ValleyCrest instead focused on being
“[We are] not doing more with less, but
doing so much more with a dollar, and one
of the major ways we accomplished that
is reimagining how we source labor, how
we deploy labor across the course and how
we manage labor across the work day,”
One of the main changes for Taghon’s
team is the integration of a host of part-timers. For instance, Taghon added a
handful to specialize in mowing greens and
fairways and raking bunkers for morning
hours only — displacing full-timers who
would do these morning tasks then stick
around to find something else to do in the
In some cases, Taghon added two fairway guys or two greens mowers so they
could get things done faster. These “
specialists,” as ValleyCrest calls their hourly
employees, then go home in the afternoon.
Or they’re off to their next job or school.
“If you think about it, one of the high-est-paid, hourly-wage employees at many
private clubs I came from is the guy who
mows fairways or roughs, and he’s worked
his way up the ranks,” said Taghon, who’s in
his sixth year at Angeles National. “That’s
the king position. He’s been there 20-plus
years, and he’s making something like $18
A leaner approach
Angeles National Golf Club in Sunland,
Calif., has taken an approach to agronomics that few courses would consider —
replacing full-time staff with part-timers to
mow and run other expensive turf equipment.
But the move, part of a larger effort to
be more productive, has cut maintenance
costs by 20 percent at the daily-fee course.
And the course has not experienced a
decline in quality or other issues.
“I get excited about it because it really
works,” said superintendent Matt Taghon,
who started his turf career at private clubs
and is accustomed to having larger staffs.
“And as we get going at it, we get better and
The driving force behind Angeles
National’s enhanced operations is a labor
management concept called VC360 —
named after ValleyCrest, which oversees
the day-to-day maintenance operations at
the Nicklaus-designed course in northern
Los Angeles County.
The principle behind VC360 is the “Lean
Six Sigma,” a methodology that relies on a
collaborative team effort to improve per-
formance by systematically removing vari-
ous forms of waste that stem from things
such as time, inventory, motion, waiting,
over-production and over-processing.
ValleyCrest hired a corporate logistics
engineer, Mark Haines, and borrowed
from established lean manufacturing prac-
tices used by companies such as Toyota.
“(VC360) is based on proven techniques
that have been used on factory floors and
manufacturing environments for years
and years,” said John Crowder, vice president of business development and marketing at ValleyCrest. “Basically, it’s about
optimizing your available resources, labor,
materials and equipment and how do we
orchestrate these together for maximum
ValleyCrest worked on the issue with
Angeles National for four years, learning
“how to crack the code for golf courses,”
including more than six months of painstakingly shadowing Taghon and his maintenance team’s daily routines.
“We used to be part of that whole downward cycle of cutting budgets and cutting
budgets, but we ultimately came to the
conclusion that we can’t responsibly do
what we’re supposed to do for our maintenance partners if we continue that mind-set,” Crowder said. “So we took a whole
different view and tried to turn that equation on its head.”
How part-time specialists are helping one course
maximize productivity. BY SCOTT KAUFFMAN
“I can now get two guys for less and
work them half as much. Start to do
the math, and it adds up.”
—MATT TAGHON, SUPERINTENDENT, ANGELES NATIONAL
Using labor more efficiently
is key to reducing costs.