When looking for a total vehicle solution to meet the needs of their 7,500 acre estate, the management of The Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle turned to world’s premier manufacturer of light utility vehicles, E-Z-GO, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company.
Gary Gruber, the course manager at the club’s 18-hole golf course, was responsible for the procurement of the vehicles, having had considerable experience with utility vehicles in the past. As part of the evaluation process, he visited E-Z-GO’s manufacturing plant in Augusta , where it became clear they had a range of electric vehicles that could accommodate the estate’s needs.
“I visited E-Z-GO as part of the itinerary on one of Jacobsen’s Round Table events and after seeing their product line up and discussing future product developments they were bringing to market, I quickly realised they were a probable supplier,” he said.
On his return to Scotland he organised a series of product demonstrations and after detailed evaluation, the management team selected E-Z-GO as their preferred business partner.
“I wanted to ensure that we researched all options to obtain the best business solution for the Skibo Estate,” he continued. “The series of demonstrations confirmed to all of us that the E-Z-GO product offering wasn’t going to be beaten.”
With the 7,500 acre estate occupying land with SSSI status and some in designated conservation areas, sustainability and environmental impact was a prime consideration. That was the principal driver for selecting electric vehicles. In a total fleet of 45 vehicles, all but one – the ball collector on the golf driving range – are electric. For ease of maintenance the majority have semi-automatic battery fill systems and all have onboard chargers.
“We’re really looking at our carbon footprint and at several options for reducing it. We are taking a serious interest in wind energy and at the use of bio-mass power generation. We are also considering a wind vane to create and store energy in our vehicle barn, which can then be transferred to the batteries in the fleet. This should have a significant cost benefit to the business, going forward.”
As one of the world’s most exclusive private members’ clubs there are numerous activities to be enjoyed across the estate for members and their guests. The 18-hole golf links is maintained by Gruber and his team of 11 greenkeeping staff. The course is open for nine months of the year and closes for winter renovation from early January to the end of March.
In addition to golf there is a wide variety of outdoor pursuits on offer including salmon and trout fishing, horse-riding, clay shooting, archery, cycling, tennis and quad biking. There is also an ozone-treated indoor swimming pool, luxurious spa and gymnasium and, for younger guests, a Children’s Barn staffed by professional child-minders and stocked with toys and games. Accommodation at the club is in the castle’s 21 bedrooms, with an additional 12 lodges, dotted around the estate.
As all guest motor vehicles must be parked up on arrival, there are 22 E-Z-GO RXV four-seat shuttle vehicles available for guest use while at the club. All are fitted with the latest DGS TAG monitoring system, which allows the vehicles to be programmed to avoid restricted areas and which also monitors their position using GPS technology.
Five RXV golf cars are used on the golf course with three MPT multi-purpose vehicles complete with van bodies are used by the housekeeping team. The greenkeeping team have eight ST400 utility vehicles for maintenance work around the golf course and an E-Z-GO Refresher provides sustenance for the golfers out on the course. A six-seat shuttle is used to move guests and luggage to their lodges and a specially commissioned clays car, complete with gun rack and van body is available for the game keeping team.
“There are a considerable amount of bespoke features across this fleet of vehicles and both Chris Buckle of E-Z-GO and the local distributor, Fairways GM, have excelled in meeting our requirements,” Gary Gruber added. “We are particularly delighted with the clays car; it has exceeded our expectations and enhances the experience we offer to our members.
“We have signed a preferred supplier agreement with Ransomes Jacobsen, for golf course equipment and E-Z-GO vehicles, and this is due in no small measure to the service excellence we have received since 2001 when we took our first package of equipment and that been evident again throughout the latest procurement process. This is a business partnership in every sense and as such we will be testing and evaluating prototype vehicles from time to time.”
Fairways GM www.fairwaysgm.com
Carnegie Club www.carnegieclub.co.uk