When Derek Thomson, course manager at The Wynyard Golf Club on the outskirts of Stockton-on-Tees, wanted to improve the condition of the rough on the 7,000 yard, par 72 Wellington course, he turned to the Jacobsen HR-9016 wide area mower supplied by local Ransomes Jacobsen dealer, Rickerby Ltd of Hexham. Ransomes Jacobsen is a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company.
The previous maintenance regime used a tractor with trailed rotary decks and took two of his greenkeeping team four days to cut the course and the driving range; now it takes just 11 hours.
"It was back in the summer of 2007 that we realised we needed to change how we maintained the longer grass on the course," he said. "The following September we had demonstrations from several manufacturers, who brought along their wide area mowers and we evaluated each of them. The 9016 proved to be the best and we took delivery in June 2008.
"The previous method using the combined tractor and trailed unit was slow and not very manoeuvrable. With the 9016 were have a very nimble machine that has reduced the eight man-days to less than two man-days, although we still require two of the team as we have a small out-front machine to tidy up along the fence line of the surrounding houses that line some of the fairways.
"We normally cut to a height of 50mm and this produces a well groomed finish, because presentation is very important here. The floating front deck helps reduce scalping and we can keep on top of the heavy summer growth, so it never gets out of hand.
"Last year we had an issue with unsightly weeds in the tiger rough, so the decision was taken to cut this to 50mm last autumn and apply a selective weed killer. We raised the height of cut to 125mm and sent in the 9016. I must admit I had my doubts when I saw the decks disappear into the long grass, but it had the power to get through and with a second pass we got down to our 50mm target height. It was quite amazing!
Derek joined The Wynyard Golf Club as deputy course manager in 2004 and was promoted to course manager in 2007. His previous experience includes working in the Channel Islands at Royal Jersey and La Moye golf clubs. At The Wynyard he heads a team of 10 including a mechanic.
"We had a change of management a few years back and they have injected a new passion into the business," he added. "They are forward thinking, customer-focussed and have very high standards. They want the course to be visually presentable and in pristine condition at all times. This strategy has definitely worked and we've seen a 30% membership increase throughout 2009."
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The Jacobsen HR-9016 has significantly increased Derek Thomson, course manager at The Productivity at The Wynyard Wynyard Golf Club