A range of new John Deere golf course equipment, including a 2500E greens mower featuring hybrid E-Cut technology, has been supplied to Aldeburgh Golf Club in Suffolk by local dealer Tomlinson Groundcare of Buxhall, near Stowmarket. This latest package deal brings the total Deere fleet at Aldeburgh to 25 machines.
Master Greenkeeper Mark Broughton has been course manager for nearly 13 years at Aldeburgh, a gorse-lined heathland course which is currently ranked 68th in Golf World’s UK Top 100. The dry, sandy soil and generally dry climate mean that one of the main challenges for Mark and his team of eight greenkeeping staff is, as he puts it, “…to keep things alive in the summer.
“We run a minimum input system here, based on encouraging the right grasses and the right husbandry programme to develop drought resistance, while still producing a good playing surface with fast and firm greens, which is what our members like,” says Mark. “We need a good irrigation system to give us a high level of control and enable us to run large soil moisture deficits, and that was the first big investment when I came here.
“There was a desperate need for investment in new machinery when I arrived, so over the years we’ve managed to build up a first-class fleet, and now replace machines on a rolling programme.”
The newest 2500E hybrid greens mower means that two are now used on the greens, one on the tees and one older 2500A model for other work. “It’s nice to have one of these mowers permanently dedicated to the ‘bits and pieces’ jobs,” Mark explains. “This saves having to change the heads all the time, so we keep the fourth mower free for verticutting, brushing etc on the greens and tees, using our Greentech cassette system. We also use the old mower for the first few cuts after top dressing.
“At Aldeburgh we don’t use groomers on any of the greens triple mowers. This is because the grass here is predominantly made up of slow growing fescues, and we don’t want to knock hell out of them. Minimising disturbance and heights of cut generally no lower than 5mm are important features of our greens maintenance programme. Members want and appreciate a natural looking heathland environment, so this is what we try our best to achieve throughout the year, whatever the growing conditions.”
A new Aercore 800 pedestrian aerator has also joined the fleet’s existing tractor-mounted model, adds Mark. “We use this on those tight areas around the greens and surrounds, walk-off areas and slopes where we need the manoeuvrability. The tight turning circle is a great feature on this machine, you can whack it around and it doesn’t chew up the turf.”
Two other new additions to the fleet are a 4520 compact tractor with cab, which does anything from scarifying and fairway Vertidraining to general trailer work, and a TX petrol Gator utility vehicle, which joins two electric TE Gators and two Pro Gators equipped with top dresser attachments. “The TX replaced another make, as we find it useful to have a petrol machine in addition to the electric models,” says Mark.
“Dealer service is probably the number one factor for me, and I think John Deere really made a difference when they brought their agricultural experience into the groundscare and golf industry – all of a sudden you could get the parts you wanted, when you wanted them. Tomlinson offer us good, competitive deals, and they keep us running – all machines at this level are pretty reliable, but if problems do occur the dealer gets them sorted out promptly. My team also have an important role in selecting machinery, as they use the kit every day – they understand our requirements and provide valuable feedback.”
John Deere Limited www.JohnDeere.com
Aldeburgh Golf Club www.aldeburghgolfclub.co.uk