Ashbury and Gillingham Golf Clubs choose Ransomes Jacobsen
High Productivity required at Ashbury's 72-hole Golf Complex
Steve Harris, Golf Course Manager at Ashbury Golf Club near Okehampton is a man with a big job - a very big job! That's because Ashbury is a very big operation: 72 holes on 327 acres; 280 more acres under construction, including woodland areas, which will give 16-18 more holes by 2007, with an eventual target of 29 additional holes by 2009.
An additional 29 holes may sound like a bizarre number, but that many extra holes will provide flexibility. They will allow for another full 18 plus a 9-hole course, with spare capacity, so holes can be allocated to where they work best. This is especially important as Ashbury plays all year round, virtually irrespective of the weather.
Ashbury hosts a great diversity of societies, which also take advantage of the other facilities on site: hotel, bar, restaurant, snooker, ten pin indoor bowls, golf simulator, skittles, even indoor curling. There are an amazing number of golfers, around 135,000 a year and as many of them play 27 or 36 holes (but some only play 9), the best estimate is an impressive 162,000 rounds of golf a year!
The weather is to say the least unpredictable, as the annual rainfall figures indicate: 54" in 2004, 41" in 2003 and 82" in 2002! It also has something of a microclimate, with golfers coming in for lunch wet from one course and dry from another.
Steve's big challenge is to create an excellent first impression for every single visiting golfer. There are rapid changeovers of golfers and it is essential to present all four courses to an equal standard and quickly. Ashbury can't afford to have golfers declining one course in favour of another!
That's why Ashbury have just added a second Jacobsen HR-9016 mower to their extensive equipment fleet from local dealer PJ Flegg. The exceptional productivity of both 9016s is being used to maintain large areas of open rough and around trees. Whereas this had been a six hours a day job, seven days a week, for one man using a Ransomes 951, the two 9016s now complete the operation in just three days releasing a Ransomes Commander to work on the new pasture areas.
As Steve Harris says "Our operators now work in teams with responsibility for an individual course. Such is the popularity of the 9016s that one young lad, who is normally keen to leave sharp on five, now wants to stay on working, just so he can use them."
He is equally realistic about the relationship with the local dealer. "We work with Flegg's because they give excellent service and excellent back-up service. Even with four full time mechanics, we need that. Every organisation has its glitches, but it is important to look at the overall picture - and overall they are a consistently excellent Dealer."
£90,000 Package of new equipment for Gillingham Golf Club
Situated close to the town centre with views over the river Medway, the 18-hole course features narrow fairways, so Steve has selected Jacobsen Tri-King mowers as his preferred fairway mower option.
"Presentation is very important here at the Club and with 900 members to satisfy, I've opted for the Tri-Kings for a very simple reason; their quality of cut", he says. "They are normally used as tees and surrounds mowers, but for us they make excellent fairway machines due to their speed and light footprint; we can cut all fairways in 5 hours using two machines."
As part of the package Steve has also purchased a Cushman Turf Truckster complete with Gambetti sprayer, a Jacobsen HR4600 out front rotary for the semi-rough and an Iseki TXG 23hp compact tractor.
"We've just celebrated our centenary and part of the celebrations was 8 days of back-to-back competitions. It took a great deal of effort, but with a good team and quality equipment, we achieved an extremely well presented course all week", he added.