Proper maintenance starts with keeping your equipment clean

In today’s economy, turfgrass managers are being asked to stretch budget dollars farther than ever before. In years past it was not uncommon for a golf course to get new equipment every few years or to get a whole new fleet of equipment every 3 to 4 years through the lease packages offered by many turfgrass equipment manufacturers. Today, however, the purchase of new equipment is not looked upon very favorably by many boards of directors or owners. Equipment technicians are being asked to stretch the equipment a couple more years, and to some the only way to accomplish this task is to take better care of the equipment as a whole.

The most important aspect of maintaining the equipment, according to several turfgrass managers that I spoke with, is to keep the equipment clean. Matt Kregel, golf course superintendent of The Club at Strawberry Creek in Kenosha, Wis., is “a true believer that equipment operates better and more efficient when it is properly cleaned and taken care of.” Mr. Kregel also states that properly cleaned equipment allows his turf technician the opportunity to perform daily adjustments to cutting units, as well as accomplish preventative maintenance in a timely manner.

Paul Worley, equipment technician, at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn., is adamant about the equipment being properly cleaned and maintained. With over 30 years of experience in the turfgrass equipment maintenance field, Mr. Worley has found that properly cleaned equipment is easier to maintain and allows for diagnosis of problems better. Mr. Worley takes the time from his busy schedule to pressure-wash almost every piece of equipment that he works on, so much that he states that “the pressure washer is the most-used piece of equipment around here.”

The Honors Course also recently integrated a “car wash” style pressure washer station into the renovation of their golf car storage facility much to the delight of Larry Broom, co-caddy master. Of the many golf courses that Mr. Broom has worked at, he has never experienced a system this efficient in both time spent and result achieved. The Honors Course installed a PRO Car Wash pressure washer which is located inside of the golf car storage building. The controls for the golf car wash station are located outside of the building and are exactly like those found at most drive-through car washes. The system is set up with the pressure washer gun on a swivel so all areas of the golf car can be reached, and Mr. Broom says their setup “can easily wash two golf cars at once,” thus saving time and money. The system seems very efficient and with minimal setup costs can save the appearance and lengthen the life of your golf car fleet investment.

When thinking about the proper cleaning and maintenance in the turfgrass equipment and golf car fleet at our facilities, we must also consider the result of all this cleaning. The rinsate from the cleaning of the turfgrass maintenance equipment and the golf car fleet will most likely contain grass particles, oil and petroleum particles, as well as fertilizer and chemical particle residue. As we care for our equipment fleet we must also take into consideration the environment and the surface and ground water that the rinsate could potentially enter.

At The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay in Harrison, Tenn., we have a simple oil and water separator system that is connected to our turfgrass maintenance building septic system. The rinsate from our equipment is collected in the oil and water separator and filtered before it enters our septic tanks and is then pumped to the existing field lines. This process eliminates the possibility of direct release or contact with a surrounding body of water or stream.

Matt Kregel of Strawberry Creek has gone a step further in his protection of the environment, and has installed a self-contained ESD Waste2Water closed loop wash down area which reuses the water used to wash off equipment, saving on water costs and also conserving water. “Any oils or greases or residual chemicals stay within the system and are treated with the aeration system and the microbes. The grass separator collects all grass clippings so they can be composted on property,” states Mr. Kregel. The closed loop system keeps the wash down area neat and clean and eliminates the foul odor that many wash areas are known for, while at the same time protecting the environment from potential harm.

Maintaining the investment in our turfgrass equipment and golf car fleet is also an investment in our future, both of the industry and of our environment. It is every turf manager and fleet manager’s responsibility to look for ways to extend the life of the equipment we have been entrusted to maintain, and keeping the equipment clean will allow it to last longer and operate more efficiently.

Paul is a GCSAA certified golf course superintendent
at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay in Harrison, Tenn.
The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay is proud to be a
Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and a Groundwater Guardian Green Site. He can be reached at or

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