Maintaining Your Golf Course
Different Mowers for Different Tasks
Greens Mowers are three wheeled Diesel ride on mower with three cylinder cutting units. On the hillier courses they opt for a 3wd system on the machine to aid getting around the course. A cylinder usually has between 10 and 15 blades to get the low height of cut that is required in golf (some greenkeepers cut as low as 2mm in season). Greens mowers tend to be lightweight to produce a low foot print due to being used almost daily in the cutting season.
There are three ways to power the cutting cylinder hydraulic, electric and cable drive as used in the Baroness LM315 is one of them. The advantage of using an electric and cable drive is that the mower doesn’t need to get to temperature before the cylinders are engaged, reducing the chances of a hydraulic leak which will kill the grass and contaminate the soil.
As more sand is being used these days in greenkeeping, many greenkeepers are looking towards buying a greens mower that has tough blades. Tough blades stay sharper for longer, saving in both cost and man hours replacing and sharpening blades.
Other options available on a green’s mower are groomers or brushes that fit on the cutting cylinder and the aim of this is to stand the grass up before the cutting cylinder cuts it, leading to a more uniform cut.
Tees, Surrounds, and Aprons Mower
Tees mowers are three wheeled just like a greens mower, but with a couple of differences. Usually Tees mowers will have less cutting blades on the cylinder as the grass is cut higher and less frequently on tees and surrounds. The number of blades is usually between 7 and 10 with a thicker bottom blade. Some courses will use a greens mower but with different cutting units or will opt for a different style of triple mower like the Baroness LM331.
Due to an increasing number of worms (as chemicals are being banned), having a mower with tough blades will make for less down time as the blades won't need to be replaced or sharpened as often. Baroness are the market leader due to having the toughest cutting blades.
Fairway Mowers are overall a larger machine than the above mowers due to the amount of grass they need to cut. Usually a four wheeled, five cutting unit platform, although three wheeled machines are making a move into the market and some clubs opt for a machine with 7 cutting cylinders. The number of blades can vary from 7 to 9, and the height of the cut range can be anywhere from 8 to 18mm depending on the course and the time of year. Most clubs require the mower to have 4 wheel drive.
The weight and build quality are much stronger than smaller triple unit mowers as they have to travel on fairways that aren't as smooth as golf greens and tees. Again, due to a large proportion of clubs having worm problems on the fairways, the option of having tougher cutting blades is becoming more popular. Some manufacturers have put a large number of electronics onto their machines to improve fuel efficiency,cut quality and mower speed. The down side to this is in a climate like the UK, (when many of the machines are kept for around 10 years and have to work and are stored in damp conditions), electrical faults often occur and can be very expensive to fix.
The Baroness LM551, LM2400, LM2700 are different as they have been kept simple without electronics, thus ensuring a mower that is basic to use and maintain, hopefully leading to a lower cost of ownership yet still delivering the best quality of cut in their class.
These machines again are larger machines and often bigger than fairway mowers. The cutting system for most changes to a rotary mower as the height of cut and quality doesn’t need to be as fine as height of cut can vary from 30mm-60mm. These machines are designed to cut large areas of grass.
Like the fairway mowers, some manufacturers have chosen to go down the route of fitting quite complex electrical systems onto the mowers, the Baroness GM2810 is basic like the other machines in the Baroness range. Although it does have a proven electric DPF system fitted this is where the complex electronics stop. The GM2810 is proud to be simple to operate and maintain making the ownership a very pleasant experience.
The rotary blades are again in line with the Baroness brand of being tough, meaning a longer life span. Also, with a very simple height adjustment the machine can be used at different heights without much work and with the anti-scalp dish on the blades the machine can follow undulating ground without scalping the turf.
In the past all courses used hand mowers for cutting the greens, but as staff numbers are decreasing in the golf course industry many now see daily hand mowing as a luxury.
Mowers generally range from 17” to 24” width of cut and with varying number of blades on the cylinder dependant on what the machine will be used for.
There are a number of advantages of hand mowing whether it be for appearance, ground conditions or areas that are very tight to mow for a ride-on machine. The cost to purchase a hand mower is much less than a ride on, but the fact you would usually need to own multiple machines and need more staff to operate them can be a balance if the hand mower is the right machine for the golf club to purchase.
As in most industries mowers are becoming electric and autonomous. There are a small number of mowers that are currently all electric on the market. All manufacturers seem to be looking at making their machines more environmentally friendly.
Will the future of golf course mowing be done by a team of robots with staff numbers falling dramatically to make way for our robot friends? For now, the diesel engine will still be a common sight in most golf course machines but for how long?
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