Hayling Golf Club Invests in Ryetec

A round at Hayling Golf Club on the South Coast is a memorable experience at any time. A classic seaside links with subtly undulating greens, hidden borrows and some cleverly positioned bunkers, it offers a pleasurable challenge as well as some outstanding views.

But at the right times of year your round could also take in a glimpse of a merlin or peregrine. You could also tune in to the songs of the Dartford warbler, linnet or skylark; while down at ground level you could well enjoy a colony of striking green winged orchids, and butterflies in profusion. No surprise then that the site justifies SSSI status and that the responsibilities of Hayling Golf Club include a big slice of management.

Hayling is far from alone in its conservation mission. With over 3,000 golf courses in the UK contributing around 126,000 ha of green space, they are well placed to help provide for wildlife and provide connectivity between habitats.

Answerable to Natural England in caring for the SSSI, the role is one that the 500 members at Hayling take seriously to the extent that the club has invested in mechanising the substantial task of cutting grass in wilder areas and trimming the gorse that would otherwise take over more than its share of this fragile habitat. The machines chosen to do the job are a pair of Ryetec flail mowers sourced from Area Sales Manager Mark Carter at Lister Wilder. 

Also ideal for leaf collection, the smaller P1600 that has been chosen for the rough grass has a cutting width of 1.6m and a hopper capacity of 1.3 cubic metres, with a height of cut of up to 150mm. The larger C2000 has cutting widths up to 2.2m and employs heavy duty hardened cast flail hammers. It also offers optional front castor wheels that are height adjustable, and fine cutting height adjustment. A floating linkage allows it to follow ground contours effectively.

Providing the power for the Ryetecs at Hayling is a Kubota M5 tractor with  95hp engine, regarded in the industry as both reliable and highly efficient.Thanks to its bevel gear front axle and high ground clearance, the M5 is extremely manoeuvrable, which is key to the gorse cutting operation.

Course Manager Greig Easton is in no doubt that the Ryetecs are delivering excellent value. “The price was a consideration in choosing them as opposed to competitors that cost a great deal more,” he says. “We could have spent three times the money on a competitor, but the end result and quality of finish would have been no better, the Ryetecs are perfectly suited to our needs. . 

He adds: “I am really happy with them. They are light and manoeuvrable on the back of a tractor and have proved to be  very reliable while doing a tough job. They save us a great deal of time when compared with cutting with a hand mower and raking up, or cutting by hand.”

Managing invasive gorse is one of a series of multi-faceted challenges that define the role that Greig has fulfilled at Hayling over the past six years. Another occupational hazard lies in maintaining a green sward given that the course has little soil and is built on sand overlying gravel. 

“We have to make efficient use of the water resources we have got and are working with a hydrogeologist at the moment to make more of the water that we have beneath the site,” he says. “It is very challenging but also very rewarding because we have improved the course a lot in recent years in terms of the aesthetics, the topography and the challenges that it poses for the golfer.”

Our interview with Greig took place shortly before he took on a whole series of new challenges as Course Manager at the celebrated Royal St George’s at Sandwich.