With summer—and golf season—in full swing, golf courses across the country are enjoying an influx of golfers and a dramatic increase in activity on their courses. For course superintendents and managers, this busy time of year is packed with professional obligations: in addition to carefully tending turf and infrastructure, managers are tasked with trying to manage (and minimize) recurring, unavoidable costs. While the average duffer might not think about the complex and costly logistical realities that makes their 18 holes possible, course and facility managers deal with those issues every day. One of the most significant of those costs is fuel. With dozens of pieces of maintenance equipment as well as generators, mowers, and sprayers that require regular fuel, fuel purchasing is a necessity.
That doesn’t have to break the bank, however. Golf course management professionals who understand how to be strategic in their fuel purchasing planning and policies will discover that they can satisfy their fueling needs without damaging the bottom line or creating an ongoing headache for themselves. Superintendents and managers should have a working understanding of the key considerations to review when assessing their fueling needs and budget, the different strategies and methods that can be utilized to maximize efficiency and spend, and the important questions to ask when vetting a fueling partner or vendor to ensure that they fully understand and can address your fueling needs.
Evaluate your equipment and fuel needs
The first step in the budgeting process is determining how much fuel you need. Remember to include all equipment in this review, including basic utility and maintenance vehicles, off-road vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, on-road vehicles, mowers, tractors, sprayers and generators. To get an accurate figure, keep a log of how much fuel each piece of equipment consumes in a given time interval. This can be time-consuming, but the pay-off will be well worth it.
Keep a detailed inventory of the make and model of each piece of equipment, including maintenance schedules and projected replacement schedules. Newer equipment tends to have better fuel efficiency—as well as potentially different EPA fueling standards. Recall that the EPA now requires all new on-road and off-road diesel vehicles and equipment to be equipped with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology, which requires the use of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF). Generators now fall under the same guidelines. Consequently, course management professionals will need to determine if they need to acquire DEF as part of their regular fueling program.
The primary goal of these inventory and tracking protocols is, of course, is to determine how much diesel fuel and how much gasoline you are using. Many vendors can provide dual tanks to enable courses that require both types of fuel to efficiently purchase and store their supply. Understanding how much fuel you need will help you properly plan—to purchase enough to operate without outages, but avoiding wasteful and sometimes extremely costly overabundance.
Evaluate the Convenience of On-Site fueling
On-site fueling is a distinct advantage for seasonal businesses like golf courses. At Atlas, we offer a wide variety of direct fueling options. You tell us when and where to deliver and our trucks will pump fuel directly into your equipment or bulk tanks. We also offer other value added solutions such as:
- Remote tank monitoring services
- TankShield bulk fuel theft protection
- Truck to office technology with customized fuel delivery reports
Know what questions to ask your fueling partner
Finally, make sure that you understand what questions to ask a prospective fueling partner. Can they deliver 24/7/365? Can they make deliveries during off-peak hours, and in a manner that does not disrupt players or impede/diminish the recreational experience? Ask about standards of service and professionalism, as well: are drivers/delivery personnel polite and professional, wearing clean uniforms and using state-of-the-art equipment? While they might not work directly for you, everything that happens at your facility reflects on you and your course. The bottom line is that for golf course management professionals, affordable and reliable fueling should not be a luxury: it should be par for the course.