In a first for John Deere dealer Golf & Turf of Wokingham in Berkshire, The Royal Blackheath Golf Club in Eltham, south east London, has renewed a five year contract hire finance agreement for a full range of new John Deere course maintenance equipment.
Instituted in 1608 by the court of King James I, Royal Blackheath is one of the oldest golf clubs in the world, with a 17th century clubhouse and records showing that members originally played on Blackheath itself, adjacent to Greenwich Park. For its 400th anniversary last year, the club reconstructed a special five-hole course on the heath - with the grass cut by a John Deere mower - that was played by over 120 club members, together with professional guests including Neil Coles and Bernard Gallacher.
Golf course manager Allen Blizzard leads a team of six greenkeepers plus a mechanic, and made his choice of equipment based on changes to the previous grass cutting regime.
"Although the course has been steadily improving for a number of years, I wanted it to go to the next level in terms of quality, which meant hand-cutting the greens for the first time," he says. "I also wanted to make a lot of the mowing jobs less time consuming, which meant a different mix of machines to what we'd had before - it wasn't as simple as replacing like for like."
The new John Deere fleet includes three 220C walk-behind greens mowers, three 2500B triplex greens mowers, a 2653B tees and surrounds mower, two 7700 PrecisionCut fairway mowers, an 8800 TerrainCut rotary semi-roughs mower, a 1600T wide area mower, a 62hp 4720 compact tractor with ComfortGard cab and three TS Gator two-wheel drive utility vehicles.
"The first package deal worked very well for us, and the dealer back-up and service has been excellent, so the club was happy to go down this route again," says Allen. "The club has seen the progress that has been made out on the course over the last five years, so it made the decision making process for this new deal that much easier. We also had a very successful anniversary year in 2008, with everyone saying that the course was better than it's ever been, so I'm sure this made a difference when it came time to upgrade the fleet."
Salesman David Searles of John Deere dealer Golf & Turf and The Royal Blackheath golf course manager Allen Blizzard (seated front, left and right), with the rest of the greenkeeping staff: Jay Innes, deputy head greenkeeper Jamie Williams, Kevin Finch, Alex Keene, Wayne Dudley and Leigh Ashenden.