A brand new partnership between Farleigh Golf Club, John Deere and dealer Farol Ltd has seen the arrival of the club's first ever fleet of John Deere course maintenance equipment. This forms part of an ongoing investment in the club and its facilities worth £6.5 million since Farleigh was acquired by the Hayton family in 2010, to become part of The Foxhills Collection.
"The partnership is a true representation of our commitment to improving quality and maintaining our golf offering at all times," says Adam Walsh, who has been general manager for two years following a spell as golf sales manager.
Opened in 1997 near Croydon, Farleigh is a fast-draining downland-style course which boasts 27 Championship-standard holes redesigned by Ryder Cup legend John Jacobs, with greens built to USGA specifications. Three separate nine-hole loops can be played in any combination as three different 18-hole layouts or even all 27, each layout providing an enjoyable challenge for golfers of all abilities.
The course hosted the 2018 PGA Assistants' Championship as well as its southern section final qualifier, and is the only national PGA venue in the area. The club has also recently signed up for the next two years to host the national PGA Fourball Championship.
Adam Walsh explains the reasoning behind the club's decision to partner with John Deere and Farol for the first time: "Our previous fleet was coming up to eight years old, so we decided to go through a formal tender process to upgrade and replace the machinery as necessary. At the same time, we were looking to establish a new partnership approach with a supplier as an exclusive agreement, rather than simply replace the odd machine here and there over time.
"The local dealer Farol started demonstrations with us in 2017, arranged by golf & turf area manager Dave Searles, and we soon found that there was a real willingness to create a proper partnership with the club and meet our long-term business needs. One of the main influencing factors in the choice of John Deere was the effort that was put into delivering the full package we were looking for, compared to the other companies we dealt with."
Course manager Kenny MacPhail, who has been at the club for approaching five years, had used some John Deere equipment before but as he says: "What's good for one course may not be so suitable for another, so I wanted the greenkeeping team to experience the John Deere kit as widely as possible before we made the final decision.
"Generally we've been impressed with the range, especially the easy height of cut adjustment on the rotary 8800A TerrainCut rough mower and 7400A trim & surrounds mower, which both feature the programmable TechControl display. We have a lot of drainage ditches, and the 7400A's shiftable deck system saves a lot of manpower, as it can mow down into them more easily.
"The overall operator experience is good too - everything is laid out simply and is very user-friendly. It's obvious a lot of engineering thought has gone into the manufacturing process, particularly to make servicing and maintenance very straightforward."
Other machines in the 14-strong fleet include both 2500B hydraulic and 2500E hybrid electric greens mowers, 8900A wide area fairway mowers, a 1600T wide area rotary mower, Pro Gators with top dresser and sprayer attachments, TH 6x4 Gator utility vehicles and a 5075E 75hp utility tractor.
"We have just had a record financial year and the club is definitely going in the right direction," says Adam Walsh. "The course continues to improve, and stylistically it's different to the majority of courses in the area - it's very open and exposed and sets different challenges, more like an inland links.
"We aim to provide a relaxed atmosphere, while underpinning every step we take with the emphasis on quality and attention to detail in order to give our members and visitors the best possible value. We're very enthusiastic about the future at Farleigh, and this new partnership with John Deere and Farol is a definite step forward in helping us to achieve our goals."
For more information visit: www.JohnDeere.co.uk