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R&A greenkeeping machinery programme helps to grow the game

Clubs in Romania and Scotland are beneficiaries of R&A support.

12th August 2013
Managing for healthy grass,Optimising machinery,What golfers’ want
R&A donated machinery ready for action at the Transilvania Golf Club  

Transilvania Golf Club, located 20km outside of Cluj Napoca, the second largest city in Romania, has received a donation of a 5-gang fairway mower and two pedestrian greens mowers from The R&A; their application for assistance supported by the Romanian Golf Federation.

The site currently includes a driving range, practice putting green, short game practice area, 6-hole academy course, and the front 9 of a planned 18-hole course which is due for completion this year.   The facilities are available to anyone who wants to use them.

As a new development project, with the land for the site only having been acquired in May 2011, the emphasis has been on preparing the landscape for the establishment of playing surfaces.   As part of the Club’s wider commitment to protecting the natural environment and minimising energy, chemical and water usage, a new initiative has recently also been started to use a local solar electric supply to meet daily energy requirements.

Transilvania greens mower
Cutting the Transilvania greens with The R&A donated pedestrian mower

The machinery donated by The R&A is now working on site and will play an important role in the early years of the playing surface preparations.  Octavian Damian, Founder and President of Transilvania Golf Club, commented: “We have limited funds for capital investment and The R&A’s support in providing essential mowing equipment will prove invaluable as we try and bring our greens and fairways up to an acceptable standard.”  As an intuitive and effective solution for using the donated fairway gang mowers, a 4x4 vehicle is currently being employed to pull the equipment.  This is proving a successful and resource efficient approach for undertaking initial surface preparation work.

Romania is a country of only nine golf courses (with one further under construction) and 2 driving ranges, catering for an estimated 1,100 golfers.  It is hoped that this new facility in the heart of the Transylvanian Historical Region will see participation numbers grow considerably, especially taking into account that the population of the nearby city of Cluj Napoca is well in excess of 500,000 people with fast growing academic and information technology sectors.  For more information on Transilvania Golf Club, visit www.transilvaniagolf.ro/

Benbecula mower in action
The greens mower in action at Benbecula

Whilst The R&A wants to support growth of the game in emerging golf countries, it also provides help to Clubs much closer to home.  One such Club is Benbecula, located on the Western Isles of Scotland, which was provided with a contribution towards a reconditioned greens mower.  This 9-hole course, opened in 1984 and which is situated beside Benbecula Airport, had a greens mower that was over 12 years old.  The only other piece of machinery the Club own is second-hand gang mowers which were refurbished in-house and are considered fit for purpose.

The Club is investing in its future; currently constructing a new, but modest log-cabin type clubhouse building, with assistance from Sportscotland and Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar.  They anticipate that the improvement in facilities will enable them to attract new junior and lady members, in particular.  The current membership comprises 36 men, 1 woman, 8 seniors and 13 juniors, with in excess of 200 visitors playing the course each year.  With an expected increase in membership and more rounds of golf played the need for better greens will become a priority.  Although short in length, 4,500 yards for 18-holes, the frequent windy weather makes the course particularly challenging.  The Club expects the new clubhouse and better greens will help attract more visitors to use the facility and enhance golf in the Western Isles.

Currently, all work done on the course is by volunteers from within the membership, but they intend sourcing some funding towards the labour costs of employing a full-time greenkeeper for the 6 months growing season from 2014 onwards.

Benbecula Captain, Niall McPherson
Benbecula Club Captain, Niall McPherson, in typical breezy Western Isles weather!

Niall McPherson, Club Captain, expressed the Club’s appreciation of The R&A assistance: “Our Club is extremely grateful for the generous support of The R&A towards the purchase of a John Deere triple greens mower.  Without this support the Club could never dream of owning a machine of this quality.”

The new machine is making an early impact, as Niall adds: “Already, in a few short weeks, the standard of the greens has begun to improve and the machine will be central to the on-going improvements to the golf course for many years to come.  These improvements will also enhance the Club’s aspirations to increase junior golf development in Benbecula and North Uist, adding to the already increasing membership of our small Club.’’  For more information on Benbecula Golf Club visit www.benbeculagolfclub.co.uk/

Since its establishment in 2001, The R&A Greenkeeping Machinery Programme has seen over £3 million worth of greenkeeping equipment provided to golf facilities around the world.   Commenting on the continued success of the programme, Steve Isaac, The R&A’s Director – Golf Course Management, said: “Investment at the grass roots level of the game continues to be a key priority for The R&A globally.  The availability of essential greenkeeping machinery is often a fundamental limiting factor for many courses in their efforts to operate successfully and sustainably.  As such, we are delighted that through this programme we are able to provide direct assistance to help facilities that really need our support to prepare a better standard of playing surface.  We believe that better surfaces make for better golf and better golfers.”

An application form is available for facilities wishing to apply for assistance through The R&A Greenkeeping Machinery Programme from Wendy Cole at wendycole@randa.org   The programme is intended to help only those clubs which are unable to acquire the most basic of mowing machinery for greens and fairways.  All applications must be accompanied by a letter of support from the national golf governing body.  The programme is enabled directly by the on-going success of The Open and has already assisted golf facilities in more than 40 different countries.