The Duke Golf Club, situated in Nistelrode, 40 km north of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, has purchased a fleet of Jacobsen golf course maintenance equipment from Ransomes Jacobsen's distributor, Pols Group.
The club, formerly known as De Hooge Vorssel, is owned by Karel van Eerd, founder of the Jumbo Supermarket empire. It is unique in that it is only open to corporate members. Each company can nominate a maximum of four members, who have unrestricted access to the course, which has recently been extended to 18 holes. Each business is entitled to a dedicated 'company' day, where invited guests can play and the four nominated members each receive a number of 'Business Relations Cards' allowing their relatives and guests to play the course.
Golf Course Superintendent John van Hoesen arrived at the club three years ago. He has been in the industry for 35 years and began his career at a course using Jacobsen equipment. He currently has a team of eight greenkeeping staff, but next year this will be supplemented by an additional six seasonal greenkeepers throughout the summer.
"Our commitment to providing a golf course that complements the business ethos here at The Duke can be seen by the recently completed upgrading of the course to a full 18 holes," he said. "We were able to acquire some additional land, which included an area that was once a Roman camp and in the Middle Ages was used by the Dukes of Brabant as a hunting ground. That's why the club has been renamed The Duke to highlight the heritage of the area.
"We created 9 new holes using agrostis (bent) grass on the green, approaches and tees, although there is some fescue in the tee mix. The fairways are all ryegrass. On the old 9 we created completely new tees and greens and made changes to some of the fairways including modern shaping to ensure that the whole course has the same look and ambience. The official opening of the new look course took place on 12th September and we looking forward to our 25th anniversary in 2016. We now have a facility ready for the next 25 years.
"Obviously we need to maintain the course to the highest of standards so we went out to tender to upgrade the turf maintenance fleet. We looked at the range of equipment that was available from the main manufacturers and went through a process of demonstrations to ensure that we selected the right equipment for our course.
"The Jacobsen package from van der Pols and their dealer van der Wiel was our preferred option. Both companies are very professional in their approach to business and they fully understand what we are achieving here at The Duke.
"In my opinion the Jacobsen cutting unit is the best and when you add their groomers to the package, the cutting quality is superb. We hand mow all our greens using Jacobsen GK522 walking mowers with the groomer attachments. In keeping with club practices we must have all course maintenance completed by 11.00 am, so I have four of my team out on the greens early to ensure that we meet this target.
"We use Jacobsen GK526s, again with groomers, on the tees, a Jacobsen GP400 ride-on triple for the approaches, two Jacobsen LF550s with grass boxes on the fairways and an AR522 for the semi-rough. Also included in the new fleet are four Cushman Hauler Pro electric utility vehicles and a Smithco bunker rake. These new Cushman vehicles are now 72 volt and they are excellent. They have a fantastic battery life and give us great range. We probably charge them every second day and have adapted one as a ball collector on our driving range."
General Manager Marcel Arts has been at the club since it opened nearly 25 years ago in 1991. He began his career working in the kitchen and has risen through the business to his current role. He explained the club's philosophy saying,
"The simplest way of putting this is to say that we are a business club with a golf course. We want to offer the perfect facility for business to thrive and much of that is done on the golf course. Before we refurbished the course and added the extra nine holes, we had 68 businesses as members. We have a limit of 100 and expected that it would take three years to reach our target. One year on and we have a membership of 98 companies, which I think proves we have the concept right.
"Everything we do is geared to providing a quality experience for everyone who comes here. All of the staff are aware of these high expectations including our greenkeeping team. We are all front of house staff and we all have the same responsibilities, so you really do need to be a team player to work here.
"We have further development opportunities for the business including a plan to build a high-end hotel on site, which will consist of 28 suites of 75 square metres and 120 square metres plus a conference facility that will seat 250 delegates. This will be connected to the clubhouse via a subterranean tunnel and will be an excellent addition to our facilities. Our ultimate goal, in two years' time, is to be known as the best business club in Benelux."
More information on the product offering can be found at www.ransomesjacobsen.com.