Aberdeen, Scotland: Meldrum House Golf Club course manager Kenny Harper is a man on a mission – to make this top-100 course as environmentally friendly and efficient as possible, with benefits to both the golf course and the overall parkland estate.
Harper and his team of nine full-time and three or four part-time summer staff look after all the grounds and woodland on the estate, from the imposing entrance archway to the baronial manor house hotel.
The course hosted Scotland’s second oldest tournament, the Northern Open, for the fourth year running in 2013, and has come through two tough winters with effective plans to improve productivity while also cutting operating costs.
One aspect of this approach is the use of new John Deere 2500E hybrid electric mowers on all the greens, tees and approaches. The club is on its second five-year fleet maintenance contract with John Deere dealer Double A Trading, who have a new regional base in Aberdeen, with the replacement machinery bought on finance for the first time through John Deere Financial.
“We’ve certainly found over the last 15 years what works best for the golf course,” said Harper. “We run two John Deere fairway mowers, an older 3235C and a new 7700 PrecisionCut with conditioner heads, which gives a very clean and tidy finish with no clumping. In addition, I’m very interested now in getting oil off the golf course, so we decided to upgrade the greens mowers to John Deere’s E-Cut hybrid electric units.
“Other machines in the fleet are still using hydraulics, but in time we will need to look at the other electric mowers available – if they do the job we want, we will definitely look at them, as we think it’s an important consideration.
“It’s not just potential damage to the greens and fairways we are concerned about, but the environment generally. We try not to do or use anything that does any harm, so for example we catch all the water from the maintenance shed roofs and concrete standings, which is recycled and used for washing down the machines, and there are buffer zones round all the ponds on the golf course to prevent run-off. More recently we’ve started using wood pellets bought locally to heat both the hotel and the maintenance buildings.”
Use is also made of fallen trees on the estate, with the wood dried for about a year and used in one of two boilers in the maintenance shed, with the second taking the bought-in pellets. “Eventually we will be able to run all our hot water and heating in the sheds for no cost, which will be a major plus,” said Harper. Pellet boilers in the hotel also feed pipework to outdoor marquees, which are used for 130 to 140 weddings a year at this venue.
Other busy John Deere machines in the fleet include a 1600T Series II wide-area rotary mower plus XUV, TX Turf, CX and two Pro Gator utility vehicles. One of these is equipped with an HD200 turf sprayer, and is adaptable for use with top dresser, hydraulic brush and slitter attachments.
Harper said: “The new HD200 is a lot easier to attach and remove than its predecessor, which means we can get jobs done quicker and more efficiently.
“It’s fair to say the John Deere machines and dealer service from Double A help us get all the necessary work done without any bother, and that’s one of the company’s strengths I think. The new finance programme also works to everyone’s benefit.”