An investment in a fleet of four new John Deere hybrid electric fairway mowers has paid off handsomely at Royal County Down Golf Club in Northern Ireland.
Eamonn Crawford has been links manager at ‘RCD’ for 10 years, but has worked here for 45, maintaining not just his beloved links to the highest standards, but also a consistent approach to the purchase of new course equipment.
“Every golf course is different, but I like to have a mixture of machinery and if it’s good enough I’ll use it,” he says. “My approach is very much horses for courses, and I aim to buy the right make for the jobs that need doing, to get them done properly.”
“I’ve dealt with the dealership for nearly 20 years,” says Crawford. “Service and back-up are very important to us, and Johnston Gilpin have always proved their worth on that score, particularly with loan equipment. Generally, we need demo machines for more than just one or two days, preferably three or four weeks so we can test them properly in all conditions, and that’s what happened last year with the 7500AE mower.”
He adds: “We get a lot of rain here and cutting in the wet is just the worst job. Fairway mowers in particular can leave a lot of mess, but the collection on these new machines is very good, the grass gets thrown right to the back of the boxes. We box off all the cuttings on the Annesley Links, which we’ve never done before, and people have been commenting how good the fairways are playing there now.”
Six of Royal County Down’s 17 full-time greenkeeping staff are dedicated 7500AE operators. All four mowers are set to cut the fairways at 9mm on both 18-hole courses every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, plus all the pathways. Nets have been added to the mowers’ roll-bars for protection, as there are a lot of blind tee shots around the courses.
“One of our greenkeepers, Mark Kennedy, is very mechanically minded and has done a lot of product training with Johnston Gilpin learning about the machines and how to set them up, so he looks after them all,” says Crawford. “All the operators know their machines well too and are very good at their job. They’ve got to be comfortable using the mowers, given how much time they spend in the seat all day, and they always report back, good or bad! The 7500AEs hold their cut very well, especially down to the bottom of the contours and hollows. Golfers like a tight lie, and the new mowers give us the consistent quality of cut that our members and visitors appreciate.
“The E-Cut hybrid electric system also saves fuel and produces very low emissions, so it all adds up so far. We’re very pleased with these new John Deere fairway mowers, and I’m very confident that they will be with us for a long time, particularly with Mark looking after them so well.”