Maintenance Equipment

Maintenance equipment is the workhorse of a golf course; everything from mowers and sweepers to spreaders and sprayers. The playability and desirability to a course is dependent largely on the equipment that maintains it. There are many options, brands and opinions as to what equipment is most suited for any specific course but if there is no long term plan to reserve for replacement of this vital part of the course the long term financial health of the course will likely be impacted, desirability will be reduced and the course will not be as competitive in the market as it may have been in the past.


  • When equipment is purchased it is extremely important it is also well maintained as the useful life of the equipment will be severely diminished if not properly stored and maintenance on a regular basis. 
  • Repairing parts that are made for heavy use and wear “wear parts” before larger scale refurbishment/repair of the equipment is needlessly needed.
  • Having a well-protected location to house the equipment from the elements.
  • Having a maintenance staff/contract in place to ensure equipment is properly cared for on a regular basis.

Most golf course maintenance equipment (mowers specifically) have economic useful lives of only 5-10 years.  After this time period much of this equipment will cost more to maintain than is economically feasible (i.e. sell old equipment for newer which have less maintenance expenses and more reliability).  

maintenance equipment

golf course

Golf Course

Golf courses have become extremely competitive with one another especially during times of economic turmoil when courses will often reduce their fees to draw players. One of the best ways a course can distinguish itself from lower quality courses and to attract their target player is to adequately refurbish the course itself. Greens, bunkers, fairways, tee boxes, even cart paths have useful life expectancies after which they will typically become old and “tired” looking.


Typical useful life and issues:


  • Greens – 15-30 years (compacting, drainage, irrigation restrictions, playability) 
  • Bunkers – 5-7 years (sand depth, drainage, liners)
  • Tee Boxes – 50-20 years (size, useable area, level)
  • Fairways – Wide ranging and potential long life of over 30 years when properly maintained
  • Cart Path – 15-30 years (cracking, root damage, drainage)


A replacement reserve study will guide a course in adequately reserving for these longer term costs that are often overlooked or ignored with sever financial consequences. Expensive loans are usually the result of ignoring these costs which tend to arise between the 20-30 year marks.


All golf courses have a character about them that attracts their specific target player. Whatever this is, it is important to make sure the course continues to have or elevate this characteristic if the course has the long term goal of retaining the level and type of player that it has grown accustom to. Adequately planning and reserving for these expenses in a manner which is realistic and not financially burdensome, in this competitive environment, is not easy but is possible for when utilizing the services of a professional. 

Lakes / Ponds / Water Features

Because most ponds, lakes and water features on golf courses were manmade they typically have man made liners that where often sold as long life items (would last longer than the course) however over time these manmade ponds with synthetic liners have shown to be failing at a more predictable time period of 30-35 years.

These pond liners are extremely expensive to replace and are often the single largest line item expense we have in our replacement reserve study. This is especially troubling as most courses have not been reserving for them as they had the expectation that they will never fail. 

We recommended courses hire geological companies that provide lake/pond assessments as they will utilize scuba gear and visually inspect the pond to determine what type of liner it has and provide an estimated remaining useful life which can then be incorporated into the replacement reserve study.

Additionally many ponds with clay/soil liners also develop cracks and deterioration over time which requires draining of the pond to add additional clay/soil layers or install a synthetic liner. Both clay/soil liner and synthetic liners are extremely costly and disruptive to the playability of a golf course.

  • Courses will often realize there is an issue with the pond after significant increases in water use as maintenance crews try to keep the lake/pond water level adequate. 
ponds and lakes

irrigation systems

Irrigation Systems

Unfortunately some of the most costly components to the golf course are not visible. The irrigation systems which are so heavily relied on to adequately water the course will eventually wear and will require large scale replacement anywhere from 10-30 years. This wide life expectancy can be attributed to course geography and demand on the system.

Typically as irrigation systems fail the maintenance crews will be devoting more time to fixing leaks and tracking down issues than maintaining the course for appearance and playability. Other than the costs associated with the failing irrigation systems a course will typically suffer from an overworked maintenance crew, neither of which is desirable or cost efficient long term.

Typical Useful life of irrigation components:

  • Controllers  - 10 to15 years
  • Heads/Valves/Piping – 10 to 30 years
  • Pump Stations – 15 to 20 years

*Note: During irrigation renovations upgrades to newer technologies will typically help to lower costs associated with water usage and fertilizer. 

Cart Fleet

The cart fleet is an extremely expenses component of the golf course which has become a very important and desirable feature players have come to expect of their favorite courses. Our replacement reserve studies​ take into account the actual costs of replacement as well as large expense items for replacement of the batteries and seats which will not typically last the life useful life of the cart.

Adequate maintenance and cover from the elements is extremely important for the resale value of a cart fleet where a course can see a percentage of the original investment returned and which can be applied to a replacement fleet.

Consideration should be given to the quality of future fleets and adequately reserving or them as many courses have sought to improve the quality of their cart fleet as player expectations have increased. 

cart fleet