Fairway mowers are specialized pieces of golf course maintenance equipment designed to provide superior cutting ability.
The grass on the fairway is different from the grass on the tee box. Greens complex and rough. Therefore, it requires a different mower than all other areas on a golf course.
If the goal is to provide uniform striping and pristine playing conditions, a quality Fairway mower featuring a reel cutting design will provide just the results you are looking for!
Why Do You Need a Fairway Mower?
To properly maintain a golf course to a high standard, you will need several pieces of equipment. For example, the rough requires a rough mower, the green a greens mower and roller, and so on.
With the fairway being a long and integral part of a course, it’s not something you can compromise on. If you want great-looking fairways, and more importantly, to make your life easier, you need a quality fairway mower.
The grass on a fairway is typically mown to a height of 0.350-0.500 of an inch. To do this, and in a clean, uniform fashion, you need a mower that can accurately adjust to this level.
Fairway mowers are typically designed with three mowing heads and rollers that sit low to the ground. They can be adjusted by micro amounts to achieve the desired cut and look and are easy to maneuver.
Simply put, without a quality fairway mower, you will not be able to maintain your fairways to a high standard. As a result, the quality of play will suffer.
Types of Cuts You Can Achieve With Fairway Mowers
We’re sure you’ve seen the different patterns and types of cuts on other courses. For the most part, the pattern you see cut into a fairway is purely for looks and appearance.
However, if you’re after a certain look, it’s important to know which type of mower and how much work is involved.
Here are the three most popular styles of cuts you’ll see on fairways:
The classic cut is, as the name suggests, the way fairways were cut before lightweight fairway mowers and advances in striping made it easier for golf course superintendents to experiment with patterns.
You typically end up with a light and a dark half of a fairway. This is because the older, heavier mowers mow in a circular pattern.
This is by far the least expensive and quickest way to mow a fairway. It’s also the least impressive looking look from an aesthetic standpoint.
A contour cut is achieved by following the contours of a fairway’s twists, turns, and slopes. The result is long, sweeping stripes running down the fairway.
This is typically achieved by using a “push-pull” strategy. Mowers will first be used to “push” from the tee down to the green, then be “pulled” back from the green to the tee.
An average-sized golf course can expect to spend a few hundreds more man-hours over the course of a year performing a contour cut over a classic cut.
The most iconic and aesthetically pleasing cut for a golf course is what’s called “striping.” This is performed by mowers mowing in two directions and crossing paths.
The result is a checkerboard or crosshatch pattern of dark and light squares. This can only be achieved by using lightweight fairway mowers with good maneuverability.
Striping is the most time-consuming and expensive way to mow a fairway, but it’s also one of the most popular due to its impressive looks.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Fairway Mower
If you already have golf course equipment experience, you’ll know that no two mowers are the same.
While achieving the desired look as covered above is important. It’s equally important that you’re able to get the exact length you want as easily as possible.
To help you out, here are the most important things to consider when choosing a fairway mower:
How Easy Is It to Operate?
There are some incredibly advanced and intelligent golf equipment pieces, but they’re not always the best choice.
The complex a mower is, the more time you’ll spend training your workers. There’s nothing wrong with a simple model lacking some of the electronic features a more modern mower has if it achieves the desired cut.
What's the Quality of the Cut Like?
This is by far the most important question you have to ask when buying a fairway mower. You have to consider budget, ease-of-use as discussed, and some other things, of course.
But, if you can’t achieve a quality cut or the look you’re after, there’s no point buying the mower. We’re sure you’ll agree, a fairway that’s anything less than perfectly maintained compromises the whole golfing experience for your customers.
Is It Right for Your Course Terrain?
As we mentioned earlier, not two courses are the same. There is no “one-size-fits-all” when choosing a fairway mower, or any mower for that matter.
For example, some mowers are better than others at climbing hills and operating in wet conditions. At the same time, others can perform tighter turning circles to get into harder to reach places.
This should always be something you discuss with the seller before making a decision. If you can take one for a test cut, that’s even better.
The purchase price and maintenance costs always have to be a consideration. Hundreds of man-hours and hundreds of gallons of fuel are required to maintain the fairways on a course.
Finding a model that’s just a few percent more economical can have a big impact on your bottom line. It’s worth crunching the numbers before making a final decision.