Past Ten, Next Ten: Interview with Mark Luckhardt

As we roll past the first year of this decade I've asked two standard questions to a few key players in our industry. I wanted to know their thoughts, from their unique role and perspective, on what we saw over this last ten years and what to expect in the ten to come.

As Vice President of XGD with over 20 years in the golf restoration industry, and a passion for golf as it was meant to be, Mark Luckhardt has an incredible understanding of golf course drainage with emphasis on relief of high play areas. Mark writes a blog of his own, and has recently decided to become a member of the Turfhugger team. Mark has already contributed to Turfhugger, and we look forward to his future articles. Welcome to the team Mark!

Turfhugger: To what degree have environmental issues affected your role through this past decade?

Mark Luckhardt: A very small degree really, at XGD we are relatively shielded from most environmental issues as our environmental impact is negligible. During most of our installations our areas of open “dirt” are miniscule in comparison to any or all other greenspad restorations. Even if a regrassing of the greenspads is performed, the underlying foundation of the soil profile is very much intact, hence minimal soil movement, if any at all.

With our restoration ties to TDI Golf our entire team has experience and education with running environmentally responsible golf restorations.

Turfhugger: What major changes will we see in the next 10 years that will affect your role significantly?

Mark Luckhardt: In the golf restoration business, the select suppliers and contractors that survive the next 10 years will be the cream of the crop as the next decade will be a slow grind in the golf business. There will be much less capital expenditures from each golf club. The dollars available to the golf restoration business will shrink in 10 years time. In 10 years it may be more similar to field crop type inputs on golf fairways, so few inputs from the sprayer, and more cultural practices that lead to a healthier turf sward.

The movement from green back to brown is definitely here to stay, in 10 years time it will be thrilling to see brown overtaking the green look of golf in North America. This will need to happen for golf to survive near its current popularity. At the end of the next decade there will be fewer golf courses across NA. As the game becomes less popular, the dollar inputs that go in to sustaining/maintaining the game of golf will be less, and as in any business, "only the strong(smart) will survive".

I also see such a refreshing upturn in useful measurement technology for turf managers, and the software to interpret and make their professions more efficient. At XGD, we will need to stay current on all of these new tools that are coming out as well, and use them to help prove the agronomic benefit of our greens drainage process, ensuring its viability now and in the future. In this way our role in the future will be focused on providing our clients cost-effective alternatives to sand greens, which aid the golf club in reducing other inputs to the turf plant and help it maintain an environmentally sustainable property for  years to come.