Golf Course Management

JUN 2019

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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32 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 06.19 As environmental stewards, golf course personnel should favor use of vegetable-based oil, grease and other lubricants for the ma- chinery that keeps the courses green. Bio-lubes (for want of a better name) have been around for millennia, having served to keep machine parts sliding and spinning long before the world's first modern oil well was drilled in Russia in 1846. Within a few de- cades, petroleum from beneath the ground became the primary source of lubrication and energy on the planet, producing the industri- alized world we now inhabit. But petroleum has many negative and per- sistent chemical components that do harm to green growing things like bentgrass, fescue, bermudagrass and all the rest of the playing surfaces and living decorations treasured by golfers. Vegetable-based oil is good for cooking and eating, and it works nicely to lubricate many elements of machinery. It easily biodegrades when released into the environment, causing little if any harm to plants and animals. Inedible vegetable oils (IVOs) provide the base for hydraulic fluids and chainsaw bar oils that are widely available and widely used. Whale oil, until it was banned by the 1973 Endangered Species Act, was a key ingredient in transmission gear lubricants and was even used to make margarine. Unwittingly, I've used IVO lubricants for many years, in the form of UltraLube general- purpose chassis grease and that brand of spray penetrating oil and chain lubricant. Recently, my favorite surplus store had $1.99 price tags on Simply Soy spray lube and Bolt Off pen - etrating oil. All those products work well, and spray oils are particularly good at leaving a rust-resisting oxidized coating that's often desirable. But it's a 60-mile round trip to the nearest store that regularly carries UltraLube. "e website listed on Simply Soy products is now up for sale, and the parent company has apparently dissolved, leaving the products mostly in liquidation and surplus sources. Current ample supplies of petroleum and natural gas limit IVO to less than 10% of the world's current industrial lubricant market, because it takes a bit of processing to turn soy- beans into products for the service shop, driv- ing up prices and reducing demand. Yet two world wars were fought with a lot of vegetable- based lubricants as nations fought over petro- leum sources, among other things. For the golf course service shop manager who cares to avoid damage to nature where possible, there are IVO-based products avail- able online, particularly from Europe, where governmental pressure encourages reduction of petroleum in favor of renewable resources. Costs may be double or triple, but there are benefits. Trimming trees with IVO bar oil re- duces chances of leaving harmful residue on the living tree or introducing traces of petro- leum fumes to fires using the harvested wood. Turf is less likely to suffer and die from lubri- Orphan oils (shop) Scott R. Nesbitt cants that drip when a machine is serviced in the field. Employees and players on the course might also appreciate the extra effort to preserve pe- troleum supplies and reduce human exposure to various chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer, as many shop lu- bricant labels proclaim. As with many elements in life, "You pay your money and take your choice." A more in-depth look at vegetable lu- bricants can be found at: www.machinery biobased-lubricants. Scott R. Nesbitt is a freelance writer and former GCSAA staff member. He lives in Cleveland, Ga. Service shop spray lubricants made from vegetable oils work as well as those based on petroleum in many applications, but the plant-based products are often hard to find or are no longer being made because of low demand and higher prices. Photo by Scott Nesbitt

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