Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Master Plan is Dead

The Master Plan is dead. That’s a pretty bold statement to make, isn’t it? Judging by the comments we’ve gotten already from our column in Fast and Firm (Golf Course Industry magazine’s e-newsletter), it has struck a chord with many. Most think the approach has great merit, but some are wondering if their recently completed “master plan” is now junk.

To the latter we reply, absolutely not. If we can pull our tongue out from our cheek for a moment, the killing of the master plan was a symbolic reference to the re-prioritization of the planning process. We’ve always considered cost impacts when completing renovation work of any kind. It’s just that now, these considerations are more of a driving force than an ancillary product. We feel the CBAP is a vast improvement when it comes to describing how architects and clubs need to approach renovation work today.

The major innovation of the Cost-Benefit Action Plan is its emphasis on economic efficiencies, enabled by design. Here’s an example: When we talk to a club about renovating its greens, our first priority now is spelling out exactly how much money will be saved, year over year, in maintaining the refurbished greens — in comparison to keeping the old ones. If we can show that regrassing will save a club significant $ per year, per green, in water, chemical-use and man-hours (and in most cases we can do exactly that), then we are providing the sort of renovation service clubs really need today.

Of course, the “Benefit” part of the plan does not always have to be realized in immediate dollars saved. In the process of rebuilding or regrassing greens, we might address contour or reclaiming of lost square footage around the edges or bunker positioning. We’re architects! That’s what we do! But in the context of a CBAP, these changes might be justified by their impact on, say, pace of play – which directly affects user satisfaction and return business.

If you maintain or manage a golf course, I bet you have a master plan kicking around somewhere. Maybe we developed it. How do you use it? How would you change the document to better suit the way you manage, maintain and ultimately upgrade the course? That’s what we’re asking our clients, both old and new. And we’re asking you, too.