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Fairways GM brings Jacobsen GP400 to Pitlochry GC

Fairways GM brings Jacobsen GP400 to Pitlochry GC: A busy course manager to two golf courses in the central Highlands has raised over £9,000 in his spare time for Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance Service.

Almost a year ago, a helicopter rescued Stuart Griffiths after an on-course accident left him trapped for nearly two hours under a machine. Emergency surgery and thirteen nights in hospital followed, with Stuart happily making a full recovery and back to work in October.

Fairways GM brings Jacobsen GP400 to Pitlochry GC

Fairways GM brings Jacobsen GP400 to Pitlochry GC

Stuart’s day job is split across two glorious Perthshire courses, eight miles apart. Pitlochry GC has 18 dramatic and scenic holes plus a tricky six-hole Pitch & Putt course while near neighbour, Blair Atholl GC has nine holes, also with stunning backdrops of the Cairngorms’ National Park.  Both courses are owned by Pitlochry contractors, RW Bell Electrical, which in the last five years has successfully harnessed positive community momentum and a resurgence of visitors from near and far, to win some prestigious tourism accolades.

“I joined Blair Atholl in 2010 as head greenkeeper. In 2015, when Stephen Carruthers, owner of Pitlochry, decided to merge the two, he asked me to manage them together, which frankly, took a lot of heat off me, as I was caring for a nine-hole course with a large expenditure,” explained Stuart.

“So, I became course manager of both; the first couple of seasons took a little bit of sorting, in respect of taking staff and machinery between two places, but soon we were in a better routine than before. We are very lucky.  Blair Atholl had a decent set of machinery prior to Pitlochry taking over, so actually, there is very little machinery swapping, only say, when we are spraying or top dressing.

“Staff wise, we work it out, essentially, everyone’s at both. We’re a team of five – full timers Billy Hoggins, Douglas Black, Sean Menzies, and Rob Coughlan, plus our long standing volunteer mechanic, and cutter of rough, Frank Brennan. Traditionally, there’s a big weekly Wednesday competition for visitors at Pitlochry, so on Wednesdays after set up, we all come to Blair Atholl.

To boost their fleet, in April, Stuart purchased a Jacobsen GP400 ride on greens mower, exclusively for Pitlochry’s greens. Mike Lindsay, Area Sales Manager, from local dealer, Fairways GM at Kinross, was on hand to provide sales support and demonstration know how.

“It’s May, there’s snow on the hills and we’ve been out cutting with it twice,” laughed Stuart. “That sorts of says it all for the season so far, but we’re extremely positive and excited for warmer temperatures. Feedback from the team on the GP400 is very good. The overall cutting experience is great. Technology-wise, it is a big step up from what we’ve had; it’s got great design, is precise and clean and we’ll be able to cut the greens so much quicker.”

Fairways GM’s, Mike Lindsay, said: “It’s such an all-rounder when you’re against time and got greens to prepare. The swing-out centre cutting unit allows easy access for changing height of cut and routine inspection.  For access, there’s a neat step behind the front wheel and for visibility, the angle of the curved steering arm gives the best view of the right-hand cutting unit. Also a steering arm clamp, lets your arm take up a really comfy position.  It’s a machine that makes life easier.”

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Jacobsen double from Fairways GM

Jacobsen double from Fairways GM: Track Manager, Darren Bissett, says Hamilton Park’s turf will be more than ready for the start of their flat racing season scheduled to begin in May. 

“Course maintenance wise we are on schedule with the first cut of both the track and the lawns due within the next week, assuming conditions prevail,” said Darren.

Jacobsen double from Fairways GM

Jacobsen double from Fairways GM

Darren joined the team at Hamilton Park from Ayr Racecourse exactly 12 months ago, and his first year in the job could hardly have been more unexpected.

In June 2020, a delayed and shortened fixture list got underway with eleven race meetings successfully staged behind closed doors by the time the season concluded at the end of September.

One huge positive for 2020 was that local grounds care dealer, Fairways GM, delivered two new Jacobsen mowers – the HR500 Rotary Mower for the track and the TR320 for Hamilton Park’s extensive fine turf areas.

“The machines were ordered by my predecessor after several very positive recommendations. They’ve worked fantastically and I’m genuinely very impressed at how effective they are. The HR500 has great width at 3.5 metres which allows us to cut the whole track with just five circuits in around 2.5 hours. It makes quick work and leaves a very clean cut.  The room that you get in the cab is exceptional; really spacious, so it’s great for the operator. Also, once you are finished, it’s incredibly easy to maintain.

“In March, we will probably only cut the track once a week until it gets a bit warmer and soil temperatures rise, however come May we’ll have increased that to at least twice a week.  Over the summer months cutting increases to three or four times a week as the fertilisation programme takes effect.

During the racing season we like to cut the day before a fixture, and then again 48 hours afterwards. Height of the cut is set at 6cm for the next month or so and when racing starts, we’ll allow it to grow a bit longer before cutting it to around 9cm. Changing the height of cut on the decks takes around half an hour and it’s a case of moving just ten pins, so it’s very straightforward.”

“Away from the track, our lawns are a great backdrop for weddings and events as well as racedays, and hopefully this summer they will see a lot more visitors. Because it’s been a bit milder these past few weeks the lawns are starting to grow. The TR320 delivers an exceptionally fine, effective cut and it is so good at striping the lawns and leaving a professional finish – everything is really level. We cut the track and the lawns on the same day so there will be times when we are cutting lawns four times a week throughout the summer.

Last year, sadly, we were unable to welcome racegoers and event guests alike and so we’re working hard to ensure the grounds will be at their spectacular best for when we can open our gates to the public once more.

Rob Hogarth, Fairways GM’s Area Sales Manager, said: The HR500 can cut all day long.  Robust and smooth, it has built in consistency delivered via a feature called Automated Assist Drive, so no matter the conditions the finish remains clean and sharp. The big cab that Darren likes gives the operator a superior view of what’s going on out-front; controls are positioned exactly where they are required, so you can also be extremely precise. The TR320 is good in tight spaces and challenging terrain.  It’s a wizard at stripes so is great at keeping locations pristine and interesting, a nice touch for important wedding photography.”

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Jenkins GM And ISEKI Join Forces

Jenkins GM And ISEKI Join Forces: Jenkins Garden Machinery, located near Llanelli have become the latest Garden Machinery dealer to recognize the tremendous opportunity that the ISEKI franchise presents for themselves and their customers and have joined the growing number of ISEKI dealers in the UK.

Dealer Principal Howell Jenkins commented “Our business has changed dramatically in the last few years with customers seeking more commercial machinery, this partnership with ISEKI will help us serve those customers better.”

Jenkins GM And ISEKI Join Forces

Emyr Jenkins Managing Director added “ISEKI have a long-standing reputation for quality of product and service in the UK which is exactly what we strive to deliver to our customers on a daily basis, additionally the amazing performance of the cut and collect machines is really a big deal for us in South Wales where the grass grows so strongly”

David Withers, Managing Director of ISEKI UK was pleased to add Jenkins Garden Machinery to the ISEKI family and commented “We enjoy working with companies that have the same focus we have on customer service and long-term relationships, as such we are excited to add Emz (as Emyr is usually know) and the team to the ISEKI family”

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

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