What is meant by benchmarking golf course conditions?


In the business world, I think most people would agree that benchmarking & evaluating information is an important part of management.  The golf industry is no different where everything is benchmarked and evaluated from golf rounds, membership sales to food and beverage.  But what does the word mean?

The word BENCHMARK itself is defined in the Oxford dictionary as, “A standard point of reference against which things may be compared and assessed.” 

The word EVALUATE is defined as “to form an idea of the amount, number, or value of; to assess”

Everything is benchmarked and measured except the core asset of the club – the golf course! 

Why  don’t we benchmark and evaluate course conditions?

To the trained superintendent the reasons are obvious.  We are dealing with over 150 acres of land of which 75 of these acres is maintained turf forming tees, fairways, rough and greens

How can you establish a benchmark and evaluate conditions with that amount of land?  Not to mention mother nature changing things from one day to the next; and then have to report these conditions!

Nevertheless, as golf course superintendents, we are accountable for the conditions and for reporting these conditions to stakeholders and other relevant parties. 

We must be able to answer the question, “how are the course conditions?”

AND, answer this question in a way that can be easily understood by all parties. 

How can we be accountable and accurately report course conditions?

The answer is to benchmark and evaluate golf course conditions using a rating system that consists of precise criteria that most significantly affect playability for your club.

Criteria such as no signs of weeds on the tees or no signs of mechanical damage are quantified and expressed as optimum criteria or best possible conditions. 


Benchmark then continue to Evaluate –

Using a rating system you can create the starting point by which to compare all future maintenance evaluations and that is your benchmark evaluation your initial evaluation.   You can now take your understanding and experience with course conditions and report them in a way that is easily understood by all relative parties.  They can SEE a monthly snapshot of the overall conditions of the course,  of the greens or other features as well as trends for each feature.

To briefly summarize, every golf club should –

  1. Establish the optimum course conditions that most significantly affect playability for your club.

  2. Conduct a benchmark evaluation, your starting point.

  3. Conduct monthly evaluations using the same critieria.

  4. Report these conditions as part of your regular monthly reports. 

As golf course superintendents, we can answer the questions, “Are the overall conditions improving or declining?”  Are the greens conditions improving or declining?  Which golf holes are doing well and which need more attention?”  And we can answer them in a way that is easily understood by all!


And truly hope it can help you.  

Tony Taylor, CGCS

Tony Taylor, CGCS

Golf course maintenance evaluations & consulting for nearly 40 years in the USA and Asia.

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