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Guest Column - November 2007

Managing Wear and Overuse

Association Guest Column: Sports Turf Managers Association

By Mike Andresen, CSFM



F
ield overuse is an issue that frustrates sports turf managers at all levels. It is a fact that more demands are being placed on facilities, and more events will be programmed for next year than this past year. Fields suffer, staff suffers, and if nothing is done to maximize the playability of your facilities, in the end, players suffer. Accept that fields can only take so much abuse before they break down or fail. By instituting a few simple policies, I believe we can certainly extend the useful life of your fields and also improve the quality of those fields during their lifetime.

Utilize field audits and checklists. A pre-season audit allows you to evaluate conditions of your facility prior to the season. A periodic in-season audit lets you know how the season is progressing and how the facility is holding up to traffic. A post-season audit is a snapshot of how your facility withstood the barrage of overuse from a season's worth of play. Too many of us are guilty of bemoaning, "We host too many events." A series of audits allows you to quantify the impact that the busy schedule had on your entire facility over a year. It will allow you to prioritize changes and improvements, both for management practices and for purchasing.

Define one person to be the spokesperson for your fields, and put this person on your upper management team. I'm referring to the sports turf manager. If fields become unplayable or dangerous, activity at the facility grinds to a halt. Field managers are very passionate about their work, and their mission is to host high-quality competition all season long. Those games in October are just as important as the games in April, and the sports turf manager understands that. Hire a qualified person, and let them do their job.


Resources

For information on management strategies for field overuse, go to www.stma.org, click on the Resources Tab and either warm season or cool season grass. STMA has also collaborated with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and USA Football to provide an Athletic Field Safety Checklist. For a copy of the checklist, contact STMA headquarters at (800) 323-3875.