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Buying a machine

Posted by mynormas on January 27, 2014


This article is not about “what machine to buy”; but about “why you should consider buying a tractor instead of a golf course machine”. In the context of Malaysia; there is just not enough of good mechanics for golf courses especially for golf courses that are further away from KL or major cities where suppliers will have their support teams. And lets face it, most suppliers are pretty stretched in trying to meet demands of after-sales support too.

So why don’t golf courses that don’t have good mechanics and cannot depend on suppliers back-up consider buying tractor mounted mowers to mow their roughs? Or even fairways?

Good fairway from a cheap tractor

Good fairway from a cheap tractor

I know you will give the answer: a five-gang mower will give a better quality of cut than a tractor mounted/towed reel mower, let alone rotary mower. Really? Maybe in the beginning. MAY. BE.

I’m sure you will agree that a tractor mounted or towed rotary mower that’s  out in the field working will give you a better quality rough or fairway than a five-gang mower in the workshop. Never mind the cost of repairs. Never mind the cost of back-lapping or grinding the reels. Never mind the cost of bedknives.

I’ve seen a golf course that don’t know how to set the height on their reel mowers buy a rough mower that sat in the workshop more than it works in the field. And that machine, that only a good golf course mechanic can repair, costs ten times more than a mini-tractor that their current mechanic, or the mechanic at the oil palm plantation next door, or the mechanic at the nearest heavy machinery workshop in town can handle.

The lovegrass just springs back up behind the mower. But notice that the leaves are quite nice.

The lovegrass just springs back up behind the mower.

I’ve seen a golf course that’s infested with lovegrass (Chrysopogon aciculatus) trying to solve the problem with 11-bladed reels on their fairway mower! No kidding! I was there the day the delivery was made. The delivery guy shrugged and said “that’s what they ordered” when I pointed at the box and looked at him wide-eyed. Months later they asked me how to solve the lovegrass problem: I said, “rotary mowers pulled by mini tractors!” They bought two China-made mini tractors with rotary mowers (they call them slashers) for half the cost of a single five-gang mower, and their fairways looked so much better.

Lets keep this short and to the point. For Malaysian golf courses, football fields, local councils or anyone else that don’t have a good (experienced, trained, qualified) mechanic buy tractors or mini tractors  with rotary mowers or slashers or mowas or even reel mowers. You will find them cheaper by a whole lot. Cheaper to buy and cheaper to maintain. Heck, you can even find reliable second-hand tractors good enough! Only problem with that is you may end up with a few brands or models of tractors on your field.

A word of advice; buy four-wheel drive tractors even if your field is flat. It gives better traction when the field is wet without damaging your grass.

The best thing about a tractor is; you can use it for many other things with the right implements; that tractor can help you with transport, spraying, aeration etc. No. That is not the best thing. The best thing is that it is cheap. Much cheap. More-than-half-the-price kinda cheap.

You will find a lot more people to help you maintain it; especially if you are not near KL or other major cities. Especially compared to a purpose-built, single-use five-gang mower.

To my friends who sell golf course machinery; this is about the client. Not your machine, not your brand.

Among the many possible uses of a tractor.

Among the many possible uses of a tractor.

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