Ipswich firm makes the cut at Ryder Cup
- Credit: Archant
The grass at this year’s Ryder Cup golf tournament will be kept trim and tidy using equipment that was engineered and made in Ipswich.
Ransomes Jacobsen is an official supplier of the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National near Paris, which means that £2m of Ransomes Jacobsen turf equipment is being used to maintain the course.
A team of about 190 volunteers from across the world will be tasked with the job of getting up before dawn to keep the course shipshape, armed with a fleet of Ransomes Jacobsen mowers. “As well as the 42 pieces of our equipment that the course already owns and uses every day, we’re loaning about 60 pieces of our equipment to the course for the Ryder Cup,” he explained Ransomes Jacobsen’s managing director, Alan Prickett. “There’s a massive demand for volunteer places, so they need enough machinery to give all those people something meaningful to do - and some spare capacity if needed.”
Because each mower needs to be off the course long before the players arrive, it means an early start for the volunteers.
“At 4.30am they will be lined up with all the machines in rows of eight, all running in the same direction so there are no stripes,” explained Mr Prickett. “The old way of doing it, which involved mowing up and down, you got dark and light stripes on the grass. If the golfers ball landed on a light stripe it would run further than on a dark stripe, so now they have to be cut in the same direction.”
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As well as mowing the course again after play, there are also other daily tasks involved in maintaining the grass up to the highest standard expected for the Ryder Cup. “The bunkers have to be raked, and when the mowers go back in the workshop they are sharpened ready for the next day, so its pretty much a 24 hour operation,” explained Mr Prickett.
The Ryder Cup itself was brought to the Ransomes Jacobsen factory at Ransomes Europark in Ipswich this week, closely guarded by security staff, so the company’s staff could pose for pictures with it before the tournament kicks off on September 28.
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It will be a proud moment for Mr Prickett, and the culmination of two years of hard work since his company won the Ryder Cup contract. “Its very exciting for all of us in Ipswich,” he said. “A good few of the machines that are being used in France are built here in our factory so there’s a level of pride amongst the workforce - because if you are good enough for the Ryder Cup, then you’re good enough for anybody.”
Mr Prickett admits he’s “rubbish” at golf himself - “I spent more time behind the desk and don’t get time to practise,” he claims. But his staff members who deal with the company’s key accounts have to play well - “and they do,” he added.
Ransomes Jacobsen has cultivated a long standing relationship with Le Golf National, and has been their supplier for the last 15 years. Le Golf National’s golf courses and estate manager Alejandro Reyes, was sponsored through a career development programme in Spain by Ransomes Jacobsen. He said: “The quality of machinery, the back-up support, and the product innovation are just some of the reasons we choose Jacobsen. Together, we have created a world-class golf course that will host The 2018 Ryder Cup, and the Olympics in 2024.”
The 2018 Ryder cup will be the first one that Ransomes Jacobsen Ltd has supplied equipment for, although the former Ransomes business supplied Ryder Cups several times throughout its long history. “The last one I was directly involved with was way back in the early 90s at the Balfrey which was a Ransomes fleet,” recalled Mr Prickett.
The original company was started by Robert Ransome in 1789 when he started casting ploughshares in a disused malting in Ipswich. As a result of a mishap in his foundry, a broken mould caused molten metal to come into contact with cold metal, making the metal surface extremely hard – chilled casting – which he advertised as ‘self sharpening’ ploughs, and received patents for his discovery.
Ransomes played a vital role in the war effort, manufacturing Vicars FE2B fighter bomber planes in the First World War and heavy artillery in the second.
“In 1981, when I started on an internship, we had 3,500 employees,” recalled Mr Prickett. “We are now down to 350 because we don’t make agricultural machinery anymore.” Since 1998, Ransomes Jacobsen has been part of the industrial division of Textron, an American conglomerate with a multi-billion dollar turnover.