“Reggie” the Robotic Mower Cuts Greens, Costs at Perry Park
By Jon Rizzi
This fall, Perry Park Country Club in Larkspur enlisted the services of a nimble, 640-pound greens specialist named Reggie. The Cleveland native had so impressed Perry Park Course Superintendent Justin Daigle during their initial encounter at the 2015 Golf Industry Show in San Antonio that Daigle finally convinced the club to bring the Reggie aboard—a decision Daigle, his staff and members of the club have not regretted.
“Reggie” is actually the nickname Daigle’s crew gave to the Cub Cadet RG3 robotic mowing machine. Backed by more than $30 million in research and development, the $45,000 product features 14 blades, three rollers and enough artificial intelligence to master the nuances of each green and continually compensate to improve mowing patterns. Independent odometers on each side account for sloped surfaces and a front-mounted radar detects objects in its path, slowing or stopping it as the situation dictates.
The RG3 arrived at Perry Park late this summer. After setup and programming, purer rolls on the greens soon followed. In addition to not needing to be rolled after they’ve been mowed, the greens no longer require double-cutting, because the RG3’s blade-spin produces 30 percent more clipping yield than traditional walk mowers at the same height. Perry Park soon committed to robotic mowing of all putting surfaces, becoming the only course in Colorado—and one of only three in the country—to do so. While Daigle initially was concerned about employee reaction, he reports his “staff has been incredibly receptive to the technology, as it helps them provide a better product with less effort.”
To Daigle’s point, the 26 minutes the staff previously spent walk-mowing each green can now be used to tackle hand-raking bunkers, string-trimming heads, cleaning up debris, repairing ball marks, filling divots and executing other maintenance tasks previously performed as golfers arrived to play. “We’re getting things done in a third of the time,” Daigle says. “And you can’t put a price on a quiet golf experience.”
What he can put a price on is the money saved over the course of Reggie’s five-year lease. Daigle calculated a two-person reduction in hard-to-retain seasonal laborers zeroes out the cost. Plus, the four sealed lead-acid batteries that power the electric RG3 save an estimated $2,500 annually in gas and oil—with the added benefit of keeping the air around the course cleaner and the greens free of leak damage.
With improvements to its course and coffers, Perry Park has also embarked on an expansion of its clubhouse—the construction of which will presumably not involve robots.