St Andrew's upgrades tractor fleet
A trio of 84hp McCormick CX85 XtraShift tractors are providing more power and muscle for winter construction and summer maintenance tasks on the world famous golf courses at St Andrews Links in Fife.
According to Links Superintendent, Gordon Moir, the tractors are making a big difference to the demanding maintenance schedule needed to keep the links courses in tip-top condition.
"Amateur and professional players alike come to play these demanding courses and expect to see them in good shape," he points out. "But the sandy soil and coastal weather make it a tough job across the six courses in the Trust's care."
Moving up from traditional compact tractors to the bigger agricultural models has had a big impact on productivity. Because the tractors can tow larger trailers, the McCormicks take fewer journeys hauling sand from the beach to refill bunkers or carrying turf from the nursery grounds to re-construct eroded bunker walls.
They are also more capable when it comes to working the 6 tonne capacity top dressers used on the course, either to apply the rejuvenating material to landing areas and fairways or to feed the low ground pressure spreaders used on the greens.
"The tractors have made a big difference," confirms Gordon McKie, head greenkeeper on the Eden course. "They not only shift more material with each journey, they are also quicker, cutting the time taken on the three mile trip to the beach by 25%."
One of the three tractors is equipped with a McCormick LiftMaster 2000 hydraulic loader, which turns the power unit into a versatile handling machine. With a lift capacity of more than 2 tonnes in its large bucket and a tipping height of more than 3.8m, the loader will easily match the performance of many an industrial machine.
While Gordon Moir is delighted with the improved performance and productivity, individual members of the big grounds maintenance crew at St Andrews Links are also happy with the tractors.
They get a more spacious cab with wide doors making it easier to get on and off, easily handled synchromesh gears with three push button powershift speeds in each gear for quick changes, and a comfortable working environment quiet enough to listen to the radio and tape player.
"Having tried out several contenders, the McCormicks came out top for specification, availability and price," says Mr Moir. "The tractors have performed well so far and the fact that they're British built is a bonus."
Supplied by McCormick dealer Sellars Agriculture, the tractors are mostly kept busy on maintenance haulage work. But one of them has been kitted out with larger flotation tyres that will allow it to mow nursery turf and operate a bigger aerator.
That will make a further contribution to the productivity of the St Andrews team charged with keeping the famous links courses up to standard.
Photo: Links Superintendent Gordon Moir (right) and Gordon McKie, one of five head greenkeepers, are pleased with the increase in performance and productivity they get from the new McCormick tractors.