By Lawrence Aylward/Editorial Director

Would you consider using propane to power the major equipment on your golf course?

You might get your chance.

Soon, golf course superintendents will hear more about propane to power mowers and other maintenance equipment — and that the fuel can power engines on mowers and equipment just as well as gas and diesel fuel to ensure quality of cut. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), which promotes the safe, efficient use of odorized propane gas as a preferred energy resource, is beginning a serious push in the golf course maintenance industry to get superintendents to use propane-powered equipment. While propane is used mainly to power appliances, grills and patio heaters, PERC believe the fuel’s versatility and reliability can make it a more popular energy choice.

PERC is teaming with Tucson, Arizona-based R&R Products, a manufacturer of replacement parts for golf equipment that also recently released a line of propane-powered mowers to the golf industry, to conduct a test demonstration of the mowers at eight golf courses throughout the U.S., including courses operated by Billy Casper Golf and Marriott Golf.

Superintendents at those courses have agreed to use the equipment, including a fairway mower, rough mower, riding greens mower and bunker rake, for an entire golf season. Some of the courses began using the equipment this month.

PERC will collect data from the demos on fuel usage, performance and other factors. The organization will share the data with R&R Products and other mower manufacturers, including The Toro Co., John Deere Golf and Jacobsen that are interested in pursuing propane-powered equipment.

Propane is a nontoxic hydrocarbon, sometimes referred to as liquefied petroleum, that’s produced from natural gas processing and crude oil refining in roughly equal amounts. How can the golf course maintenance industry benefit from using it? Wishart lists the benefits:

• Propane contains up to 80 percent less emissions than gas or diesel fuel.

• Propane is economically viable because it costs up to 25 percent less than diesel and gas.

• Propane provides the power needed to operate engines on golf mowing equipment.

• Propane-powered equipment requires less maintenance (fewer oil changes).

• Superintendents don’t have to worry about propane leaking on putting greens and killing turf.

• Propane is homegrown — nearly 97 percent of propane consumed in the U.S. is produced in North America.

Indeed, propane sounds like a viable alternative fuel.

But it’s success depends on golf course superintendents’ willingness to try it.