Billy McLachlan, course manager at Royal Troon Golf Club, and his 15-strong greenkeeping team will see the culmination of two years’ preparatory work on the course and greens this July, when the Ayrshire club hosts the 145th Open Championship – the eighth time the event has come to the Firth of Clyde. The work has included specification changes to all the Old Course greens.“We've adjusted the top dressing programme to firm them up as much as we can,” explains Billy McLachlan, who has been at Royal Troon for 35 years, the past 22 as course manager. His brother John doubles as co-deputy course manager and mechanic, working alongside co-deputy Gary Ross.Continuing its close relationship with John Deere and dealer Nairn Brown at Busby, Glasgow, the club has bought five new 220SL walk-behind greens mowers and a new 2653B ride-on triplex cylinder mower as the latest additions to its fleet of course maintenance equipment. The 220SL walk-behinds replaced a similar number of older 220C models, while the 2653B complements a 12-year old model that is still going strong. Royal Troon also runs John Deere compact tractors.“We've been using the 220 walk-behinds for the past 12 years, going back to the B Series models, and the latest SLs are part of our rolling machinery replacement policy,” says Billy McLachlan. “The staff think they are the best walk-behind, as does my brother John, who does all the setting up on the mowers.“The 220SL's 22 inch width suits us, even on the smaller 9th and 8th greens,” (the famous Postage Stamp, the shortest hole in championship golf, with no safe way to play it; don't hit the green and the ball is in trouble!) “They will be used to cut all the greens before and during the Championship.“The height of cut adjustment is quick and precise, and we've reduced the height of cut from 3.5 to 3.4mm; even that small amount makes a difference and enables us to treat the greens according to the conditions. In the past we have reduced cutting frequency and increased rolling; it all depends on what the weather sends.” The new 2653B represents the third generation of this popular ride-on cylinder mower used at Royal Troon. “They have improved the quality and stand on the surrounds,” says Billy McLachlan. “Our John Deere 8000E five-gang hybrid electric machines normally cut the surrounds and for the Open we are going to try and cut the fairways with them as well.“We've introduced a policy of cutting the 'outer surrounds' to the same height, which will be done with the 2653Bs, as they give a good finish and can handle the slopes. They will also be used on the practice tees and on the Portland and par three courses. Having two of these mowers also gives us a back-up; I always like to have a back-up.“We have stayed with John Deere as if the staff like a machine, then that's what we have. But it is not just the product, it is the whole package, which includes the extremely efficient support that Nairn Brown and sales manager Graham Stewart, and John Deere, provide.”Supplying Billy McLachlan and his greens staff with the machines to present Royal Troon's 6591m (7208 yards), par 71 Old Course at its best for the Open and maintain it for the duration of the Championship is not Nairn Brown and John Deere's only association with the event. They will also be providing additional tournament support in the form of Gator utility vehicles and additional 8000E hybrid electric ride-on mowers.“We'll have six 8000Es for the fairways and surrounds, with the intention that they will all be cutting to the same height,” says Billy McLachlan. “The only problem will be how we physically set out to do it!”
John Deere is once again supporting Open Farm Sunday as the machinery sponsor for this year’s event, which takes place on June 5th, 2016.Organised by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), Open Farm Sunday will see hundreds of farmers across the country opening their gates to the public to help them discover the world of farming, from how farmers grow crops for food, clothing, medicine and fuel through to the science and technology behind British agriculture.Since its launch in 2006, Open Farm Sunday has seen over 1.6 million people visit a farm and learn about the vital work farmers do. LEAF is estimating that 400 farms will open this year and between them, will welcome over a quarter of a million visitors. In the last three years, more than 80 per cent of visitors reported learning something new about farming, and one in five visitors had not visited a farm before.A series of Open Farm School Days will also run throughout June. They provide thousands of school children with the opportunity to visit a farm to learn more about where their food comes from and how it is produced. More information about Open Farm School Days can be found at www.farmsunday.org.Via the newly refreshed website, LEAF provides lots of features and resources to help host farmers put on a safe, engaging and enjoyable event and help inspire their visitors about all aspects of farming. John Deere contributes to this by producing 35,000 information leaflets for visitors to take home, with content for both adults and children, highlighting the latest John Deere technology and featuring some useful industry facts.In addition, many dealers and John Deere staff support individual events with the loan of machinery for tractor rides or static display, or by helping host farmers and talking to visitors about John Deere’s advanced technology and its role in helping farmers to produce quality food for home and abroad.Further details of the event are available on the Open Farm Sunday website or you can follow @OpenFarmSunday on Twitter (#OFS16) or on Facebook at LEAFopenfarmsunday, while several new promotional videos are also available to view on YouTube.Facts about farming: The links below are designed to provide you with a few interesting facts about farming, John Deere and the use of technology on today’s farms – and after June 5, you’ll find the answers to our ‘Spot the Difference’ competition, which will also be featured on the event’s special visitor leaflet.
R&A Scholar Peteris Sadovskis, originally from Latvia, has won this year’s John Deere sponsored SRUC Elmwood HNC Student of the Year Award.Now living in Leven, Fife with his wife Viktorija and two year old daughter Sophie, Peteris Sadovskis was judged the college’s best overall HNC Golf Course Management student for 2016. He was presented with his award certificate by Sandy Armit of local John Deere dealer The Double A Trading Company Ltd, on the SRUC Elmwood Golf Course at Cupar in north-east Fife.Peteris also won gift vouchers to the value of £300 for golf supplies from The Old Course shop at St Andrews Links, where he worked as a seasonal divot filler in 2006 after leaving Latvia for the first time. From these lowly beginnings, Peteris has worked extremely hard to improve both his language and greenkeeping skills. He started studying for a National Certificate in Greenkeeping at Elmwood in 2014 and won Best Practical Student on that course in 2015.“Throughout his studies Peteris has been keen, motivated and thrown himself into the industry with great passion and a desire to learn as much as he can, and put this into practice,” said course tutor Stuart Mackie. “He has proved to be a conscientious and approachable student with a very professional outlook, and has maintained a very high standard of work. I have no doubt Peteris will continue to progress within the industry.”Having returned from Latvia to live in Scotland with his family in 2011, Peteris once again found seasonal work at St Andrews Links and decided to pursue a career in greenkeeping, while also taking English lessons to improve his prospects. He is currently working as a seasonal greenkeeper at the New and Jubilee Courses at St Andrews, and has applied for the HND Golf Course Management course at SRUC Elmwood, starting in September.“I was really surprised but very happy to win the Student of the Year award,” he says. “I love greenkeeping and I don’t intend to rest on my achievements. Now I would like to get as much experience as possible, and with my native languages I believe there should be good prospects for my career, maybe even developing golf courses in different countries including Russia and the Baltic states.”Renowned for its leading golf training and education programmes, SRUC Elmwood boasts a number of famous graduates including Gordon Moir, director of greenkeeping, Gordon McKie, course manager of the Old Course and Kevin Muir, course manager of the Eden Course at St Andrews Links.