Southwick Park Golf Club Invests in Baroness 

For all its benefits to soil structure and aeration, the humble earthworm poses a good few problems to the fine playing surfaces needed for golf, especially since chemical treatments have been ruled out.

Even with the greater tolerance of a fairway, the casts they leave can play havoc with the blades of a cylinder mower at specific times of year. At Southwick Park’s picturesque course nestled in the South Hampshire Countryside, the preferred solution is to cut the fairways in critical periods using the Baroness GM2810A bought for the rough because its rotary blades are much better able to cope with the pesky little mounds which can blunt a cylinder blade in no time.

Fundamental to Course Manager Jim Fancey’s thinking is the fact that cutting height adjustment on the GM2810A is significantly quicker than on the machine he had used previously. “What used to take two to two-and-a-half hours now takes us a matter of maybe 20 minutes, so we can relatively quickly have it ready to run at the appropriate height for the fairways,” he says. “All you have to do is move the spacers – that was a massive selling point for us.”

With a growing fleet of Baroness mowers sourced from Lister Wilder, Jim didn’t need any convincing that the brand was the right one. “I wanted the GM2810 because it would be the final piece in our Baroness jigsaw but I still asked for a demo because I always try before I buy,” he says.  “I also like to ensure that everyone who is going to use it has a chance to try new machinery and give their opinions because it isn’t just about what I think.”

The outcome was an enthusiastic thumbs up for the GM2810A. “We liked it despite the fact that we would be going from seven cutting units on our old machine to five on this one and losing a bit of width,” says Jim. “The reality was that, given its power, maneuverability and quality of cut, we experienced no difference in the time it takes to cut the rough.”

He adds: “We already had confidence, not just in the brand but in the quality of the support and back-up provided by Baroness and Lister Wilder. The fact that we knew we could get parts, service and technical advice very quickly was key for me.”

The GM2810 is designed to deliver a high work-rate, superb quality of cut and high maneuverability on the most demanding of terrain. Its five independently mounted cutting decks ensure maximum contour following in all conditions. On the maintenance front, the rear cutting decks swing out for ease of access including to the powerful Kubota engine with its high-torque wheel motors and on-demand four-wheel drive. It adds up to a machine that is comfortable and safe to use on the most demanding slopes and turns.

The new mower makes a key contribution to one of Hampshire’s most beautiful courses, looked after by a greenkeeping team well used to hands-on hard work. In the eight years since Jim took over as Course Manager they have tackled a whole succession of improvement projects in-house, most notably improving drainage on fairways and installing drainage on nine of the old school ‘push-up’ greens. The club’s history dates back to 1970 when the Royal Navy Golfing Society proposed the site as a course. Funding was assembled and work began in 1975 for an opening in 1977. Today, civilian members are as important to the club’s structure as those with a naval background.

On your way into the course you will pass Southwick House which itself rates as a hidden gem of British wartime history. In 1941, after heavy bombing of Portsmouth dockyard, the house was requisitioned for military use and went on to host the planning for D-Day. In the final build-up, it became the headquarters of the main allied commanders, including Allied Supreme Commander General Eisenhower, Naval Commander-in-Chief Admiral Ramsay and Army Commander-in-Chief General Montgomery. The large wall maps that were used on D-Day are still in place in the main map room.