Next week’s 133rd Open Championship at Royal Troon will be the fourth time in 23 years that course manager Billy McLachlan has been involved with the most prestigious event in the golfing calendar.
Coincidentally, this is also the fourth consecutive Open at which John Deere mowers have been used to prepare the Championship course, following Royal St George’s last year, Muirfield in 2002 and Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2001.
Eight John Deere 220B 22in greens mowers and two 2653A tees & surrounds mowers, supplied by local John Deere dealer Nairn Brown Ltd of Busby, Glasgow, have been working at Royal Troon since last autumn. The walk-behinds are being used to cut all the greens for this year’s Open Championship, and the ride-ons, in their third season on the course, are cutting the surrounds and any slopes where the ball runs off the greens.
Billy McLachlan has been at Royal Troon for 23 years, 10 of them as course manager, and currently manages a staff of 14 including a full-time mechanic. All the greens staff were involved with the decision to choose John Deere mowers for the Open course’s preparation and maintenance.
“We decided to bring the walk-behind machines in early to try them out through the winter and let the team get used to them,” says Billy. “Everyone to a man likes the mowers and gets on well with them. They‘re easy to use and give an excellent cut; it’s as simple as that.
“We‘ve been using the triple mowers since 2002, so we‘ve had good experience of John Deere and the dealer support available from Nairn Brown. We also get tournament support all year round, not just for the Open.
“This was a big part of the decision to go with Deere, as their parts backup and service is most impressive – if I phone with a problem, someone from the dealer is round straight away to deal with it. I would have to say they‘re the best machinery company I‘ve ever dealt with, as far as the whole sales and support package is concerned.
“For the Open itself, when we‘ll be double cutting the greens, we‘ll have extra 180B and 220B walk-behinds, as well as Gator utility vehicles available,” adds Billy. “Some of our greens are really quite small, with sharp slopes in places, compared with other Open venues. We‘ve therefore got the option to use the smaller 18 inch walk-behinds if necessary, to avoid digging in.
“Since my first Open in 1982, it’s become an even bigger, global event – everything’s a lot more intense now, and expectations are that much greater, especially under the media spotlight. As greenkeepers we have to adopt an even more professional approach, so when it comes to the machinery we use, we need a reliable, first class service, and that’s just what Nairn Brown and John Deere deliver.”
John Deere Limited www.johndeere.co.uk
Royal Troon www.royaltroon.com
Open Championship www.opengolf.com