LX builds on Kubota legacy for Old Fold Manor

Jane Carleyin Machinery & Mechanics

An ongoing programme of improvements is reaping rewards for Old Fold Manor Golf Club in Hertfordshire, with Kubota's latest LX compact tractor tasked with helping to manage the impressive workload.

Established 110 years ago, the club has 400 members and a burgeoning academy and junior section.

The Par 71 parkland course is mainly on clay which receives plenty of care and attention from course manager Mark Burniston and his team to maintain standards and keep up with a busy programme of in house and outside competitions, with a round of the Clutch Pro Tour and a PGA event among this year's highlights.

"We've had Kubota tractors for many years," explains Mark, "and some seven years ago added an STV-40 compact. We found it offered much more power for its weight compared to our old L5740, which is still doing good service, and was ideal to use on the greens."

This year, a new LX-401, which has replaced the ST series in Kubota's range, joined the armoury and is deployed for eight hours a day, on at least five days a week.

"We use compact tractors for blowing on roughs and fairways, plus we're spraying once or twice a week," explains Mark. "Then we have three 'maintenance weeks' a year when we can be spreading up to 60 tonnes of sand spreading on greens, approaches and tees, and using a Pro Core, along with monthly sand spreading and coring."

"The LX is perfect for this as it has lots of power and will help us to keep up; I haven't seen anything else on the market to compare."

The 40hp LX-401 has a three-range hydrostatic transmission for easy operation which has proved popular with the club.

"It's so convenient to drive around the course, and the cruise control is ideal to set a speed for work such as verti-draining and spraying. New features on the LX such as an A/B switch to preselect engine revs also save fuel and wear on the engine when moving between greens," comments Mark.

He adds that the simplicity of operation makes it ideal for any of the six-man greenkeeping team to get on the tractor and carry out any task required.

"We like the ROPS platform too, it's much easier to get on and off to refill the top dresser or remove and replace a flag when you are spraying."

Mark comments that the ST has proved to be highly reliable and will be retained for other work. "We have our own fitter, but George Browns carry out annual servicing; their salesman David Fisher has provided excellent back up and was able to source the LX very promptly when the committee agreed the purchase."

Ongoing drainage work is being undertaken to help the course deal with the increasingly unpredictable weather, while it has also benefited from a new irrigation system. Developments are also catering for a new generation of golfer, Mark explains.

"We have a three-hole academy course that has been built on former wasteland, the junior section is being developed by one of the pro team, and we've rebuilt the driving range, so there's plenty of opportunity for new golfers to develop their confidence and skills ready to go out on course. It's an exciting time for the club, and it's great to be well equipped to meet the demand."