BTME Harrogate product review
So what is the R&A’s benchmarking service? Basically it is a simple way of logging a Course Manager’s key
operational data for his club so that they can then monitor resource inputs
such as chemicals, irrigation, machinery usage and labour for their maintained surfaces.
This data is then processed and a ‘benchmark’ graph line is produced that can be used to judge year-on-year trends. This benchmark can also be judged, anonymously, against national average figures for all golf clubs registered with the system.
The usefulness of this system relies on two key criteria, a)
Course Managers taking part and b) enough Course Managers taking part. A
critical mass of participating clubs is need for the national average
benchmarking to be of any use.
Also for the data to be reliable regular,accurate and honest data inputs are going to be needed. A lot of you already keep these detailed records in various forms and as legislation gets tighter the more you will have to ensure this data is to hand, so why not use the R&A’s system. Of course you may be forced to use this system by your club
if the Board or committee see it as a useful tool to get bent/fescue surfaces. As I see it there are three main drivers behind this system.
1) Sustainable golf maintenance practices
2) The collection of national data to use in European legislation lobbies
3) Golf course management information that the R&A and STRI don’t already have to hand as they don’t manage golf courses
Lets look at these more closely.
1) Sustainable golf maintenance. A broad based topic this, but for the sake of brevity lets say that it is the version that the R&A are promoting. As I have said before this is a highly laudable ideal and one that should be supported if you feel that it is a target that is achievable. Remember the R&A expects golf course managers to drive this sustainable movement. To this end then the ‘Benchmarking system’ is a useful tool but not one that is needed to achieve sustainability.
2) Data Collection for lobbing purposes. Steve Isaac (Director – Golf Course Management- R&A) stated that it was important that golf should be able to provide its own information on inputs for tools such as so that it could, and I paraphrase here, separate its self from being lumped in with the high users of pesticides and fertilisers. This would undeniably be true if I didn’t believe that legislation would then be geared around inputs that were so low that golf clubs that chose a ‘tournament’ rather than ‘championship’ level presentation would be dictated to and ostracised within the governing bodies.
3) Course management information gathering. I worry about the commercial usage of this information. The R&A’s chosen partner in this initiative the STRI may have a lot to gain from this detailed data that would give them a fantastic commercial advantage. I just hope that this data is not to be used for commercial gain.