Golf club’s new maintenance building a state-of-the-art addition to turf operations
By Mike Jiggens
AT one of North America’s oldest golf courses, a brand new maintenance
building has emerged, making its superintendent the envy of several of
Turf maintenance operations had been conducted from a 5,000-square-foot facility at the Brantford Golf &â€ˆCountry Club since the 1980s. Prior to that, a 2,000-square-foot building served as the club’s turf centre.
Neither facility—even when combined in the late 1980s—were deemed adequate for Brantford’s maintenance operations and storage requirements.
Today, it’s a much different story.
Paul Evenden, who arrived at the private golf course as assistant superintendent near the start of the millennium, realized the existing 5,200 square feet were woefully insufficient. Superintendent since 2002, he set in motion five years later the process to obtain the space necessary to better streamline the turf maintenance department’s operations.
A “wish list” was devised by Evenden and his staff in 2007 as the end result of a study into his existing facility’s insufficiencies. Notable among the inadequacies were a lack of computer space, insufficient office space, and lunchroom facilities which didn’t measure up.
“We got some of the powers that be to help us buy into the need for a new facility,” he said. “What worked well with that was we had an open house in the old building and showed everyone what we were up against. Anyone who came down and saw our old facility said, ‘You guys need a new maintenance building.’”
An environmental audit was conducted at the golf course in 2008, and it was further realized from that that there were areas in which the club fell short.
“We knew we weren’t in compliance with some things, and we knew it would be an issue, so it was a good time to address those.”
Evenden said he is an advocate of organization, and the inadequacies of the existing turf maintenance facility contributed to unnecessary downtime each morning, cramped working quarters, and supplies and equipment which had been crammed into place.
“Superintendents have so much on their plates these days with regulatory issues, Audubon, member politics, committees we sit on…” he said of the need for organization, including that of a tidy, properly-functioning maintenance facility. “It’s a daunting task. It’s huge. I’m sure anyone would tell you it’s a totally different job than it was even 10 years ago.”
Among Brantford’s members is a building design engineer who took the wish list prepared by Evenden and his staff and came up a number of preliminary drawings “which fit pretty close to what we wanted.”
The process of getting a bigger, more modern maintenance building then began. Approval was necessary from a number of different committees along the way, and Evenden said each phase was a nailbiter. Because the project involved a new building, it first went to the property committee. Approved at that stage, it subsequently went to the finance committee.
“We went to finance which at that point we thought that was going to be the end of it.”
Evenden said the timing to initiate such a project wasn’t the most ideal as it coincided with the beginning of the economic downturn in late 2008.
“We were very nervous that because of the times people would say, ‘No, we can’t afford it.’”
The finance committee approved the project, saying the club could afford it. Final approval was left in the hands of the board of directors.
“The board approved it, but said they wanted it to go to a general membership vote.”
Evenden said he figured the only way the vote would go in his favour would be to have as many members as possible visit the existing building and see for themselves how inadequate the maintenance facilities were. The general economy was getting worse, but the members who saw the building for themselves spread the word that, “We’ve been ignoring this operation too long.”
Brantford’s membership marginally greenlighted the project. Those who voted against it were in agreement a new building was necessary, Evenden said, but felt the uncertain economic times were not right for initiating a capital project of such significance.
Although approval was in place, the project became stalled in early 2009 through the bank and didn’t get going again until July. Ground was finally broken to officially kick off construction in early August.
Today, the Brantford Golf & Country Club is home to 10,200 square feet of maintenance facility space, almost doubling in size its previous amount.
The project, which cost less than $1 million, came in under budget and was finished ahead of schedule.
Demolishing the former building had been briefly considered, but plans were revised to leave it in place and construct a virtual twin building immediately adjacent to it. It, too, measures 50 feet by 100 feet, but has a second storey.
“We wanted to make sure the new building tied in with the old building nicely, neatly and cleanly, and something that didn’t look like a patchwork of different buildings. They did a fantastic job tying in the old building with the new building.”
A gated breezeway now separates the two main buildings.
Five different outfits submitted bids for the building’s construction, including two headed by club members. The contract was finally awarded to Lanca Contracting Ltd. of Brantford.
Brantford’s board of directors had two stipulations when it approved the project. There could be no disruption to the golf course itself during construction, and there was to be no changes in the conditioning of the course that could result in maintenance staff potentially being taken away from their on-course duties. Neither was an issue, Evenden said.
The location of Brantford’s maintenance facilities had left them prone to vandalism over the years. A nearby public rail trail generates significant traffic in the area, and at night would-be vandals can enact their deed and get away virtually undetected, in spite of the fact a security company has been retained on the property.
“All of our equipment has to be inside, secured and alarmed,” Evenden said. “Otherwise it goes missing or is vandalized.”
The new facilities offer plenty of room to keep all equipment placed securely inside. Previously, to keep equipment secure from vandalism, it was crammed inside a tight space at night, requiring extra time in the morning to move some pieces aside in order to reach other equipment positioned deeper inside the building.
“It used to be complete chaos inside here,” Evenden said. “Everything was just jammed inside. We were taking 15 minutes to get out in the morning. If you wanted that tractor there, you had to move five pieces of equipment.
“Everything has a home now. There’s not a bungee cord that doesn’t have a space, there’s not a cart that doesn’t have a place, there’s not a leaf rake that doesn’t have a home.”
Inside the new building are individual offices for Evenden, his assistant and his mechanic. The computer console for operating the course’s irrigation system is located inside the spacious assistant’s office along with a second station for integrated pest management monitoring.
In all, there are six wireless computer stations in the new building.
Evenden said he and his staff tried to “think of everything” when collaborating on the building’s design. As a means of keeping the office space and staff facilities clean, a “mud room” was created. Staff enter the building through the mud room where they can immediately remove muddy boots or wet overclothing, placing them into individual hockey-type lockers. They can then proceed into the office areas, washrooms, lunchroom and other areas without tracking dirt or dripping water.
A large lunchroom/training room is just off the mudroom entryway, allowing all 18 members of the maintenance staff to eat simultaneously. Inside the old building, the lunchroom could accommodate only eight people comfortably, forcing the others on staff to either eat outside or in another cramped area. The new room doubles as a training area and is equipped with a television set for training video presentations.
Also featured inside the new building are a first aid room/laundry room, separate men’s and women’s washroom/locker rooms with full showers and lockers to securely store valuables, and second-level storage space for such clubhouse belongings as Christmas decorations.
“We recognized we had to have some storage for items from the clubhouse, so that was another good selling feature that we had, that this facility would be a storage facility for the club itself,” Evenden said.
A kitchen with plenty of cupboard space rounds out the staff amenities.
The maintenance part of the new building features designated spaces for specific items, including parts, smaller machinery, safety equipment and tires. The latter are kept up off the ground on racks fabricated by Brantford’s mechanic.
Just outside the building is a new concrete pad which complies with environmental regulations. Measures have been taken to ensure any spills resulting from fuel handling are safely contained without any danger to the environment.
The driveway and staff parking area have been paved to complete the project. Formerly a gravel area, the outside was paved to cut back on the amount of dust and dirt that had been strewn about.
The original 2,000-square-foot building now serves as storage for fertilizer, seed and bulk supplies.
When the existing 5,000-square-foot building was gutted, long-forgotten items that were 20 or more years old were discarded.
Evenden said the newer and more spacious facilities have served to energize his staff. The hours spent last year getting the work done were long and exhausting, he said, but they were well worth it.
“The building just flows,” he said. “The entire operation is so much more streamlined and efficient.”
Evenden said he and his staff enjoyed a good working relationship with both the architect and contractor.
“Any of the changes we asked to have done, as long as they could be worked within the budget, were well received.”
The same positive working relationship carried over to the subcontractors who were often asked to make small changes along the way. Evenden said the subcontractors were invited to attend a staff barbecue at which they enjoyed free hamburgers and beverages.
“That paid off like you have no idea,” he said, adding requested changes such as relocating wall outlets were happily looked after by the subcontracted electrician.
Neighbouring golf courses have expressed interest in the new maintenance facilities. Evenden said he had visited other golf courses which had done maintenance building upgrades of their own to pick up some ideas and refine them.