The introduction of a new John Deere fleet following a comprehensive machinery review by Mid-Yorkshire Golf Club at Darrington has helped improve the course and increase the club's membership and income from green fees, with a waiting list for membership renewals for the first time in its history.
General manager Rob Pointon and head greenkeeper Chris Webb chose the package offered by John Deere dealer Bob Wild Grass Machinery of Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, after conducting a rigorous, two-month, full cost of ownership review with the main golf course equipment manufacturers.
But it was not just about the initial deal, as both men are keen to stress. "We were not simply looking at a five or even seven year limited time deal, we were looking much longer term at the whole relationship with the supplier and dealer," says Rob Pointon. "We want to build on this and work together to achieve our aims - we don't want to keep changing and having to go through the same time-consuming process each time we want to purchase new equipment."
The result was a full five year service agreement covering 14 John Deere machines plus ancillary equipment, all supplied by Bob Wild, including mowers for the tees, greens, fairways and roughs, compact tractors, Gator utility vehicles and an amenity turf sprayer.
"We chose our partner not just on price, but also on service back-up and parts delivery, training, tournament support - everything was taken into account," says Chris. "Bob Wild was the fastest to respond and put in the most machines on demonstration - not just for a day either, but for up to a week so we could do proper evaluations and get a really good feel for the machines.
"The greenkeeping staff wrote a report on each machine as they came in, comparing their strengths and weaknesses and telling us what they liked and didn't like. Bob Wild and his salesman Roger Lawson were brilliant right through the process, and even supplied kit on loan when we had a breakdown in our own fleet.
"They also made sure we chose the right machines for the course - for example they suggested we use the 2500B greens mower on the tees and surrounds, rather than a utility mower, as it's more manoeuvrable and gives a better quality finish. It was that overall level of customer service that we were looking for - the whole package on offer from Bob Wild came out on top by a country mile.
"To improve the presentation, we simply had to get new kit in," says Chris. "I'm over the moon with the quality of cut now, it's lifted up the profile 100 per cent - it's as different as chalk and cheese compared to before. The service agreement we have with Bob Wild also means we know there will be no big bills coming in out of the blue, and we can rely on the kit being maintained at a high level. Fuel consumption has vastly improved, too."
Rob Pointon adds: "With this new deal, we've more than halved our service bill. We know exactly what it costs each month, so we can budget more efficiently. And for me, one of the biggest benefits is that the morale of the greenkeepers has been lifted tremendously.
"In the current competitive business climate, golf clubs have to present their course at its best, to keep existing members happy and attract new ones. Our members have certainly noticed the difference - they even complain to each other now about repairing pitch marks!"
John Deere Limited
Tel: +44 (0)1949 860491