Final survey data from an equipment demonstration program shows golf maintenance equipment powered by propane can dramatically reduce emissions while saving superintendents money through lower fuel and maintenance costs compared to similar equipment powered by traditional fuels.
“Propane scored really well with the superintendents and, possibly just as important, with their operators and service technicians,” said Jeremy Wishart, deputy director of business development at the Propane Education & Research Council. “They got to see firsthand that propane has some incredible environmental, financial, and operational benefits.”
The Propane Education & Research Council’s Golf Demo Program tested propane maintenance equipment at eight high-profile golf courses for up to a year from 2015 to 2016. In return for the equipment, each course recorded detailed information about each machine operating on propane, which was reported back to PERC.
Superintendents give propane’s performance a thumbs up
Asked to measure on a scale from 1 to 5 for a variety of equipment performance outputs, the superintendents and their crews gave high marks to operating with propane. Most impressively, 75 percent of the superintendents in the demo program reported an improved perception of propane after the program, and responses averaged a 4 when asked about the superintendents’ willingness to recommend propane-powered equipment to others.
Superintendents gave high marks to questions aimed at understanding how propane fit in at their course, too:
• “Ease of integration” at the course received an above-average rating from the group.
• “Training of propane refueling” received a 4.5 average rating.
• “Support from the propane industry” received a 4.5 average rating.
• “Performance of fuel delivery” received a 4.25 average rating.
Emissions analysis proves propane to be the clean option
Propane proved to be a winner for the environment as well. Every piece of propane equipment used on the courses reduced greenhouse gas emissions across the board, according to an emissions analysis by Nexight Group that compared the propane equipment to similar machines powered by gasoline and diesel engines. Using engine certification data from the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resource Board, the report compared carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions produced by the different fuels.
Compared to gasoline-powered equipment, the propane units:
• Reduced CO emissions up to 44 percent.
• Reduced NOx emissions up to 27 percent.
Compared to diesel equipment, the propane units:
• Reduced NOx emissions up to 94 percent.
• Reduced CO2 emissions up to 17 percent.
In creating the Golf Demo Program, PERC collaborated with Audubon International and R&R Products, the propane-powered turf equipment provider, to select eight courses with an established commitment to sustainable practices to take part in the program. The courses that participated were:
• Stone Mountain Golf Club, Stone Mountain, Georgia.
• Fernandina Beach Golf Club, Fernandina Beach, Florida.
• Marriott Desert Springs Golf Club, Palm Desert, California.
• The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club, St. Petersburg, Florida.
• Columbus Municipal Golf Courses, Columbus, Ohio.
• Reston National Golf Course, Reston, Virginia.
• George W. Dunne National, Oak Forest, Illinois.
• Eagles Pride Golf Course, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
Each course was leased four pieces of equipment from a variety of R&R Products — a Reel Max 331LP finish cut reel mower, Reel Max 744LP4 gang fairway mower, Reel Max 544 LP4 5-gang fairway mower, Greens Max 2200LP riding greens mower, and Sand Max 521LP utility vehicle — all powered by propane.