New thinking at The Sands
Farnham Golf Club is a gem. The Sands is an aptly-named location for the club’s 18-hole course which occupies a stunning tract of sandy Surrey heathland, flecked with yellow gorse in early summer and resplendent with vibrant heathers later in the year.
Founded in 1896 by a group of gentlemen who were passionate about their golf, Farnham Golf Club survived two world wars when much of its land was given over to food production, emerging on each occasion as an even better course than it was before. Unlike many modern courses, where the topography has been largely created by man, the course at Farnham exploits the slopes, dips and undulations of the natural landscape. Clever thought and planning has resulted in a series of holes that are testing for experienced players, while still being thoroughly enjoyable for golfers at all levels.
Today Farnham has earned a reputation for greens presented to an exceptional standard thanks to the efforts of course manager Rupert Lawrence and his team. Until recently the club operated a rolling programme of machinery replacement which essentially meant that everything was replaced every 10 years, but this had disadvantages as Rupert explains:
“Whenever we purchased new machines we would devolve the older ones onto lesser duties. That was alright in principle but what it actually meant was that there was always part of the fleet that was costing more to run as it aged. The older machines didn’t offer the same capabilities as the newer ones either, making it harder to maintain consistent standards.”
Rupert came to the conclusion that there had to be a better solution, and at about that time he began talking to T H WHITE Groundcare specialist David Gray.
“David suggested that we consider a leasing plan instead of outright purchase. It made perfect sense – not only would we always have new machines with all the latest developments, but we would also have a fixed annual cost with no surprises, making the most of our budget while continually improving the presentation of the course,” Rupert added.
With the basic decision made, the Farnham team decided on two Jacobsen Eclipse 322 greens mowers, a Jacobsen AR522 contour mower, a Smithco Spraystar 2000 and a Smithco Tournament roller.
The Eclipse 322 mowers have already enhanced the quality of cut on the greens thanks to the variable frequency of cut. This ensures that no matter what the speed of mowing or the way the operator works, the whole green on every hole is cut in exactly the same way, day in, day out. Coupled with the market leading 15-blade cutting units and the True Set cutting adjustment, the units not only cut well but stay ‘on cut’.
Another major benefit is the complete lack of hydraulic oil leaks; there is no hydraulic oil present so there are no costly bursts to clear up. Fuel and service savings make a significant difference to running costs too as fewer filters are used, there’s no hydraulic oil to top up or replace, no associated filters, no hose pipe replacement and no environmental charges. The two-cylinder diesel engine also uses just 0.7 litres per hour, which is quite remarkable.
On the undulating ground the powerful Jacobsen AR522 has 22in pod cutting decks that glide over the contours of the golf course effortlessly providing a striped finished. The tool-less height of cut adjustment was one a key factor in deciding to purchasing this machine.
Complementing the mowers, the Smithco Spraystar 2000 is a dedicated sprayer which provides an unmatched consistent spray finish due to its GPS Raven. Better control is provided using the hydrostatic transmission and cruise control, while the low profile of the machine and low weight makes it ideal for spraying greens as well as fairways.
For the final finish the Smithco Tournament Roller increases green speed by truing-up the greens surface. The 10in rollers spread the pressure per square inch, so even though the Smithco is built to a robust standard the sub surface ground compaction is minimal yet surface trueness is greatly improved.
Farnham’s previous equipment supplier operated a national distribution, but T H WHITE has always given great importance to service at a local level. “That really clinched the deal for us,” said Rupert Lawrence. “Down-time can have a serious impact on the usability of the course and having local support from the T H WHITE dealership has been fantastic. We are extra-lucky because our T H WHITE sales representative, David Gray, actually lives in Farnham so we get a very speedy and effective service every time!”