“It’s fair to say that if it wasn’t for the dealer back-up and the relationship I’ve built up over the years with James Moore of Farol and John Deere, I wouldn’t still be using their machinery, it’s that simple.”
So says course manager Alec MacIndoe of West Surrey Golf Club near Godalming, who earlier this year completed his second John Deere course maintenance equipment package deal with Farol at the club, and his fifth overall at three different courses over the past 20 years or so.
The latest fleet of 22 machines – mostly bought on a John Deere Financial operating lease with some on hire purchase – includes four of the company’s brand new 2750 E-Cut hybrid electric triplex mowers, as well as fairway, tees & surrounds and walk-behind greens mowers, a ProGator utility vehicle equipped with an HD200 sprayer, TX Turf Gators and a zero-turn rotary mower.
“We recently completed an £800,000 refurbishment of the clubhouse, renewed or redesigned all of the course’s 64 bunkers, and we’re a long way down the line with upgrading the irrigation system, so the club has proved it’s progressive and committed to investing in the facilities,” says Alec. “I did a lot of work with James Moore to identify and settle on the best options for this latest replacement package, while trying as far as possible to maintain the same financial commitment as before, so as not to overstretch the budget.
“My main question to Farol and John Deere was, as we’re already at a high level, how can we get even better and extend the quality of the playing surfaces even further? I was lucky enough to be shown the answer at the John Deere Classic in the US last year, where I saw the new 2750E for the first time, alongside the company’s GPS PrecisionSprayer and autonomous mower.
“Having this opportunity to see where John Deere was making positive changes to its equipment, particularly with the 2750E mowers, was a real eye-opener. These new mowers have changed our cutting regime massively and I’ve been enormously impressed with the improvement in quality, we’re now getting a much better finish.
“The original idea was to hand mow the greens for most of the summer, but we found that the 2750E gives us the same pace on our USGA spec greens as the walk-behinds. We’d never cut the greens for the club championship with a triplex before, and the positive feedback we got was amazing. We will still hand mow through the winter though, and just use the triples at the weekends.
“We had 7700 fairway mowers in the first package, equipped with QA7 cutting units, but this time round we went for the 7500AE with QA5s, also for the better quality of cut they offer – we’re always looking for improvements in whatever we do. We’re now cutting the fairways at 12mm, and the difference in sward quality is huge.
“Using John Deere’s TechControl system on the mowers, you can set them up to maintain a consistent clip frequency at whatever forward speed you’re running. We run two of the 2750Es with 11-blade cylinders on the greens and two with seven-blade cylinders on the tees, approaches and surrounds, and keep a spare set of the 11-blade units.
“We also have a set of GreenTek vibratory rollers for the 2750E, in addition to our Tru-Turf greens roller, to help keep the putting surfaces smooth with no compaction, particularly after aeration and coring. These rollers will be used three times a week in the winter, when we only cut once a week.
“All four of the 2750Es are equipped with three-wheel drive and are completely interchangeable, all around the course. Now I’ve seen and used this new mower, for me there’s no comparison with the previous 2500 model – that was a great mower in its time, but the new machines are quicker, more flexible and more versatile.
“As for fuel economy, we haven’t physically measured it but I know we can get three times around the course before needing to fill up, so we have noticed considerable fuel savings.”