John Deere dealer Godfreys of Sevenoaks in Kent has signed a new, exclusive three year preferred supplier agreement with The Royal St George's Golf Club at Sandwich, which will host its 14th Open Championship in 2011.
The agreement covers the supply and servicing of a full range of more than 30 John Deere golf and turf machines, including greens, tees & surrounds and fairway mowers plus compact tractors and Gator utility vehicles, for use by course manager Neil Metcalf and his team of 12 greenkeeping staff. This follows the previous three year agreements signed in 2003 and 2006, and underlines the club's ongoing commitment to provide the highest possible standards of maintenance on this famous links course.
The latest package, bought on a John Deere Credit finance lease, includes six 180C walk-behind greens mowers with trailers, two 2500B triplex greens mowers with greens tender conditioners, two 8500 PrecisionCut fairway mowers equipped with lightweight cutting heads, fairway tender conditioners and rear roller brushes, two TX Turf Gator utility vehicles, a Pro Gator with dedicated HD200 sprayer, a 45hp 3720 compact tractor with front loader and a 53hp 4520 compact tractor with ComfortGard cab. The quality and reliability of the machines, as well as the excellent support service provided by Godfreys, were major factors in the club's decision to further extend the agreement.
Neil Metcalf has worked at Royal St George's for 18 years, and the 2011 Open will be his third at the course - he was deputy head greenkeeper at the 1993 Championship, won by Greg Norman, and head greenkeeper in 2003, when Ben Curtis triumphed.
"Preparation for the Open Championship has effectively already started," says Neil. "We are now regularly hand mowing all the greens during the week rather than just for tournaments, as part of the club's general policy to achieve consistently high standards across the course.
"After taking advice from our STRI agronomist, we are also cutting the fairways a bit shorter now, down to 9mm with the option to box off, hence the choice of the new John Deere lightweight fairway mowers. This will produce a firmer, drier surface by reducing the amount of organic matter that goes back into the ground, to prevent the build-up of thatch which softens the fairways.
"The last Open course in 2003 ended up just what we hoped it would be, a hard, fast running links and a true test of golfing ability, so we are looking forward to more of the same in 2011."