John Deere has announced an extension of its commitment to The First Tee, the US-based non-profit youth development organisation that uses golf to teach life and leadership skills to young people.Deere’s support from 2017 to 2021 will focus on community service and volunteering, leadership skills for girls, and programme support of The First Tee activities in selected John Deere communities in North America.“Over the next five years, this initiative will encourage and recognise young people who take an active role in preparing for their future and serve the communities where they live,” said Mara Downing, president of the John Deere Foundation and director of corporate citizenship and global brand management at Deere & Company.A nationwide contest in the US will demonstrate the impact of leadership skills gained through community service and volunteerism with The First Tee. The First Tee participants, aged 14 to 18, will be invited to submit a written essay for the opportunity to win a $5000 college scholarship plus the opportunity to be a VIP guest and pro-am participant in 2017 at the John Deere Classic golf tournament in Silvis, Illinois.Essays will focus on how students are a ‘Power for Good’ through service to their communities, the impact their work is having, and how their work is connected to the values learned through The First Tee and the game of golf. The contest will be launched later this year.An event for girls focused on developing leadership skills within the context of the game of golf will be held in conjunction with LPGA-USGA Girls Golf in a selected The First Tee community. The winner of the national essay contest will be celebrated at this event, which will be the first ever for The First Tee to focus on leadership skills and golf awareness for a female-only audience.The John Deere Foundation will also provide funding to further develop The First Tee chapters in selected John Deere home communities, including the Quad Cities in Illinois and Iowa, Des Moines in Iowa and Cary, North Carolina.“Our team is thrilled to stand alongside John Deere to highlight the core values learned through involvement with the great game of golf,” said Jennifer Weiler, senior vice-president and chief development officer at The First Tee. “We are encouraged by companies like John Deere who believe the seeds of leadership are sown at a young age and that programmes such as The First Tee help the next generation to learn, grow and succeed.”The First Tee (www.thefirsttee.org) is a non-profit youth development organisation whose mission is to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programmes that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.With its home office at World Golf Village in St Augustine, Florida, The First Tee reaches young people on golf courses, in elementary schools and at other youth-serving locations. Since its inception in 1997, The First Tee has grown its network to deliver programmes in all 50 United States and selected international locations.In 2015, The First Tee brought character education through the game of golf to more than 4.7 million young people. The First Tee's Founding Partners are LPGA, the Masters Tournament, PGA of America, PGA TOUR and the USGA. Shell Oil Company is The First Tee's Founding Corporate Partner and Johnson & Johnson is its Legacy Partner. Former President George W Bush serves as honorary chair.
A new John Deere 7700A PrecisionCut ride-on cylinder mower supplied by dealer Tallis Amos Group has been presenting players and spectators at the Brewin Dolphin Cheltenham Cricket Festival with a perfectly mown and presented outfield on Cheltenham College first XI's pitch.This annual event, which is organised by Gloucestershire Cricket Club, is the world's longest running cricket festival on an outfield and has taken place against the picturesque backdrop of Cheltenham College since its inception in 1872.The two-week long festival has been sponsored by Brewin Dolphin for the past 15 years and the 2016 tournament was one of the most exciting yet – for the first time international cricket was played at this historic ground. Spectators were treated to two Specsavers County Championship matches, one NatWest T20 Blast, two tourist matches including England Lions, and one Royal London One-Day Cup match.It was a programme that put a lot of pressure on Christian Brain, Cheltenham College's head groundsman, and his six staff; pressure that has been alleviated with the purchase of the John Deere 7700A mower.“We can mow only at the end of the day's play, which can be late in the evening,” says Christian. “Our previous ride-on was a three-cylinder model and we always struggled to get round the outfield in the time available, plus it was old and there were breakdown issues. The five-cylinder 7700A enables us to mow the area far quicker, within an hour rather than an hour-and-a-half.”Spring 2015 saw the start of the search for a replacement mower, when Cheltenham College had two competitive five-cylinder ride-ons on demonstration. “We chose the 7700A for a number of reasons,” says Christian. “John Deere has an excellent reputation for quality of cut and reliability, and we have a good relationship with the local dealer Tallis Amos Group (TAG), who are on our doorstep in Evesham.“We knew that their back-up would be good if there were any issues and they were extremely accommodating. They let us have a 7700A on trial for the whole fortnight of last year's Festival, so we had plenty of time to evaluate the mower and give it a good workout under practical conditions.”TAG delivered the 7700A in September, when it joined a John Deere 2653A ride-on triple fitted with grass boxes and an HPX Gator 4x4 utility vehicle. Prior to the Festival, during the summer term the 7700A is used to cut the outfield on the College's first XI cricket pitch and maintain a further two College grounds, the prep school's and Reeves Field. After the Festival the cutting height is raised and it moves onto preparing the rugby pitches. “The mower is in use virtually year-round,” says Christian.During the Festival the 7700A's primary role is maintaining the College first XI's outfield at a cutting height of 13mm and overall width of 2.5m, producing as Christian says a “far superior” quality of cut from the seven-blade QA (Quick Adjust) reels. “TAG programmed the TechControl display to our specification regarding forward and reel speeds so the mower runs smoothly,” he says. “It is comfortable to operate, with effortless steering and turning. Maintenance is also straightforward. One member of staff is dedicated to this and he carried out the 7700A's 200-hour service without any problem.“The mower’s LoadMatch system is efficient, so it doesn't struggle in lusher grass, and fuel economy is much better than our previous machine’s. We usually have to change the cutting height only twice a year, for a summer cut and a much longer winter cut, but the QA feature means that this can be done comfortably within a couple of hours, and the fine adjustments within minutes. These are all technical features that enable us to get the job done quicker and more efficiently.”In addition to the mower’s output and high standard of cut, the 7700A has also allowed the look of the outfield to be improved significantly, while contributing to the promotion of a healthier sward. “With our previous mower we could cut only in one direction, which is not good for the grass as it pushes it one way,” says Christian.“The 7700A is fitted with groomers, which lift the grass and also enable us to create a chequered pattern – we now intend to do this on as many pitches as we can throughout the year. We have had no technical issues with the mower, which has taken the pressure off the staff during an intense period, while enabling us to improve the quality of cut on the outfield and its presentation. Throughout the Festival the umpires congratulated us on the condition of the pitch.”