Brancepeth Castle Golf Club near Durham has recently invested £168,000 in a new fleet of John Deere machinery, in order to maintain high standards of presentation across the parkland course.
The equipment was supplied by Northumberland dealer Greenlay (Grass Machinery) of Cramlington on a John Deere Financial five year lease agreement, complete with a tailored PowerGard Maintenance and Protection programme for the key new machines.
These include two 2500E electric hybrid and 2500B triplex greens mowers, a 7700 PrecisionCut fairway mower, a Pro Gator utility vehicle equipped with an HD200 amenity turf sprayer, and a 4720 compact tractor. The greens mowers have joined two older 2500 and 2500A models, so Brancepeth Castle now runs four generations of this particular machine. The deal also included an extra set of interchangeable QA (quick-adjust) tees cutting units, which has allowed these older mowers to be used on the tees and approaches.
"Even though the financial climate has not been ideal, the machinery fleet had to be upgraded if we wanted to deliver the best course we can for the members, so we just had to bite the bullet," says Brancepeth Castle's management committee chairman Jim Murray.
"For example, the last fairway machine we bought is now 13 years old. It's been a hell of a machine up till now, but anything that old is going to be expensive to maintain and keep running efficiently. We therefore took a conscious management decision to replace the older equipment and give our greenkeeping team the machines they need to maintain the course in the best possible condition."
Head greenkeeper Andrew Welsh has dealt with Greenlay ever since that first John Deere fairway mower was acquired, and is very happy with the service he's received over this time.
"Considering the terrain we have to deal with - the course is bisected by a deep ravine, and was constructed on old ridge and furrow farmland, so there are a lot of undulations and rough grass areas - we've never really had any problems with the kit, and the dealer service has always been very good, with parts delivered within 24 hours when required," he says.
"We don't expect miracles, but it's all about reliability and service, and John Deere and Greenlay give us that," adds Jim Murray. "The finance package is also much better for the business than having to find £15,000 to £20,000 each time we need a new machine. The cost is built into the club's annual budget, including the regular servicing, so it's all very simple and straightforward, and all the key machines get upgraded at the same time, which is another advantage."
Photo caption:Brancepeth Castle Golf Club's management committee chairman Jim Murray and head greenkeeper Andrew Welsh (standing, left & right) with (seated, left to right) greens staff Michael Curry and Stephen Hagar, apprentice Matthew Craddock, mechanic Paul Simpson and deputy head greenkeeper Mark Brown, and the new John Deere machinery fleet.