completed, the better.

It’s a great time to go through all the issues that arose during the previous season and see how you as a course can smooth them out. You learn a great deal from season to season and if you want to keep getting better, the winter is the best time to lay the foundation for the next season.

Courses continue to provide a number of services in the off season. It’s a great time to drop your clubs off to be regripped or repaired. Of course, we always open up for Christmas shopping and look forward to seeing people we haven’t seen since the season ended.

As the new year rolls around, merchandise starts arriving and with the warmer temperatures, the guessing game with regard to when we’ll open starts. It’s important to get an early start on hiring for the season, unpacking everything that was put away, starting up contracts required for summer operations, getting out to see sponsors and tournament organizers and prepping for the area’s first sign of spring – the trade show!

And this work list is just for the clubhouse operations. The superintendent is busy with many of the same things and also monitoring changes in the weather and how they may impact the course, clearing snow and checking whether ice is developing, repairing and replacing equipment, preparing for new projects and activities coming in the new year, and updating maintenance work plans.

So, if you always imagined we have our suitcases packed on the day after the course closes to head off on tropical golf vacations, it’s sadly not true. Although we do try to sneak off for a bit of a break before the new season, we’re mostly busy making sure your experience at the club gets better year every year!  

— L.J. Lawson

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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