When massive storms barrel toward Florida and other coastal areas, IGM’s golf course maintenance teams waste no time working through an extensive hurricane preparedness checklist for client golf courses. Hurricanes have a significant impact on the entire business community, and golf courses are large assets that face potentially damaging exposure to wind and water threats.

“Our long experience in golf course maintenance has prepared us for all types of weather emergencies in various climates,” said Steve Gano, IGM Vice-President of Operations. “Florida presents special challenges, because so much of the state can be at risk with any hurricane. We have both coastal and inland clients, so we monitor tracking forecasts closely.”

As Gano explains, hurricane preparation really begins with best practices in daily golf course maintenance, including trimming trees and landscaping to limit debris. “Preparing for dangerous storms is easier when the basic health of the course has been managed.” IGM’s course superintendents and certified agronomists continuously address the condition of the turfgrass, bunkers, and overall aesthetics of the golf courses with which they contract. In addition, IGM superintendents follow a detailed hurricane checklist to secure courses that fall in a hurricane’s path. Key elements include:

Protecting the turf

  • Spray the turfgrass with a growth regulating product that promotes denser, healthier turf to help it withstand environmental stressors
  • Edge, clear, and mark all drop inlets, or drainage systems
  • Lower levels of ponds and water hazards, if possible
  • Remove course accessories that may present flying dangers, such as flags, trash cans, and bunker rakes

Protecting irrigation systems

  • Turn off irrigation controllers
  • Shut down power in pump station and to satellites
  • Prepare pumps for use after the storm, and store safely

Protecting equipment

  • Move equipment to a high point on the course, out of potential flood areas
  • Ensure chainsaws are operational and take it in case it’s needed to clear a return path
  • Fill all fuel tanks
  • Service the generator, if available
  • Shut down compressor, wells, and gas pumps

Other tasks include moving dry chemicals to high shelves, sandbagging clubhouse or maintenance building doorways, strapping closed dumpsters, securing course bathrooms, and turning off power to buildings.

IGM is also committed to the safety of employees. Hurricane preparedness for golf courses begins at least two days prior to expected landfall, so employees can secure their own homes and remain safe. A centralized communications system provides the means for employees to receive updates on re-opening schedules or other information.

Though golf is not the top priority to most in a storm’s path, the golf industry is important to Florida’s tourism economy and provides hundreds of jobs throughout the state. Golf courses are also valuable natural environments for plants and wildlife. IGM places a high priority on environmental stewardship, and client courses participate in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf.

IGM is a leading contractor for comprehensive golf course maintenance and management services. For more information on IGM and the professional golf course services offered, please contact Greg Plotner, Executive Vice President, 407-589-7200. Additional information may be obtained by visiting IGM’s website at golfmaintenance.com.