Productivity is the key for the greenkeeping staff at Royal Cromer Golf Club inNorfolk, and a new fleet of John Deere equipment worth £330,000, supplied by dealer Ben Burgess ofNorwich, is now helping to raise quality levels across the course.
Head greenkeeper Mark Heveran arrived in September 2010 from Royal Liverpool Golf Club at Hoylake, where he was deputy course manager, having previously spent five years atLoch Lomond. With his experience of European Tour events and Open Championships at both Hoylake and Royal Birkdale, Mark’s goal, and that of his team, is to help push what is already widely regarded as one of Norfolk’s finest courses into theUK’s top 100.
Founded in 1888, the Club attained its royal status through the patronage of the Prince of Wales, and was originally designed by Tom Morris. It is a natural clifftop links course with spectacular views and a wealth of sandy hills, grassy valleys and abundant gorse and bracken. A range of ongoing improvements include rebuilding all the bunkers and a lot of fairway work to give the whole course a ‘facelift’.
One of Mark’s first tasks when he arrived was to review the machinery fleet, which concluded with signing a five year preferred supplier lease agreement with John Deere Financial. Ben Burgess supplied 12 new John Deere machines, including three 2500B greens mowers, a 2653B tees & surrounds mower, 1905 fairway mower, 1600T wide area rotary roughs mower, 3720 and 4720 compact tractors, TH 6×4 diesel and TE electric Gator utility vehicles, a Pro Gator with HD200 sprayer plus ancillary equipment.
“Previously the club had replaced the machinery on a rolling five year plan,” says Mark. “There was nothing wrong with the way this was done before, but the replacements were costing more annually than buying a range of new equipment on a lease deal. The Committee decided it would be better to invest in the machines we needed to do the job more efficiently, while at the same time getting more for the club’s money, and to fix the annual costs, which is of greater overall benefit to the club.
“For example, we didn’t have our own sprayer or top dresser before, but with this new deal we’ve now got both of these plus better tractors, a bigger fairway mower and an extra triple mower, all for less than the previous annual replacement costs. As a result we’ve been able to increase productivity – we can now block cut the fairways in just four hours, whereas it used to take at least two days to stripe them before, so we can do far more hands-on work to raise the quality of the course overall.
“The best new machine for us has been the Pro Gator utility vehicle,” Mark adds. “From top dressing just once or twice a year, we can now use the Pro Gator with the sprayer and top dresser attachments for different jobs every four weeks across the whole course. And it’s not just the machines, the team operating them are fantastic too – all of them work extremely hard to support the ambition of taking the course to the next level.”