Maintaining high standards at Sandburn Hall

Steve Mitchellin Machinery & Mechanics

Sandburn Hall Golf Club, a 6700yd par 72 parkland course with a heathland element situated in Flaxton in the beautiful Vale of York, opened just 12 years ago but already hosts major amateur and professional county events.

Getting the fairways and greens to that high standard, and maintaining it, has been the responsibility of the club's golf course manager Brian Hall and his son Andrew, who is deputy manager. They have been at the course since its inception, and their main choice of machinery from the start has been John Deere, supplied by dealer F G Adamson & Son.

The original fleet package delivered when the course was being prepared for play comprised a 2653A surrounds and rough mower, a 3235B fairway mower, a 3245B rough mower and a 2500B greens mower. There was also a 4115 compact tractor, a 1200A bunker rake and an Aercore 1500 tractor-mounted aerator.

"We look after the equipment and have our own mechanic, Chris Clark, and a grinding machine for cylinders and bottom blades, so we can keep the machines going for a long time," says Brian Hall. "However, when fairway and rough mowers get to around 10 years old they need replacing to keep up with the latest technology. The machines had proved to be reliable and we have a good working relationship with F G Adamson & Son, who provide excellent after-sales support."

To keep the course maintenance fleet up to date a rolling replacement policy was instigated with dealer area sales manager Andy O'Neill in 2012, in which all the machines are bought outright. "This enables us to minimise our annual outlay, as we know how much to budget for the next machine," adds Brian.

Replacement machines have included an 8700 fairway mower, a 2653B utility mower, an 8800 rough mower and a 2500E hybrid electric greens mower to complement the 2500B, which is still going strong in its role as a back-up mower and for verticutting the greens.

The latest new John Deere machines to arrive at Sandburn Hall are a 2027R compact tractor complete with a 60in mid-mounted rotary mower deck, and a Pro Gator utility vehicle equipped with an HD200 low-profile amenity turf sprayer and TD100 fertiliser spreader. A 4710 compact tractor has also replaced the 4115.

The 2027R compact tractor is fitted with a three-point linkage so, in addition to cutting the secondary rough and around the trees on the course, it is also used to aerate the greens. The 4710 is fitted with Galaxy tyres and powers a rotary topper for the rough and a trailed fertiliser spreader. It also tows a set of gang mowers on the driving range. The new Pro Gator is commended for its low centre of gravity and even weight distribution when carrying the sprayer and top dressing with the spreader.

Both Brian and Andrew Hall like the John Deere equipment's build quality and operator comfort, and highlight features that they say help make the greenkeepers' job easier all the time and improve the quality of cut - all helping the Sandburn Hall team to create a golf course that is already recognised as one of the best in the area.

"The fairway tender conditioners' recycling action means there is no mess when cutting wet grass," says Brian. "The Quick Adjust single point height of cut and blade to cylinder adjustment system is fantastic, and the backlapping facility is also very handy."

On the benefits of the 2500E hybrid electric greens mower, Andrew adds: "As well as being quieter and minimising the chance of any hydraulic oil spillage, the offset cutting units are a major feature, as there's no tracking when cutting the perimeter of the greens. Operating costs are also lower, as the 2500E has the same clip rate as a conventional mower but at two-thirds the revs. In addition, the weight transfer system means that it maintains the same height of cut whether the grass box is full or empty."

In summary, Sandburn Hall director James Hogg says: "We have enjoyed trading with F G Adamson & Son since we bought our first John Deere tractor in 2001, well before the golf course was even completed. They have always looked after us with fast, reliable parts delivery and excellent new machines, and we look forward to doing business with them and John Deere for many years to come."