Longhirst Hall Golf Club, situated near Morpeth in Northumberland, has recently upgraded its fleet, with a significant delivery of new equipment from local Ransomes Jacobsen dealer, Rickerby of Hexham.
The new Jacobsen equipment includes four Eclipse 322 hybrid triplex mowers, two AR522 contour rotary mowers, two Fairway 305 heavy duty fairway mowers and an Iseki TH4335 tractor with cab.
Stephen Smith is the Head Greenkeeper at the club and has a team of seven to maintain the two 18-hole courses. Commenting on the new fleet he said, "We need a reliable fleet from a reputable manufacturer together with first-class support from a local dealer. And that's exactly what we get with this fleet from Ransomes Jacobsen and our local dealer, Rickerbys.
"During the summer we become a 'grass factory' and the equipment must be reliable for us to keep up with amount of grass that needs to be maintained. The Fairway 305s are really robust mowers and we keep them fully employed. The AR522s replace our old AR250, which had over 10,000 hours on the clock. The improvements that have been made to this latest generation of contour mower are first-class.
"However, the jewels in the crown are the Eclipse hybrid mowers. We have two with the 11-blade cutting cylinders for tees and surrounds and two with Jacobsen's 15-blade reels for the greens. The quality of cut with the combination of 15-blade reels and the ability to set the FOC (frequency of cut), has resulted in our greens reaching a consistently outstanding level. This technology has ensured that our greens are the best in the area."
Graham Chambers is the Director of Golf at the club and he is responsible for all of the golf course and clubhouse operations. With a greenkeeping background that goes back as far as 1997, he says, "Our philosophy since we opened back in 1997 has been to provide a golf facility for local people, that is affordable but without the perceived 'stuffiness' of more traditional golf clubs.
"This business model has stood us in good stead, especially during the recent tough times, and we now have 900 members and 40,000 rounds of golf being played here at Longhirst. The owner, Tom Dawson, truly believes in the 'Pay and Play' concept and will continue to provide investment for the club at the appropriate times. Our latest project is the installation of a new driving range on our practice area, complete with 16 covered bays, which should be open towards the end of September this year.
"We are also the venue for a PGA EuroPro Tour event, which we have hosted four times and will return again in June 2015. I think that a testimony to quality of our facilities and I would rate our putting surfaces against any other club in the area. Without a doubt, that's down to our Eclipse mowers.
Longhirst Hall also operates a fleet of E-Z-GO electric golf cars and a number of electric utility vehicles, which is part of the overall environmental policy inherent at the club.