Set in the heart of Lincolnshire, Sleaford Golf Club is an 18-hole private members course redesigned by Peter Alliss, with an additional 6-hole Academy par 3 course. Described as an inland links with sandy, well-draining soil, it is renowned for once having the longest first nine holes in the country, with no par 3s.
Much of the course is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) that includes some of the most important calcareous grassland areas in the county, if not the UK. Nick Lawson, chairman of the club’s management committee and also greens chairman, has developed a passion for wildlife and environmental management and says: “We are delighted to be working with Natural England and to play our part in maintaining the biodiversity of our environment, while ensuring that a natural evolution of the course is maintained.”
Part of this evolution has seen the introduction of the club’s first John Deere course maintenance equipment fleet supplied by local dealer F G Adamson & Son at Langworth, and supported by a five-year John Deere Financial lease deal. The new machines include a 2750E hybrid electric triplex mower, 7700A PrecisionCut fairway mower, 9009A TerrainCut rotary rough mower, a ProGator 2030A utility vehicle equipped with an HD200 amenity turf sprayer, and a TH 6×4 Gator utility vehicle.
The combination of new hybrid electric and programmable TechControl mower technology and advanced sprayer controls now enables the course to be managed in a more environmentally friendly manner, while also saving costs.
Nick Lawson has been a member at Sleaford Golf Club for over 30 years, and was persuaded to join the management committee in order to bring his financial and accountancy experience to bear. Together with director of golf Nigel Pearce, who has been at Sleaford for 20 years and was the club professional, and new course manager Brian Sharp – all three have been in post for less than three years – they embarked on an investment programme to improve the overall maintenance regime and bring everything back up to a higher standard after several years of decline.
“We had inherited an old five-year lease contract, so the new management committee set a good budget pre-Covid to replace and upgrade the machinery fleet,” says Nick Lawson. “This was put on hold during lockdown, but we consider the golf course to be the club’s prime asset. As soon as we were able to, we asked Brian for his wish list and then arranged a number of machinery demonstrations by the different manufacturers to see what worked best for us.
“We then went to tender, with John Deere and Adamsons giving the best presentation and their all-round choice of machinery just a little ahead of the others, so we signed the deal at the beginning of April. With the finance, we need flexibility to take advantage of the latest technology and different machinery wear rates, so in time we may have to adjust our budgets accordingly.
“We’ve never been down this route before, so we’re still learning the best way forward for the club and the course, but Brian and his team now have all the tools they need to do the job to the best possible standards.”
“One of the key reasons we chose the A Model mowers is being able to set up the mowing speed and frequency of cut for a consistent finish across the course, whoever’s on the machine,” says Brian Sharp. “We also needed a sprayer that was accurate and could speed up the job, particularly on the fairways.
“With our old tractor-mounted sprayer there was no calibration and we had no real idea of application rates. The HD200 is much more accurate, there’s no over-application and we know we’re hitting the target with whatever we spray, which really helps to lower our environmental footprint. We can now do all 18 holes in one go instead of having to refill halfway round, so we also save on man hours and keep ahead of the golfers.”
Nick Lawson adds: “By offering more flexible membership and guest options, our numbers are picking up again now. There’s been a net gain since the beginning of lockdown, and we’re confident things are now moving forward for the club.”