How can Turf Gamechanger help reduce golf course maintenance costs?

By: April 22, 2024

Have you ever noticed the diverse range of lawnmowers that golf clubs use to preserve their courses and create an exceptional golf experience? It’s worth pondering whether there could be a more sustainable solution, wouldn’t you agree?

I started thinking and searching if there was a solution to this question. This is how I discovered the Turf Gamechanger.

I got so excited about their solution that I felt I must interview Ilkka Kankkunen, the CEO of Turf Gamechanger Oy.

Turf Gamechanger on the green

Emerging trends in golf course maintenance equipment are the usage of AI and automation, both of which aim to reduce costs and make maintenance more productive.

Turf Gamechanger combines both in the TGC method, where Precision Maintenance software is used to collect maintenance information from the course and, after analysis of the data, create maintenance instructions and working parameters for TGC machine automation.

The TGC Maintain machine uses the ISOBUS standard to automatically adjust the maintenance work’s working parameters according to the GPS position.

What are the biggest challenges of golf course maintenance?

The current golf course maintenance method has not evolved much in past decades, and the productivity is not as high as expected.

The current method requires many different machines and a large workforce, which raises the cost of operations too high compared to the quality achieved.

Finding properly trained maintenance personnel for golf courses is also challenging because the work is typically manual and, in many cases, seasonal.

Turf Gamechanger on a golf course

Do we really need to have so many types of mowers to achieve a superb golf experience?

There are different kinds of grass to maintain on the golf course. Greens are the most delicate areas, and special mowers are justified for them.

Fairways and different types of rough also require special maintenance, but it might be possible to have mowers that can handle multiple areas in this area.

Automation and electrical autonomous mowers are being introduced on golf courses, hopefully reducing the cost of mowing. However, traditional mowers will still be needed.

One way of reducing the cost of operation is to have bigger form factor mowers, which would then require automated functions to help the driver cope with larger machines.

Turf Gamechanger has automated driving and section control functions to rise automatically and lower mowing reels as needed.

Turf Gamechanger in work

How do you automate the maintenance of the golf course?

Turf Gamechanger golf course maintenance method combines intelligence machines with back-end software. Precision Maintenance software is similar to what has been used in agriculture for decades.

In agriculture, yield is optimized by periodically analyzing growth from satellite pictures and measuring the harvest produced in a specific area.

These measurements specify next year’s maintenance in every square meter field to achieve the biggest possible yield.

The TGC Precision Maintenance back-end software collects information on the golf course during the whole season, and all future maintenance tasks are planned beforehand.

ISOBUS task files are created to automatically adjust the working parameters of the work devices based on the precise location information.

For example, fertilizing of the fairways can be adjusted based on 2,5×2,5-meter squares where the amount of applied fertilizer is automatically set on each square.

Basically, all maintenance tasks conducted with the TGC Maintain machine are automatically assisted, so the driver is just monitoring the machine’s work.

This ensures that the quality of work is as high as possible and that it is extremely efficient.

Turf Gamechanger on the fairway

How can golf clubs ensure that their golf courses remain open during renovations?

When golf courses age, they will have deformations and depressions on the fairways and greens. Traditionally, fixing these has required heavy earth-moving machinery.

This method also means that play is stopped for the duration of the renovation work.

Due to the unique structure of the Turf Gamechanger machinery, which can combine up to 8 maintenance tasks (mowing, aerating or verticutting, debris collection, overseeding, fertilizing, top dressing, brushing, and rolling) into one machine, we can use this special feature to alter the surfaces without breaking them.

For example, a fairway with several water-collecting depressions can be evened out with special maintenance routing, which is repeated a few times depending on the depressions’ depth.

The TGC Maintain machine uses a solid-time aerator with a small twisting action.

This will raise the surface of the turf by 2-3cm, and top-dressing material is applied immediately after the aerator and brushed directly into the holes.

This will ensure that the surface will stay elevated. This treatment is then repeated several times per season to achieve the intended shape of the fairway or green.

During this renovation operation, the golf course will be open and playable, and players will not even notice that its shape has been repaired.

Turf Gamechanger back side

Can you provide evidence that our investment in a Turf Gamechanger will yield quick returns?

Based on the extensive test and evaluation program we conducted during the season 2022-2023, we have collected evidence of the savings that can be achieved with the TGC maintenance method and machine.

Even in the golf courses here up north, where the golf season is only 8-9 months long, the Turf Gamechanger method can save up to 30% of the annual maintenance costs.

In addition to the savings, the overall quality of the golf course is elevated.

Also, the TGC method is a more environmentally friendly way of maintaining golf courses. It saves lots of fuel, which means directly lower CO2 emissions.

It reduces the amount of fertilizers and top dressing materials used and can help to reduce the amount of water needed for irrigation.

These will lower the cost of maintenance work. In addition, the Turf Gamechanger method only requires 20% of the personnel needed compared to the current maintenance method and machinery used.

This interview is brought to you by Turf Gamechanger Oy.