A combination of machinery finance, hybrid mowers and a full five-year service agreement has provided a Lancashire golf club with a hassle-free, environmentally friendly solution to the problem of an ageing fleet and increased downtime.
Privately owned Shaw Hill Hotel, Golf & Country Club at Whittle-Le-Woods, near Chorley in Lancashire, has recently taken delivery of a new fleet of John Deere equipment, supplied by dealer Balmers Garden Machinery of Burnley on a John Deere Credit five-year finance lease programme, complete with a full-term maintenance contract.
The new machines cover the course's requirements from tees to greens, and include a 2653B tees & surrounds mower, 7500E hybrid fairway mower, 1600T WAM rotary roughs mower, 220C walk-behind greens mower and 2500E triplex hybrid greens mower, plus additional aeration and greens equipment supplied by the dealer as part of the overall package.
Shaw Hill's clubhouse is based in a spectacular Georgian mansion that overlooks the 192-acre course's beautiful parkland valley setting. It shares facilities with a 30 room hotel with restaurant and meeting rooms, plus a leisure club. Ex-Walker Cup player and European Tour Pro Nick Dougherty was a junior member here, and a bag of his clubs is showcased in the hotel reception area.
Course manager Neil Hamlett and hotel golf coordinator Phil Powell, who is a member of the Golf Club Managers' Association and was previously secretary/manager at Northenden Golf Club in Manchester before coming to Shaw Hill a year ago, set up the John Deere fleet deal with Balmers with the support of the club's owners the Stokes family, represented by managing director Kathleen Tyrer.
"This investment in new golf course machinery underlines Mrs Tyrer's commitment to the club and its future well-being," says Phil Powell. "Most of our previous machines were eight to 10 years old and well beyond their useful working life, so needed replacing. We had a clear idea of what we wanted for every part of the course, from the tees to the greens, and knew that we wanted to go with John Deere. The lease arrangement and maintenance contract is a real help with our budgeting going forward, as we know exactly what we'll be spending each year."
In the past the greens staff did their own maintenance, and often spent at least one day a week in the workshop fixing machines, so downtime could be a real problem, says Neil Hamlett. "Shaw Hill is a very busy course, with a lot of society and corporate golf plus people on mini-breaks staying in the hotel, as well as the members, so we need good, reliable equipment to keep the course in the best possible condition. The maintenance contract includes a mid-season service, an annual winter service and full breakdown cover, so now we have full confidence that downtime can be kept to an absolute minimum."
All the ride-on cylinder mowers are equipped with John Deere's new Quick Adjust technology, with QA5 cutting units on the E-Cut hybrid mowers and QA7s on the tees & surrounds mower. "They are so easy to set up, once the initial settings are right," says deputy course manager Shaun Hutchinson. "They just need a quick touch to change the height of cut, with one click equal to a thousandth of an inch, so they really save us a lot of time."
Neil Hamlett also appreciates the advantages of using hybrid mowers. "Not only can you save up to a third on fuel costs, they're much quieter so we don't disturb our neighbours when we're out working early in the morning. In addition, you don't get any hydraulic leaks, so they're much kinder to the environment. The new spiker will also help us to improve playing conditions, as it will be the first time we've been able to aerate the greens all year round, without disruption."
Photograph:-(Front left to right) Shaw Hill Golf Club deputy course manager Shaun Hutchinson, Balmers Garden Machinery golf & turf workshop manager Andrew Stoney, hotel golf coordinator Phil Powell, dealer salesman Darren Barker of Balmers and course manager Neil Hamlett, with the rest of the greens staff and the new John Deere fleet.