Monday, Monday

Like the great tune from the Mamas and Papas from 1966 my recent blog post on why clubs are closed on Mondays generated considerable feedback. One respondent, a highly capable and respected general manager at an upscale client club of ours provided the most detailed and comprehensive insight and shared some thoughts as follows:

  1. The practice began so many decades ago, the old truthful excuses no longer are. Some agronomical practices performed way back then were very disruptive.
  2. In addition, back in the day before there were excellent irrigation systems, a great deal of watering was done with manual sprinklers and hoses strewn all about. Furthermore, there were many courses then that weren’t even irrigated except for the greens complexes so Monday was watering day for the rest of the golf course, which would of course prohibit play even after they had finished drenching the course.
  3. Another key component is that there are many facilities where the superintendent is the knowledge base and everyone else on the crew is basically just an order taker. In a facility like mine I have a Director of Agronomy, a Superintendent and two assistant superintendents. We also have several below them on our org chart capable of making real decisions and directing the crew. There was also in the past very little work done on Sundays and real work resumed Mondays with two days of work to catch up on.
  4. It’s always about the money today, even if they don’t know why they started it so long ago. Especially depending on the state’s labor laws as well and if any union requirements exist. For instance, in California, the 6th day in a row that someone works is time and a half, the 7th day is automatically double time. Back in the day, you might mow greens a few times a week, tees maybe twice, fairways once or twice, roughs once a week. Certainly when a facility is driven by the membership/customer, they would force all of that onto Mondays so as not to inconvenience themselves. Prior to the advent of modern equipment, a Monday was the only day.
  5. Most better clubs/courses aren’t going to allow golfers to come and go as they please so a certain amount of staffing (to them) is necessary to ensure only authorized persons are accessing the facility. There is also the security/safety/liability aspects we both know all too well. Its a big deal to protect the asset, specifically the greens. Word gets around pretty quickly that you can sneak onto a facility. Monitoring restrooms, etc is also a bigger deal than most realize. We clean and monitor supplies/operability MANY times each day. Same goes for water stations, garbage, etc, etc.
  6. There are certain staff where clubs don’t employ redundant roles. Many don’t have multiple spray techs, mechanics, etc, etc. Mondays are really more about catching up for the average facility.
  7. Now…we are open seven days a week during our peak from May through mid-September. When we begin closing on Monday it is for two different reasons.
    • Golf: We begin the process of preparing the course for the winter. We take a lot of our rough and native areas down to prepare it for hibernation. During normal play our team isn’t allowed to criss cross around the course, they must stay on paths, pause when they encounter a member and shut down their equipment. In fact, at a facility like ours its unlikely a member has ever seen our crew with power equipment or mowers. We are mindful of noise and the optics. We wouldn’t take down or trim a tree while we are open for play. Average places might, we wouldn’t.
    • Mondays are also a just in case slack day. In the event, and it happens more than you realize, a badly needed repair is sometimes patched up on a Wednesday with the real repair taking place on Monday. In the clubhouse, that’s typically when sewers/septic systems are serviced/repaired, deep cleans in the kitchen, hood and equipment servicing, health inspections, awkward deliveries, etc. You may not think about it but if the kitchen is closed, other staff must either pack a lunch or leave campus to get it. There is no such thing as a lunch “hour” if the crews have to leave campus. There are workarounds of course like sending someone to pick it up and bring it back but we cascade lunches during a normal day to maximize efficiency.
  8. Finally, something that affects us (and likely all northern/northeast clubs) is that we are seasonal and some of our labor pool moves on to their winter jobs, they go back to high school or college so our main crew might have to perform duties they wouldn’t otherwise be asked to do.
  9. Monday outings are (expletive). That’s a feel good “donation” to a charity or a pain free revenue center that doesn’t hurt the member but it adversely affects staff and the facility.

You know our facility and we just do the right thing for the Club and the course and if someone doesnt like it, tough. For instance, today we closed the course for a week to aerate every square inch of the campus without interruption. My guy believes every tee should be done on the same day, greens, fairways, rough, etc. But he is anal. He believes if he punched and took a core on half the greens today with a plan to do the same on the others tomorrow, the weather could change, rain could fall, temps could drop, etc which would cause one set to heal differently than the other. Every green on our campus will stimp identically as well as practice greens, etc. Keep in mind though, we keep our course conditions on a daily basis better than most facilities on their best member-guest day.

So, as they say in court when an attorney asks the same question seeking a different answer, “asked and answered”. It seems as though the moral of the story is that every club is different and has its own culture. In some cases, there is good reason to close on Mondays. Others, not so much.

Like most practices, clubs should be sensitive to the members’ desires and of course their willingness to pay for them. As illustrated above, costs must be considered and a decision made on what’s best for the club, which includes the membership, staff and economics. If we were advising a club on this practice, I’d first ask a lot of questions, many based on the GM’s comments above. These questions would focus on the club’s goals, various facility issues and, culture and economics. There are advantages and disadvantages to both closure and opening. What works for your club?