Luton Hoo Hotel Golf & Spa is a luxury five star resort, located within an historic Grade 1 listed property painstaking restored by the owners, Elite Hotels. Facilities include an 18-hole golf course, a magnificent spa and over 1000 acres of parkland and gardens created by Capability Brown.
The 7,107 yard, par 73 golf course is one of the longest courses in the UK and is maintained with a selection of Ransomes Jacobsen equipment supplied by local dealer, Ernest Doe and Sons Ltd of Benington.
Head greenkeeper Avon Bridges joined Elite Hotels in 2006 overseeing the grow-in phase and the course opening in the spring of 2008. He was previously deputy head greenkeeper at Finchley Golf Club, having joined the north London club as a trainee in 1997. He manages a relatively small team of five greenkeeping staff, but there are no bunkers on the course due to the Grade 1 listed status of the estate, making maintenance slightly less demanding.
However, to compensate for the lack of bunkers, there is more rough than normal and it encroaches close to the greens, requiring precision placement of approach shots. To manage the rough, the greenkeeping team use a Jacobsen AR522 rotary mower, which has five rotary decks with the latest TrimTek technology.
"With our previous wide area mower we tried to cut at 4", but it just couldn't cope," Avon Bridges commented. "We needed a five deck machine and tried all the machines on the market, but the TrimTek decks on the AR522 proved to be far superior to anything else. The design of the deck keeps the clippings suspended longer, so they are mulched more effectively and that results in a really great finish."
The lack of bunkers means that it is crucial for the approaches and semi-rough to be presented in pristine condition and for these areas the team use a Jacobsen AR3. Although a rotary mower, the fully floating decks have a rear roller so they can add a striped definition to the finely shaped contours of these areas.
"The seating position on the AR3 is excellent as it allows good visibility of the front decks and the traction control is very good," he added. "For the tees and surrounds we wanted a cylinder mower that was capable of tight turns without marking, so we trialled a Jacobsen TR3 cylinder. It proved superb and we purchased two. The added bonus is that they use the same tractor unit as the AR3, so that helps us keep spares to a minimum.
"Finally, the after sales support has been very good and, in my opinion, that's the advantage of a UK manufacturer with an extensive local dealer network. The parts viewer on the Ransomes Jacobsen website is excellent, very easy to navigate, and the service from Doe's Benington branch has been first class."