More kokua: Never on an island

Supportive partners are key to helping Big Island courses obtain the equipment needed to make turf shine.

A warehouse above Nanea Golf Club’s back nine provides a glimpse into the level of industry support on the Big Island.

Through distributor Pacific Golf & Turf, John Deere has established a loaner equipment program in the warehouse. The program is designed to help courses by making a spare triplex, fairway mower and rough mower available whenever fleet issues arise. Pacific Golf & Turf services Hawaii from a location in Oahu, 150 nautical miles from the Big Island golf hub of Kailua-Kona.

“If something went down, you were down,” Nanea director of golf course maintenance Scott Main says. “John Deere has made a good presence on the island and that’s one of the things we were asking for – just to have a few backups here.”

How can access to a spare mower help a course?

“It’s the difference between mowing fairways by 10 a.m. or mowing fairways by 2 p.m.,” Main says. “That just kind of snowballs every job after that. It is big. We have used it twice since I have been here for just small stuff. Stuff breaks down on equipment and some of those parts you don’t keep in stock.”

Shipping golf maintenance equipment and parts to a Big Island course is a dizzying process. Let John Deere sales manager John O’Leary, whose territory includes Hawaii, explain.

“When you order equipment on the mainland, depending on the time of the year, it can be two weeks to about six weeks to get your equipment,” he says. “On the Big Island, it’s a three- to four-month deal to get your equipment. From the time it’s ordered, it leaves our factory in North Carolina, goes to the port in Los Angeles, sits there until they get the cargo ship loaded up, comes into Oahu, towing must be arranged to get it to the dealer, the dealer then puts it into service and then they have to get towing to get it back to the port. If it’s going off (Oahu), then it goes back down to the port, gets loaded onto a ship, gets brought to the other island and you have to arrange towing. It’s then picked up and delivered to the customer.

“It’s the most challenging of the areas that I cover. Parts are the same way. That’s what separates us the most – our parts distribution, not only from the ag side, but the golf side. They can order it on a Monday and it will be here Wednesday. From what we understand, that’s been pretty rare for anybody.”

Despite the challenges, general manager Steve Cotton says Pacific Golf & Turf treats the Big Island with the same level of attention as other territories.

“We cover a large geography in the Pacific Northwest, so the time between customers isn’t really that dissimilar,” Cotton says. “To respond to a customer in Missoula, Montana, it would take you five or six hours to get there. In Hawaii, to respond to a customer, would take five or six hours. You just have to jump onto an airplane instead of jumping into your car.”

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