Premium machinery for premium plans

Steve Mitchellin Machinery & Mechanics

New John Deere course maintenance equipment bought from dealer F G Adamson & Son using a John Deere Financial package has enabled Waltham Windmill Golf Club to address the issue of an ageing machinery fleet and implement a plan to make MF Strawson Ltd's 20 year old American-style parkland course a premium golfing venue in north-east Lincolnshire.

"Niel Strawson's aim is to take the course to the next level and the greens in particular needed improving," says the club's head greenkeeper Robert Welford, who moved in 2015 from Cleethorpes Golf Club, where he had gained a reputation for creating some of the best putting surfaces in the county.

"He was therefore prepared to make a serious investment in new machinery to help achieve this objective and improve the course in general. We considered buying individual machines on a five-year rolling replacement policy, but decided it was better to replace the entire fleet in one go. We looked at other manufacturers, but elected to stay with John Deere.

"The greenkeeping staff's familiarity with the machines was a key factor in the decision, and through Niel Strawson's longstanding close relationship with Adamsons, we know the high level of service and after-sales support the dealership provides. In addition, financially it was the best package - with this new deal we have interest free finance over two years, after which we will own the equipment outright."

There was also no need for a full service package, due to the machines being under warranty for the length of the agreement and the skill sets within Robert's group of four full-time greens staff, who have attended John Deere's tailor-made product training courses.

The deal, brokered by F G Adamson & Son's Tony Jenkins, saw Waltham Windmill take delivery of a John Deere 2500B PrecisionCut triplex greens mower, an 8000AE hybrid electric mower for tees and approaches, an 8700 PrecisionCut fairway mower, a 220SL walk-behind greens mower and a Z997R zero-turn rotary machine.

The package also included a TE electric Gator utility vehicle and a Pro Gator fitted with an HD200 low-profile amenity turf sprayer. These machines joined four more retained from the old fleet, including a compact utility tractor, another greens mower, a bunker rake and an F1145 out-front rotary mower fitted with a flail deck.

"We kept the old greens mower as a back-up and the F1145 is an old stalwart," says Robert. "The new TE Gator enables the staff to move materials around the course without disturbing the golfers. The Z997R is the first zero-turn we've had, and its manoeuvrability has allowed us to halve the time it takes to cut around the trees on the course, and get a better finish.

"We're also looking to refine the quality of cut, and the 8000AE and 8700 have definitely made a difference - they are wider than the old mowers, so they are more productive. The fairway tender conditioners and rear roller brushes on the 8700 give a good quality finish. They also increase productivity, as we can get on the fairways when there is dew on the ground without leaving clippings."

The Pro Gator plus HD200 sprayer replaced a tractor-mounted sprayer. "This is an integral part of pushing the course forward," adds Robert. "The new sprayer's auto-rate controller allows fingertip control and provides precise application rates. It has enabled us to become more environmentally friendly by moving to a totally liquid regime for fertilisers, fungicides, herbicides, pesticides and feeds."

As to the impact the new equipment has had on the course, Robert says: "All areas have improved measurably. Members have been commenting on the quality of cut on the fairways and greens, and since buying the new equipment we have hosted the Lincolnshire Union of Golf Clubs' Lincolnshire versus Yorkshire competition, the largest county event in the club's history. It's down to the skill of the team and their use of modern equipment, which will enable us to fulfil Niel Strawson's long-term plans for the club."