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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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MeadowWood Golf Course buying $100,000 lawnmower

Dave Bobillot, of Mount Vernon, Wash., hits out of the sand on the 9th hole during the Rosauers Open Invitational, July 15, 2016, at MeadowWood Golf Course in Liberty Lake, Wash. MeadowWood is buying a $100,000 lawnmower for cutting the rough.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Dave Bobillot, of Mount Vernon, Wash., hits out of the sand on the 9th hole during the Rosauers Open Invitational, July 15, 2016, at MeadowWood Golf Course in Liberty Lake, Wash. MeadowWood is buying a $100,000 lawnmower for cutting the rough. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

A $100,000 lawn mower could mean landing in the rough at MeadowWood Golf Course won’t be the score killer it used to be.

During their Tuesday meeting, Spokane County commissioners approved the Parks, Recreation and Golf Department’s request to spend $166,000 on new equipment for MeadowWood.

The course is trading in one mower for $50,000. At the same time, MeadowWood is buying a $30,000 turf aerator, a $25,000 drivable bunker raker, a $47,000 mower for putting greens and a $100,000 mower for the rough. The rough is the less-manicured grass on the outer edges of a fairway.

MeadowWood Golf Course Superintendent Mitch McPhilomy explained that buying the $100,000 mower – a Toro Groundsmaster 4700 – is necessary to handle the 120 acres of rough on the course. To some extent, supply chain issues have increased the mower’s cost, but commercial mowers are always expensive, McPhilomy said.

“That’s just the price that we’re having to pay,” he said, noting that the mower won’t arrive for 10 to 12 months. “It’s not anything that we’re really having to dip into the county funds to purchase.”

The new mower won’t cut grass as quickly, but it’ll be better in a handful of ways, McPhilomy said.

For one, it’s better equipped to handle bumpy surfaces. The course’s current mower is built for flat ground.

The Groundsmaster 4700 is like an octopus. It boasts seven unconnected cutting “decks.” As the mower drives over uneven terrain the individual decks can move up and down independently, hugging the ground. That creates a consistent cut. The current mower sometimes struggles to leave a consistent cut, and it can lop off hunks of turf, too.

An even cut improves course aesthetics, but McPhilomy explained there are practical advantages for buying the new mower as well.

At its best, MeadowWood’s current mower can cut grass down to 2.5 inches.

That might not sound high, but it can frustrate golfers.

It’s harder to shoot out of higher and thicker grass. Landing in the rough at MeadowWood can cost golfers a few strokes, and McPhilomy said players sometimes complain.

“We’re having to send the mower we have now out four times a week just to kind of appease the customers,” McPhilomy said, adding that the new mower might be able to mow the grass down to an inch. “Golfers can be kind of fickle, very picky in course conditions.”

A thicker rough also means more lost golf balls. When it arrives, the new mower should help with that.

“They’re losing balls when they’re a foot off the fairway,” McPhilomy said. “That’s not really fair to the golfer when they get a good shot.”

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