Jamie Cushnaham and Chris Allen operate The Wiltshire's 2635B tees & surrounds mowers.
Haydn Barrell at the controls of the 8700 PrecisionCut fairway mower.
A John Deere Aercore 800 pedestrian aerator, an 8700 PrecisionCut fairway mower and two 2635B tees & surrounds mowers are playing a significant role in the plans to restore The Wiltshire Golf Club's 18-hole Lakes course to one of the best in the county.
Providing course manager Chris Allen, assistant course manager Jamie Cushnaham and their three other greens staff with the necessary machinery to enable them to improve and maintain the course was top of the agenda when Wiltshire Leisure & Hospitality Ltd took ownership of The Wiltshire earlier this year, says Haydn Barrell, a co-director of the company.
“The Lakes and 9-hole Garden courses have suffered over the past three or four years, as a lack of investment had meant that the staff didn't have the equipment or time to maintain them properly,” he says. Chris Allen, who has been at The Wiltshire since 1991, adds: “Much of the equipment was tired and worn out, some was beyond repair and we were having to cannibalise machines to keep others going. Not a day went by when a man wasn’t in the workshop instead of being out on the course.”
After testing machines from two leading manufacturers, The Wiltshire elected to go with John Deere. “The company has a name for reliability, service and doing a good job,” he says. “We thought all their machines were superior in their simplicity of use, and we were extremely impressed with the mowers' quality of cut and ease of setting up. There was also the back-up from dealer BS Mowers Ltd at Bitton – if things do go wrong, they’re on our doorstep and parts are delivered the next day.”
With the need to hollow core the greens a priority, the Aercore 800 aerator was chosen for its light weight to minimise compaction. This was followed by the 8700 fairway mower with quick-attach QA7 cylinders, and the 2635B tees & surrounds mowers fitted with QA5 cylinders.
“The ease of use of the backlapping facility and the single-point height of cut adjustment are brilliant, absolutely superb,” says Chris. “Both save a considerable amount of time – with a small team, anything that speeds up the course maintenance operation is beneficial. In addition, the 8700’s grass tender conditioners allow us to cut in the wet without the cylinders bunging up, so we can get out early without having to wait until the course dries out,” he adds.
The quality performance provided by the new John Deere equipment is therefore a significant element in the club’s development strategy to get The Wiltshire back into A1 condition. “As we are concentrating on improving the course with short, medium and long-term goals in place, some things will take time, but there has already been a massive improvement,” says Haydn Barrell.
“It's neat and tidy in appearance and all the work on the course is now done more quickly and efficiently. The members can see that things are improving and are proud of their course once again. I believe it hasn't been as busy as it was this summer for years, we had a lot of golf breaks and many visitors have rebooked for next year.”