Crew member operating mower on golf course

Making the Most of Equipment With an Off-Season Overhaul

We spoke with our expert to better understand the reasoning behind a seasonal equipment overhaul

If your course is seasonal, there are about three months of downtime you can use for annual equipment maintenance. But before you run off and start planning…hang on a minute. We’re not just talking about simple fine-tuning; we’re talking about a complete overhaul. To help us understand the reasoning behind a seasonal equipment overhaul and what goes into it, we spoke with Vince Gilmartin, BrightView’s Northeast Area Director.

Going Beyond Average 

According to Gilmartin, the rationale behind a comprehensive equipment overhaul is to extend the life of equipment beyond the industry standard.

“With proper preventative care, we can extend the useful life of your equipment past typical depreciation schedules” says Gilmartin. “The goal is to protect your investment by getting the most out of your equipment and ensuring it’s not just operational, but operating at an optimal level and producing quality course conditions.”

To do that, Gilmartin advises taking off-season maintenance a step further with a piece-by-piece approach.

“In a seasonal market, the winter provides the perfect opportunity to completely overhaul equipment,” says Gilmartin. “We take everything apart and ensure that every bearing, seal, hose and fitting are inspected and replaced if necessary.”

The Checklist

golf course maintenance equipment and golf carts
Before beginning  your maintenance rotation, be sure to check manufacturer guidelines for each piece of equipment and every component.

Begin by putting each piece of equipment in the maintenance rotation schedule as soon as it has finished its last task for the season. Gilmartin also recommends a thorough review of manufacturer’s guidelines for the expected lifespan of not just the piece of equipment itself, but also every component.

“Each part of a mower will only last so long,” says Gilmartin. “The goal is to understand the expected life of each item and replace prior to a catastrophic breakdown.”

Typically, the first item of business is breaking down the reels and then proceeding to grinding. Following reels, mower traction units are serviced, and after that move on to secondary equipment, such as trucks, trailers, tractors, etc.

If there is a delay waiting for parts, clean the remaining equipment and be sure to review equipment in terms of operator comfort and satisfaction. Take a look at seat belt operation, the condition of seats, steering operation and toolbox inventory. It may seem obvious, but many equipment overhauls neglect these matters and it does make a difference once that piece of equipment is back in circulation.

Accomplish the tasks above, and your savings could amount to as much as tens of thousands per year, says Gilmartin, particularly when it comes to productivity loss and player satisfaction when course conditions suffer due to poorly maintained or downed equipment.

Gilmartin adds that managing your parts inventory, following manufacturers’ recommendations, and having a well-experienced mechanic can also eliminate unnecessary and costly equipment replacement, as well as lost productivity.

Write it Down – Digitally 

Recordkeeping also plays an important role when it comes to equipment maintenance. Having detailed accounts helps manage costs, not only for your annual equipment overhaul, but also throughout the year.

Thankfully, specifically targeted online programs make it easy to track costs, stick to recommended maintenance schedules, and get an overview of which pieces of equipment are at the tipping point for replacement.

“The level of detail you can get in an automated program goes far beyond what your mechanics are able to remember or even keep track of,” says Gilmartin. “But like any program, it’s only as good as the data that goes into it. Proper training and established protocols help ensure you can maximize what a program like this can do.”

Three Months and Thousands Saved 

How long does such an overhaul take? Gilmartin estimates that for an 18-hole facility with a full-time equipment technician, a complete equipment overhaul should take about 90 days.

It’s an investment in time that’s well worth it. “Along with extending the life span of the equipment,” says Gilmartin, “making a thorough equipment overhaul part of your annual winter routine means when the playing season starts, you can bypass unfortunate and costly incidents like poor cutting from a bad bearing or turf repair on a putting green from a hydraulic leak on a worn hose.”

Outstanding Golf Course Maintenance

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