A superior quality of cut and no hydraulic leaks are just two of the reliable features that have made superintendents loyal to this “neat and green” model.
Golf course superintendents are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest in equipment technology, and eager to try out any new machine or mower that holds out the promise of helping them realize new efficiencies and improving the quality of their course conditions.
At the same time, when superintendents find something that works, they’ll stick with it and make sure it’s used to maximum effectiveness—especially when it comes to maintaining greens, as the most critical part of their courses.
That’s been the case for two superintendents at very different types of properties, who have each stayed loyal to different models of Jacobsen® Eclipse® 322 greens mowers since first gaining experience with the machines eight years ago.
At the Cleveland Heights Golf Club in Lakeland, Fla., a 27-hole municipal golf course that sees 70,000 rounds annually, Golf Course Superintendent Dustin Plemons has had three gasoline hybrid Eclipse 322 mowers for four years, and is about to get a new fleet as part of the property’s regular equipment turnover in that timeframe. Plemons’ familiarity with the riding greens mowers, however, goes back to when he was charmed by them for the first time when using them at a previous property in 2010.
“When we have to raise our greens speed, [the Eclipse 322] is the mower we use. Sequoyah is known for fast greens, and it definitely delivers what we’re looking for.” -Armando Sanchez, Golf Course Superintendent, Sequoyah CC
And at Sequoyah Country Club, an 18-hole private property in Oakland, Calif., Golf Course Superintendent Armando Sanchez has had one diesel hybrid Eclipse 322 for about eight years.
The two superintendents agree that the Eclipse 322 has proved to have many reliable benefits as they’ve used it for all of those years. But two features stand out as the most consistent and valuable payoffs gained from the machines: quality of cut, and the absence of hydraulics to eliminate the risk of leaks and turf damage to the greens.
“The quality of cut [with the Eclipse 322] is the best I’ve ever gotten,” Plemons states. “There’s a clean cut every time.”
Sanchez agrees. “We ran competitors, but the Eclipse 322 quality of cut was phenomenal compared to the other mowers. That was the selling point.”
The lack of hydraulics is also a strong selling point, the superintendents agree, not only because the lack of leaks avoids the need for costly and disruptive turf repairs. In addition, they note, staff technicians don’t have to worry about hydraulic fluid, valve, or hoses when maintaining the equipment. And by taking hydraulic leaks out of the equation, the mower eliminates the chance for soil and water contamination as well.
Because the mower has no hydraulics, notes Sanchez, the only required maintenance is changing the oil and sharpening the blades. Sequoyah CC’s technician changes the fluids every year. And with so few requirements for upkeep, the Eclipse 322 keeps down maintenance costs as well.
On the gasoline hybrid models, Plemons says, only the engines require normal service, such as oil and filter changes.
The Jacobsen® Eclipse® 322 greens mowers used at Cleveland Heights GC (pictured at the top) normally run at 3 mph, but the speed can be increased to improve productivity during tournaments or other special events.
In addition to the hybrid mowers, the Eclipse 322 is also available in a battery-operated model. And while the battery operated option eliminates gas and diesel usage entirely, the hybrid mowers can reduce fuel consumption by up to 50 percent, and operating costs by up to 86 percent.
Both superintendents also like the “green” aspect of using the mower, with the quality of cut yielding healthier turf that lets them reduce chemical and water applications. The hybrid mower’s smaller engine also reduces emissions, Plemons notes.
The environmentally friendly features of the Eclipse 322 translate into properties being able to save up to 630 gallons of fuel and have up to 26 fewer gallons of waste oil annually, in addition to not having the need to dispose of waste hydraulic oil, according to Jacobsen.
Programmed for Success
Other features that help Cleveland Heights GC and Sequoyah CC use the Eclipse 322 to produce optimum results on their greens include the mowers’ programmable settings, which help the course and grounds crews at each club better meet the specific conditions of their individual golf courses.
“The quality of cut [with the
Eclipse 322] is the best I’ve ever gotten. There’s a clean cut every time.”
— Dustin Plemons, Golf Course Superintendent, Cleveland Heights GC
A programmable frequency of clip allows the machines to be tailored to achieve consistent playing conditions and healthy turf, regardless of the operator. The mowers’ speed, transport speed, and other settings can be programmed into the unit through a password-protected menu.
“When we have to raise our greens speed, that’s the mower we use,” says Sanchez. “Sequoyah is known for fast greens, and [the Eclipse] definitely delivers what we’re looking for.” In addition, settings can be altered as course conditions change throughout the year. Full on-board diagnostics and monitoring are displayed through an LCD screen and on LED readouts on the controllers.
With its individual reel control, the Eclipse 322 can engage one, two, or all three cutting units. By lowering only the reels that are selected, the mower engages them for complete control of striping patterns, minimizing the risk of a triplex ring wear pattern. The swing-out center reel gives operators easy access for adjustment and service.
An ergonomically designed cockpit has swing-out armrest controls, and an LED headlight and other features reduce fatigue, improve visibility, and put the controls within reach. The self-actuating, automatic parking brake is maintenance free and applies automatically when the pedal accelerator is released. The steer-by-wire system eliminates hydraulics and cables, allowing for quick turns and assuring straight lines.
Sanchez also likes that the mower is quiet and easy to operate. While the batteries on the hybrid models do not have enough capacity to supply full power, operators can select a “whisper mode” that allows them to transport at engine idle, for reduced noise levels.
And when needed or desired, the mower has the capability of increasing the productivity of the grounds crew.
“When we have a tournament, I can speed them up so we can get done faster,” Plemons says. “Or we can slow them down to get a better quality of cut. We have the ability to do whatever we want.”
Normally, the Cleveland Heights maintenance staff runs the mowers at 3 mph, but the speed can be increased to 5 mph during tournaments or other special events, Plemons notes.
During the Florida club’s busiest times, he adds, all three of the Eclipse 322s might be sent out every day. In the offseason during the summertime, however, the staff often uses only one Eclipse 322 daily.
The Sequoyah staff has four or five operators that run the Eclipse 322. “We have had few problems with it, but we teach them what to look for if something happens,” Sanchez says. “They need to make sure the reels are turning, and there is a gauge that tests the default on the mower.”
Like Sanchez, Plemons also appreciates the ease of operation of the Eclipse 322 mowers. “It is the first mower new employees are trained on, because it is so easy to use,” he says.
Adding to its versatility, the Eclipse 322 also offers a complete line of attachments. The maintenance department at Cleveland Heights has verticutting and roller attachments for its models. While the staff uses the verticutters four or five times a year, the crew members use the rollers frequently. “They do a phenomenal job,” Plemons says.