One of Northern Ireland's best-known and most spectacular golf courses is finding considerably more uses for its Massey Ferguson 1547 compact tractor than was originally envisaged.
Situated on Ulster's famous Causeway Coast, Portstewart Golf Club comprises three 18-hole links courses managed since 1986 by Bernard Findlay, assisted by 15 full-time greenkeepers. There are also six part-time staff who come in from 7am to 11am every day to repair divots, carrying out other course work as required.
"I purchased the MF 1547 with DynaQPS transmission as an addition to our fleet specifically to operate a shrouded boom sprayer on greens, tees and fairways," explained Bernard. "The transmission allows push button gear changes to be made on the move under load, making it ideal for spraying operations that need to be carried out at a range of speeds according to the terrain and product being applied."
Supplied by Cyril Johnston & Co Ltd, Carryduff, Belfast, the new MF 1547 tractor was used initially by Bernard for herbicide treatments across all three courses. However, the tractor's ability to work effectively on fine turf without marking has brought additional important applications, particularly on Portstewart's greens.
"We don't think twice about using it on fine turf to operate a 1.6m wide deep tine aerator and various slit and solid tine shallow aerators," pointed out Bernard. "It also goes to work regularly on overseeding operations, renovating and repairing turf wear wherever needed."
When not powering an item of turf maintenance machinery, the 46hp tractor can be found towing a trailer, helping move a variety of materials around the three courses.
"To be honest, I never thought we'd get so many additional uses out of a tractor that was bought with a single purpose in mind," said Bernard. "It certainly has paid its way, proving invaluable to the club in many more ways than one."