John Deere dealers from across Europe have been brushing up on their greenkeeping skills and knowledge at Morley Hayes Golf Club in Derbyshire this summer.
The company's Golf Ready training programme for 2014 has involved over 200 participants from six countries - France, Germany, Italy and Spain, in addition to the UK and Ireland.
The dealership staff, along with key John Deere turfcare personnel from the US and Europe, have been spending most of May and June taking over responsibility for the daily maintenance of the nine-hole The Tower course at the Midlands non-member complex.
Morley Hayes is also home to the East Midlands Golf Academy, and features the championship length 18-hole The Manor Course and a 17-bay all-weather floodlit driving range.
Weekly groups of dealer salesmen, golf & turf specialists and service technicians have been effectively simulating what a greenkeeping team would be doing on the course each day, alongside detailed product training on John Deere's new greens, fairway and rough mowers and new pedestrian aerators for 2014, which have their public launch in July.
Each day starts at 7am, and involves a mix of practical indoor and outdoor training on the course maintenance equipment, including machine set-up, optimisation and operating procedures, safety requirements and product sales challenges.
In addition, an agronomy management presentation and a review of cultural practices plus a course walk are conducted with each group by experienced consultant (and BIGGA's first Master Greenkeeper) Laurence Pithie of Turf Master One Ltd.
Finally, after each mowing assignment has been completed, the dealers have to wash down the machines in the yard before reviewing the day's activities.
"The Golf Ready programme gives us all the opportunity to look at the fundamentals of product operation and servicing, as well as introduce the new season's products and do hands-on training in a real-life situation," says John Deere Limited's turf division manager Chris Meacock.
"It also means our dealers can really understand and appreciate the full range and importance of the greenkeeper's roles and responsibilities, and the critical role they play in the successful management of any golf club.
We're very grateful to the management and greenkeeping staff at Morley Hayes for providing us with the facilities and support to deliver this type of training.
"John Deere continues to be fully committed to our established nationwide dealership network, in order to to sell and support the full professional golf & turf product range to customers and deliver a first-class service - this year's Golf Ready programme has proved to be a very effective and valuable way to reinforce the dealer's existing expertise and knowledge."