A Positive Turnaround in a Challenging Year

January 21, 2021, Department, by Brad Tullberg, Don Berry and Matt Olsonoski

2021 February Operations A Positive Turnaround in a Challengingg Year 410

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How city of Brooklyn Park (Minnesota) golf courses kept up maintenance in 2020

The city of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, located on the northern edge of the Twin Cities, is a fast-growing, innovative community with 60 parks, 53 miles of trails, two ice arenas, multiple sports complexes and more. Two centerpieces for the city are its popular municipal golf courses, Brookland Golf Park and Edinburgh USA, which are considered Brooklyn Park’s crown jewels.

When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit, Brooklyn Park suffered budget constraints like many other communities, especially in maintenance. Fortunately, the city was able to rise to the occasion and turn what could have been a rough year for the park system into a major success.

Serving the People

When COVID-19 forced golf courses and parks to pause activities in the spring 2020, it also put staff members into a holding pattern and kept residents from accessing many outdoor amenities. As more information became available about the virus and how to safely engage in outdoor activities, the decision was made by Brooklyn Park to reopen the trails and golf courses in mid-April.

The community responded favorably. More people than ever took to the trails, and the city’s golf courses saw a surge of activity with nearly 30 percent more rounds of golf played in 2020 than in 2019. The increase in public play helped offset the loss of corporate outings and reduced golf shop sales.

Essential Maintenance

With more golf being played and the desire to keep the courses open for as many hours as possible each day to meet the need, staff worked hard to keep the courses well-maintained and safe. Equipment was sanitized before and after each use, and landscaping was maintained by laying additional fertilizer.

The biggest challenge was irrigation. There already had been discussions and budget meetings about the need to upgrade the aging irrigation systems, and the increased activity on the courses brought the issue to the forefront. The current system at the Edinburgh USA course was installed in 1986. Several renovations have kept it operating, but the iron deposits in Brooklyn Park’s hard water had taken a toll. There were constant breakdowns, and one piping system had to be shut down completely.

City leaders determined that an upgraded system would be a wise choice for the community. A new irrigation system would not only reduce the cost of constant repairs, but also would help improve the turf health and overall beauty of the popular course. In addition, modern irrigation systems deliver water much more efficiently, helping reduce costs, conserve resources and meet sustainability goals.

Final budget approval for the new irrigation system is expected soon, with the renovation to take place in the summer of 2021.

Lessons Learned

When it comes to dealing with challenges, it helps to have a plan and keep an optimistic attitude. That can’t always be the case — it was hard on seasonal staff to unexpectedly be told to stay home in the spring — but for the most part, planning made a big difference in turning a potentially challenging year into a successful one. It was extremely helpful to have already recognized and discussed the need for a new irrigation system. The more municipalities look ahead and prepare for future needs, the easier the solutions will be to implement.

Brad Tullberg is Parks and Facilities Manager at the city of Brooklyn Park. Don Berry is Director of golf at Edinburgh USA golf course. Matt Olsonoski is Golf Course Superintendent at Edinburgh USA golf course.