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Technology pays off for Gleneagles

Technology pays off for Gleneagles: As Gleneagles enters the fifth year of its partnership agreement with John Deere, its adoption of the latest precision spraying and mowing technology is paying off across the estate’s world-famous championship courses, The King’s, Queen’s and PGA Centenary, plus the 9-hole Wee Course.

The award-winning luxury destination in Perthshire holds a unique position in golf as the first European venue to have hosted both The Ryder Cup (in 2014) and Solheim Cup (in 2019). John Deere was the official golf course and turf maintenance equipment supplier to Gleneagles for the latter event, with tournament support provided by local supplying dealer Double A at Cupar.

Technology pays off for Gleneagles

Technology pays off for Gleneagles

The next professional tournament scheduled at Gleneagles takes place in July 2022, when The King’s Course will host The Senior Open Presented by Rolex for the first time. This will be Europe’s only Senior Major Championship next year.

Gleneagles Director of Agronomy and Estates Scott Fenwick says: “We’re anticipating a great tournament next summer, particularly as The King’s Course also hosted what was then the Bells Scottish Open from 1987 to 1994. Hopefully a lot of the big-name golfers from that era will be able to play the course again, and we look forward to welcoming them back to Gleneagles.”

Scott Fenwick recently took delivery of the latest additions to Gleneagles’ extensive John Deere course maintenance equipment fleet, including the ProGator-based GPS PrecisionSprayer, WAM 1600T and 9009A TerrainCut rotary rough and finishing mowers, plus nine TS & TX Series Gator utility vehicles.

“We were the first UK golf course to receive a prototype of the GPS PrecisionSprayer for assessment, from the start of the John Deere contract,” says Scott.  “We were able to do a lot of testing with it over three seasons, to help John Deere evaluate the machine in true commercial conditions.

“Accuracy is key for everything we do at Gleneagles. We were also one of the first golf venues in the UK to achieve GEO Certified status, and the environmental credentials of our business are very important to us. To be able to spray only target areas is obviously much better from an environmental point of view. We are now able to apply around 12 to 14 per cent less chemical at lower total volumes of water, which also means lower costs, so it’s a big win all round.

“Although autonomous technology is well established in agriculture, it’s new to our side of the industry. Once you get used to not having to steer the machine and allowing it to do everything automatically, it’s very operator friendly. Testing the sprayer over an extended period meant we could be sure that it did what it was supposed to do and have full confidence in the results.”

Precision is a feature of the A model mowers that Gleneagles uses, with the machines set up using the TechControl system so that they mow and turn at exact speeds. This helps give a consistent finish across all courses.

“This is particularly important on a big site like ours, with a 50-plus strong greenkeeping and gardens team and a lot of equipment,” Scott adds. “Every operator has a slightly different approach and feel, but with so many mowers being used by different people every day, we need to achieve consistency.

“Since joining Gleneagles three years ago our Golf Courses Manager, Craig Haldane, has been instrumental in bringing the golf and gardens staff together to operate as one team across all the courses and grounds. This has meant we can manage and direct operations and the equipment fleet much more efficiently, and it has also improved communications and the use of resources.

“Overall the new John Deere fleet is now in a really good place. It’s also been great for morale that even though the hotel had to close during lockdown, the business has continued to invest in the new machinery we need to maintain the courses to the highest standards.”

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Up For The Cup At Gleneagles

Up For The Cup At Gleneagles: Gleneagles will hold a unique position in golfing history when the biggest event in women’s golf concludes this weekend, by becoming the first venue in Europe to have hosted both The Solheim Cup and The Ryder Cup (in 2014).

As the Gleneagles and volunteer greenkeeping teams led by golf courses manager Craig Haldane, together with director of agronomy and estates Scott Fenwick, put the finishing touches to the Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary Course, John Deere and local dealer Double A are equally busy behind the scenes.

Up for The Cup at Gleneagles

The greenkeeping team at Gleneagles has risen to 100 people, with tournament standard conditioning also extending to The King’s Course, which is hosting The Junior Solheim Cup, and The Queen’s Course, which remains open for member and VIP visitor play during the week.

John Deere is the official golf course and turf maintenance machinery event partner to Gleneagles for this 16th biennial edition of The Solheim Cup. The company has a long association with professional golf, having been a title sponsor on the PGA Tour, official supplier to the PGA Tour for over 25 years, official supplier to the Ladies European Tour and a partner at numerous Solheim Cup events.

In addition, John Deere is partnering Gleneagles by exclusively providing golf course maintenance machinery and ancillary equipment for use across all three championship golf courses.

“We are very grateful for the support from our local dealer Double A as we’ve been gearing up the John Deere fleet ahead of the tournament,” says Craig Haldane. “Typically we aim to maintain all three courses at a very high level all year round, but we’ve upped the ante for The Solheim Cup.

“Closing the course three weeks prior to the event has allowed it to recover from any stress and provided additional time to prepare and introduce a higher frequency of cut. By fine tuning our existing practices we’ve been able go up another level in terms of a quality cut and finish for the tournament.

“We’re also very fortunate to benefit from the extra resources and experience provided by the volunteer greenkeepers supporting our team this week. Eight of the 52 volunteers are women, who have joined our own Laura Campbell and BIGGA’s head of membership services Tracey Maddison to help with the course preparations, so it’s fitting that we can showcase the equal role women play in our industry, especially during The Solheim Cup.”

Up for The Cup at Gleneagles

Carlos Aragones, John Deere European turf sales & marketing manager, adds: “The Solheim Cup is one of the biggest events on the 2019 sporting calendar and we are delighted to be a part of it. We are also proud of our collaboration with Gleneagles in helping to prepare the course for such a prestigious tournament.”

In 2019 John Deere and its dealers are supporting more than 10 major tournaments in the UK and Ireland, every month from the Betfred British Masters at Hillside Golf Club in May to The Solheim Cup at Gleneagles and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in September. This involves providing specialist support staff and more than 150 machines including walk-behind and ride-on greens mowers, tees & surrounds, fairway and rough mowers, compact tractors and Gator utility vehicles.

“Traditionally we work closely with the individual club’s course managers and greenkeeping teams to help keep all the machines in the fleet serviced and ready for work each day, and ensure all cutting units can achieve the highest possible quality of cut,” says John Deere Limited turf division manager Chris Meacock. “This partnership approach helps everyone to achieve the best possible results where they matter, out on the course, and keep things running as smoothly as possible throughout the event.”

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Gleneagles Choose E-Z-GO

Gleneagles Choose E-Z-GO: Since joining Gleneagles in March 2015, director of golf, Gary Silcock, has been on a four-year journey to provide a premium experience for golfers of all abilities from hotel guests to Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup competitors.

Keeping the ‘Gleneagles experience’ at the cutting edge requires extensive research and investment. It’s as much about listening to what golfers at a premium course want as it is supplying them with technology they haven’t experienced.

Gleneagles Choose E-Z-GO

Fulfilling a set of practical and impressive criteria was top of the agenda when replacing Gleneagles’ previous fleet of buggies. Lithium batteries and an accurate GPS system were the stand out functional features while the customer journey had to be considered at every stage.

This meant close attention to detail on the visual aspects of the new fleet. Any option under consideration needed to be customised with logos and branding to keep them in fitting with the rest of the equipment, but Gary’s first action was to pick a model and brand from a range of dealers.

For Gleneagles, lithium batteries are the forefront of golf car technology, with multiple environmental and practical benefits making them the key factor. Lighter buggies allow guests to go on the fairways more often, increasing both revenue and the golfers’ experience, while reducing stress on the turf and preventing wear and tear on the course. Gary assessed a number of lithium options, but it was the combination of features on the RXV ELiTE range that stood out.

The TFM GPS, combined with the Intellibrake system, provided everything required in terms of usability and accuracy but the combination of the two also increased the safety of those using the buggies.

Gary explained: “We looked at the TFM system E-Z-GO offers, and it did everything we wanted it to, and we’ve been very surprised at the ease and usability.

“The topography of the land at Gleneagles has a lot of interesting slopes, and the IntelliBrake system on the RXV EliTE prevents any skidding. We were focused on health and safety when making our decision, and the braking system was an interesting piece that was unique to E-Z-GO.”

Gleneagles Choose E-Z-GO

With a selection of features in place, the aesthetics were next on the list. Any new fleet of buggies would be located on the driveway and provide guests with a valuable first impression, so it was vital for them to have a head-turning look.

To show how that could be achieved, director of sales, Andre Andrade, produced a sample buggy with Gleneagles branding to show precisely how a high-specification RXV ELiTE would look and perform. For Gary, this was a crucial stage in the decision-making process because he wanted to work with – and continue working with – a company that provided the best customer journey for himself and the guests of Gleneagles.

The high level of engagement from E-Z-GO and Scottish dealer, Fairways, throughout the design and demo process impressed Gary and led to him confidently choosing a fleet of 45 bespoke RVX’s to enhance the ‘Gleneagles experience’.

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Century Up At Gleneagles

Century Up At Gleneagles: Gleneagles in Perthshire, Scotland has recently celebrated the 100th birthday of its iconic King’s and Queen’s Courses, with a little help from local John Deere dealer Sandy Armit of Double A.

Designed by James Braid and created using nothing more than manual labour and horse and cart, both courses were officially opened on 1 May 1919 and have an illustrious history.

Century Up At Gleneagles

The King’s Course hosted a famous match between the ‘Big Three’ of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player in 1966, as well as the popular Bell’s Scottish Open on the European Tour from 1987 to 1994, the largest spectator event after The Open at the time. The Queen’s Course has also hosted great names from entertainment and sport, including Sean Connery and Alan Shepard, the only man to hit a golf shot on the moon!

In more recent times, and under Gleneagles’ new ownership by Ennismore, both courses have benefited from extensive renovation projects. These have seen them realigned to Braid’s original design vision with wider fairways, bringing strategically placed bunkers back in play, and the reintroduction of Scottish heather in key areas.

As part of the special centenary celebrations, Gleneagles staff recreated several historic archive photographs from the 1920s, including an image of a tractor pulling a set of gang mowers on a fairway. This was replicated with a 1941 John Deere Model B tractor, equipped with a set of trailed cylinder gang mowers. The tractor is owned by Sandy Armit and is usually on display at the dealership’s headquarters in Cupar, Fife.

Gleneagles signed an exclusive contract with John Deere in 2017 for the supply of golf course maintenance equipment and related technology to the three championship golf courses at the award winning hotel and golf resort.

Century Up At Gleneagles

John Deere also celebrated its own centenary last year, as March 14, 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the day Deere & Company bought the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company of Waterloo in Iowa and officially entered the tractor business for which it would become famous worldwide; tractors are still made at Waterloo to this day. The Model B tractor that was loaned to Gleneagles is still John Deere’s all-time bestselling model, with 300,000 sold from 1935 to 1953.

For more information, visit: www.JohnDeere.co.uk

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