Renowned for its leading greenkeeping and golf course management training and education programmes, which have produced many of the world’s top greenkeepers, SRUC Elmwood Golf Course has recently invested in a new fleet of John Deere and ancillary equipment supplied by local dealer The Double A Trading Company Ltd.
Bought with a full service and maintenance contract following a rigorous three-way tender process, the extensive John Deere fleet includes new A Model fairway, rough and surrounds mowers, walk-behind and ride-on greens mowers, Gator utility vehicles, amenity turf sprayer and top dresser attachments, compact tractors and a commercial walk-behind rotary mower.
The deal also included a Tru-Turf greens roller, Lewis 2-tonne trailer and an Air 2G2 air injection machine, all supplied by Double A, who additionally advised the college on converting and equipping the course workshop to John Deere dealer standards.
“The SRUC procurement team did a lot of the groundwork for the tender, and I was involved in the assessment and scoring process,” says Matt Baird, deputy manager, course management at SRUC Elmwood. The college is located at Cupar in Fife, close to the ‘home of golf’ at St Andrews Links. “The rest of the greenkeeping team also gave constructive feedback on the machines we had on demonstration.
“This was the first time I’ve been involved in such a process and it was really interesting to see how a whole package deal like this comes together. The response from John Deere and Double A was very comprehensive, and they scored particularly well on areas like service and maintenance, call-out times, operator training and overall value for money.
“In addition, Double A could offer everything we needed, across the board, which was a definite plus. We worked together to identify the best equipment choices, and I was also introduced some things I never knew about, such as the Air 2G2 injector.”
As the only college of its kind in the country with a fully working 18-hole golf course that boasts 550 members plus pay-and-play visitors all year round, as well as a driving range and a teaching and short game area, SRUC Elmwood presents a unique challenge.
As Matt Baird explains, “We have to balance the college’s educational needs with the demands of running a commercial golf course, hence the size and variety of the equipment fleet. The machines are in constant use in all conditions year in, year out, so they need to be 100 per cent reliable all the time, and not just sitting in the shed for half the year.”
Students on the one-year NC, HNC and HND courses at the college really benefit from their real-time experience on a working golf course, adds Matt Baird, who started at SRUC Elmwood as an instructor in 2006. (Double A Trading dealer principal Sandy Armit was himself a graduate of the college in 1981).
“A big part of greenkeeping is working around member golfers, and students need that exposure and experience. They can get practically involved in all the issues rather than just talk about them in a classroom, and it’s a good discipline for our course staff as well – the whole team has contact with the students in one way or another, from supervising individuals to overseeing project work.“As a result, the course is constantly changing – as part of their course students have to complete certain tasks, so they’re always doing something, whether it’s remodelling tees, bunkers or greens or any other type of on-course work. It all feeds into the curriculum and goes a long way to explaining how the college has built up such a great reputation for training first-class greenkeepers.”
Final year graduate student Simon Dexter from Grantham in Lincolnshire has won the 2015 SRUC Elmwood Student of the Year Award, which was sponsored by John Deere for the first time this year.Simon was judged the college’s best overall HND Golf Course Management student and was presented with his award certificate by Sandy Armit of local John Deere dealer The Double A Trading Company Ltd, on the college campus at Cupar in north-east Fife. SRUC Elmwood is renowned for its leading golf training and education programmes, and boasts a number of famous graduates including Gordon McKie, course manager of The Old Course at nearby St Andrews as well as Gordon Moir, director of greenkeeping and Kevin Muir, course manager of the Eden Course.Simon, who is an R&A Greenkeeping Scholar and a member of BIGGA, won gift vouchers to the value of £300 for golf supplies from The Old Course shop at St Andrews Links, where he worked in 2013, 2014 and 2015 as a seasonal greenkeeper, working under course managers Gordon McKie and Kevin Muir.After working for a grounds maintenance company and as a trainee groundsman at a private school in his early 20s, Simon gained a Level 2 Sports Science qualification at Myerscough College. He then began his greenkeeping education on the Ohio State Programme in the US in 2012/2013, studying cool and warm season grass species and learning about all aspects of turf science.“After leaving school I just fell in love with working with turf,” he says. “I then wanted to seek out a fresh challenge, so the Ohio State Programme was an exciting opportunity for me to progress my education and learn new skills.“I’m now planning to return to Myerscough to take a BSc Hons degree course starting in September, and then possibly do a Masters degree on some aspect of the environment, biodiversity and sustainability. I believe there will be some interesting opportunities relating to golf courses in this area in the future.”The college’s judging panel praised Simon Dexter for his excellent standard of work submitted in all units and motivation to learn as much as he could about his chosen career, and put this into practice. The award citation added: “Simon has a great passion to progress in the industry, which came out in all his efforts, and displayed a very professional image at such a young age. He stood out as a learner who gained so much more in terms of education and personal development in his time with us.”