View Full Version : Mowing an abandoned golf course.

09-29-2010, 08:44 AM
Hello all!

I recently purchased an abandoned golf course which is in need of mowing very badly. The grass that is there is probably close to 2 feet long and while I do not wish to make the fairways "golf worthy" again, I would like to keep them respectable looking.

I am strongly considering purchasing a tractor/loader/backhoe w/mower not only for mowing but for general landscaping as well as some snow plowing and piling. I have been looking at machines in the 20-35hp range but I'm not sure that this will be enough power to accomplish all of this. I will probably only mow the course a couple times per year and I don't want to spend days upon days mowing.

Ideally, the tractor I buy will be fairly portable (towed behind a 3/4 ton truck) but have enough power to do some decent lifting/digging, as well as mow the grass at a good speed.

Any advice anybody with experience has would be greatly appreciated.



09-29-2010, 09:30 AM
An abandoned golf course!!??? :eek: What fun that would be. :thumb: :tiphat:

If you are only planning to 'mow' it once or twice a year then you want a rotary cutter (aka bush hog) rather than a mower. It would then be more like pasture. You might be able to sell hay from it if you like.

A TLB does sound like it would fit the bill for you. I'm thinking you would want at least 35hp for the size of area you are planning to maintain (how many acres is it?). The smaller units will get the job done but take longer. So in sizing your tractor consider how much time you will have to spend doing the chores. A bigger tractor means you can pull a bigger rotary cutter and get the job done in less time. A bigger tractor will also lift bigger items and carry a bigger load in general. A 25hp tractor could get the job done but would carry lighter loads and pull a smaller rotary cutter.
I'll think some more on this and see what others suggest. I'm thinking you'd want a 40hp tractor at this point. It would do all you want and easily be pulled by a 3/4 ton truck.

09-29-2010, 10:25 AM
I agree with Doc on tractor sizes. A reputable dealer could also give some insight on sizes of mowers and sizes of tractor. I have a Kubota M7040, rated @ 68hp, and a 6 foot 'bush-hog' type rotary mower. (The tractor could easily handle probably twice that mower, but it's what I inherited.) If I remember right, 5 acres takes me ~2-1/2 to 3 hours.
As for towing it, I tow it with a 1/2 ton Dodge, but I don't tow a lot, and it's pretty flat country around here. I believe a 3/4 ton would have no problems with it.

09-29-2010, 10:25 AM
OH YEA, welcome to the forum!!

09-29-2010, 12:08 PM
Welcome to the forum!

As asked, how many acres do you want to mow?

Being grass, you can't really bale it and give to larger animals (cows & horses) as it's too rich. Are goats and/or sheep something you've considered?

You didn't mention so I'll ask. Are you in an area that has any ordinances about grass height? If so, you may want to ask about a variance or something before you make you plans of only a couple times a year. If they want it managed, you may need to mow it more, making a bigger mower necessary.

09-29-2010, 01:27 PM
Hi Guys!

Thanks for the quick replies, and thanks for the welcome!

The area I'll be mowing is about 100 acres, give or take and is located just outside of North Bay, Ontario Canada. The property is rural, which is the biggest reason why the golf course failed...but that's a whole other story. I have done some talking to dealers around, most of them reccomended the brush hog style mower. I am, however, having a hard time getting a size recommendation from any dealer. I'm assuming it's mostly because most of the land up this way is uncleared bush...very few farms and not much large scale mowing goes on.

Any more input is much appreciated!


09-29-2010, 02:17 PM
That's a mighty big chunk of mowing...If your just going for keeping the grass down preventing the bush from taking over, why don't you go for a tractor with a siccle bar mower. We used to mow about that much hay back in the old times with a Farmall Super C and a 7ft siccle bar....

BTW...welcome to the forum....:wave:

09-29-2010, 05:25 PM
100 acres is a lot to mow. A bushhog type mower, also called a rotary cutter, would be the way to go, but honestly I think you will be spending DAYS cutting that amount of land unless you go way up in size and can mow 12 to 15 feet wide at a time!

09-29-2010, 09:02 PM
What size/ kind of tractor do you have available? What you need will depend on what hp your tractor is and if the pto will run it. For example, We have a big batwing 15' clipper . It folds up hydraulically as the sides fold up for going down the road. It takes a tractor larger than a 4020 to operate it. We use it with a JD7420 (over 100 hp).This year the clipper was never used. We are also in a severe drought. We have about 1000 acres of which about 1/2 is grazed year round.Anyway , the batwing is a pain unless you have just a few trees because ,well you can guess what can happen when you forget how wide it is... also we check the gearboxes each and every day of use and grease it just as often. It has a lot of moving parts. A bush hog about the width of the rear tractor tires should be about right to function well ,with out bogging down your tractor.If you ever wanted to cut it for hay you would need a special cutter.It sounds like you've got some good hay there.. Any cow/horse people up there.? Maybe they would cut it for the hay ???. Bordercollie

09-30-2010, 08:04 AM
On the brush hog mowers you want to figure the tractor can handle about 1' of cut for every 5HP at the PTO.
My 35HP machine has 29 PTO HP, so I pull a 6' mower. OTOH, it can handle up to about 9' of sickle bar unless I'm cutting into woody stuff (like dogwood), than I would stick to 6-7'.
and welcome to NTT!

09-30-2010, 08:54 AM
100 acres is a lot of mowing / bush hogging. Have you considered planting pines or some type of trees over some of the acres and let it grow? I have trails throughout my 50 acres and enjoy riding though the woods on an ATV much more than riding through open fields.
When I first got my land i was warned about clearing 'to much' of the land. I had a bull dozer in and was going hog wild. I had trails made and cleared a few acres of river frontage. The warning was to clear only what you can keep up with otherwise it will frustrate you trying to keep up with the mowing. You might be happier only clearing part of the 100 and letting some of it grow. Just a thought.

You mentioned trailering your tractor, so I'm wondering if you will be living on the 100 acres or is you home somewhere else?

09-30-2010, 09:37 AM
bordercollie has a good point. If there are any cattle or horses around, they use hay. A golf course should be pretty free of weeds. In this area, there are people in the "hay business" that will cut & bail for a fee (per bail), OR for about 1/2 of the crop. Might be you could sell the hay to one of them to keep the grass up for ya? Or if you want to mess with it, have it cut & bailed 'on halfs', then sell the rest.

09-30-2010, 11:52 AM
I agree with redneck that bordercollie's idea is probably the best.

It sounds like you've got some good hay there.. Any cow/horse people up there.? Maybe they would cut it for the hay ???. Bordercollie

I understand this might derail your TLB buying justification, so be sure to mention all the heavy stuff you wanted to do with the loader and backhoe to justify that purchase. Otherwise it seems to me that having someone else mow it for the hay would sure save you a whole lot of time & aggravation.

09-30-2010, 12:41 PM
Let's kick this baling and feeding to animals a bit more. Knowing his region and even better, what kind of grass is being grown could make a big difference.

We would only give the cows and horses lawn grasses in very small amounts.

E.g. Fescue, which is a common grass in our region is considered toxic to cows.

An excerpt from a nearby university about fescue. Bolding is mine
Source: http://www.caf.wvu.edu/~forage/tallfesc.htm

Tall Fescue Endophyte

About 80 percent of the tall fescue in West Virginia is infected with a fungus called an "endophyte" (Acremonium coenophialum). An endophyte is a fungus that grows inside another plant, without causing any apparent harm to the host plant and in some cases providing benefits to the host. Tall fescue appears to benefit from the presence of this endophyte. The endophyte produces chemicals called "alkaloids" which protect the tall fescue from insects and nematodes, making the plants more tolerant to marginal soil environments and harsh management conditions. Some of these alkaloids cause poor animal performance and health when consumed at too high a level. The complex of poor animal performance and health problems is called "fescue toxicosis." The main effect of endophyte alkaloids on cattle appears to be on heat regulation and feed intake. The alkaloids can cause abortions and reduced milk production in mares that consume infected tall fescue during pregnancy.

The alkaloid ergovaline causes the constriction of blood vessels in animals. When cattle are in a warm environment, their main way of losing heat is to increase the blood flow through capillaries under the skin. This carries heat from the inner part of the body to the surface where the heat is lost to the air. However, if an animal consumes enough alkaloid to constrict these capillaries, the volume of blood flow and the amount of heat moved to the body's surface is reduced. The animal then becomes more subject to heat stress during warm weather. During the heat of summer, cattle grazing endophyte-infected (E+) tall fescue spend a lot of time in the shade, in ponds, or in creeks trying to keep cool. Heat stress can cause reduced feed intake and decreased animal performance. Early embryonic death in cattle during hot weather also may be related to heat stress.

Knowing the life history of tall fescue and its endophyte helps us understand how to manage tall fescue to reduce fescue toxicosis. In cool, spring weather, the tall fescue plant is leafy and palatable. The leaf's growing point is at or below the soil surface. In the vegetative growth stage, the endophyte is located in the fescue's leaf sheath (the "stem" of the leaf below the flat blade). In May, reproductive tillers develop growing points that rise above the soil surface, pushing the seed head up through the leaf sheath. As the plant produces seed heads, the fungal endophyte moves up into the stem. As the seed head and seeds develop, the endophyte invades the new seed. When the seeds fall to the ground and germinate, the endophyte in the seed infects the new plant, continuing the cycle. It appears that the only way the tall fescue endophyte infects a plant is through the seeds from infected plants becoming new infected plants.

E+ tall fescue can become a serious weed in pastures since infected plants are less palatable than other forages. This leads to livestock grazing the more palatable orchardgrass, bluegrass, and clover, leaving the infected fescue to grow and go to seed. Since infected seeds are vigorous and resistant to insects, nematodes, and drought, they can be very competitive. This allows tall fescue to rapidly invade a field.

09-30-2010, 09:30 PM
I have no idea of what kind of grass grows up there in Canada, but thought it would be worth considering selling for hay. It would have the potential of generating $$,especially with someone else doing the footwork. We just paid $6.00 a bale for square bales of Tifton 44 and that was a good price with this drought we're having. Our pastures look like they normally do in Feb. and here it is the end of Sept. Another concern for folks new to cattle is the presence of Johnson Grass or corn like grass. Just after a freeze or severe drought, it can produce prussic acid and can kill an animal. It looks delicious but it can be deadly. When the neighbors harvest their corn crop planted on us, the pickers will leave behind kernels that will sprout. These must be eaten by the cows before the first frost or else they have to be completely brown and about dried up to be safe. When all the corn blew over after Katrina, we had over 100 acres of corn coming up from the wasted kernels and got the cows out to graze before the frost came. Same goes with minerals for the cows. When they are on lush pastures and especially the nursing females sometimes should be given high mag minerals then there's milk fever where the calcium balance can become wild, causing possible death. On the grass though, if it is real coarse it wouldn't do for horses but cows can tolerate a tougher chew What I am thinking is that folks in the area and legitimate hay folks should know if the grass is safe or not . . I imagine our friend enjoys being out on his place and will enjoy mowing anyway. I was just suggesting an option that might save $$ and even provide some. Bordercollie

10-01-2010, 07:03 AM
Thank you to everybody for the replies.

The property that we have is a total of 243 acres, with half of that being a 9 hole golf course. The rest of the land is uncleared bush, complete with atv trails for hunting deer, small game, etc. It really is a paradise for the outdoor enthusiast!!

We really have no desire at this time to clear any of the remaining bush, as there PLENTY of ground already cleared to suit us. We are strongly considering selling our house in the city of North Bay (pop. 55000) and building a home out there, with a detached garage/workshop.

In terms of selling the grass for hay...there really is not much agriculture to speak of up here. It seems like the people that do have livestock have enough acreage to grow their own hay...? We have asked around a few places to try to see if somebody would be interested or if somebody knows somebody who would be interested and there has been pretty much NO interest whatsoever.

On a brighter note, I went an looked at a Massey Ferguson 1635 yesterday. Really good looking unit!!! 35hp and looks very capable of doing quite a bit of work. Anybody who knows anything about them or could recommend something similar...it would be appreciated.

Thanks to everybody!

10-01-2010, 07:35 AM
That sounds exciting. What other dealers do you have near there? Is it a diesel? I assume that up there it would have a block heater of some sort. Good luck with it. Bordercollie

10-01-2010, 09:06 AM
You would be best to determine what different makes are available in your area seeing as that area is not prime agricultural land, some of the big AG makes may not be near by. A word of advice....some tractor dealers like to under sell a tractor knowing you'll be back in a couple of years to trade for something a little bigger. If you're over sold, you're not likely to want to trade down in a few years time 'cause the machine does everything you expect it to do....been there...done that.

10-01-2010, 01:05 PM
Buy a 100hp tractor and the biggest batwing mower you can afford. There is no way you want to mow 100 acres in a 35hp machine - unless you have nothing else to do.

Try and find a nice used high HP machine just for mowing and then get a smaller machine for the other stuff you will need to do.

Also, what are you going to do about snow removal? My tractor gets as much use in the winter as it does in the summer and I never even thought about snow removal when I bought it. If I had, I would have bought a bigger machine.

10-02-2010, 09:41 AM
I'm assuming that the 9 fairways were cut from the bush that surrounds them. consequently I would imagine that the actual amount of mowing would be less than the area occupied by the 9 holes and given what I remember of the terrain in that area. I'm a Kubota bigot myself but I have looked at the Masseys at the local dealer and they are nice machines. BTW they are Asian manufacture and branded Massey as far as I know. Not a bad thing..just sayin'..

10-14-2010, 07:35 AM
Buy your own cows......

10-15-2010, 09:25 AM
Buy a 100hp tractor and the biggest batwing mower you can afford. There is no way you want to mow 100 acres in a 35hp machine - unless you have nothing else to do.

Try and find a nice used high HP machine just for mowing and then get a smaller machine for the other stuff you will need to do.

Also, what are you going to do about snow removal? My tractor gets as much use in the winter as it does in the summer and I never even thought about snow removal when I bought it. If I had, I would have bought a bigger machine.

I own a 90 HP Kubota 4x4 and a 15' Galvanized batwing mower, it will cut up to 2" sapplings. I owned 500 acres in Central Florida, 1/4 of which was mowable. I also bought 100 head of moowers (cows), they helped to keep the taxes and the mowing down.

06-28-2012, 10:36 AM
I'm new here but here is my 2 cents...

I've mowed about 50 acres with a 35 hp Farmall and a 6 ft brush hog and I found it wasn't too bad.

It took me about 2 days to complete the job but I found it to be relaxing work and I would spread it out over a few weekends so it wasn't bad.

A 35hp machine could easily handle more width. Bump up to a 7 or 8 foot mower and you could do 100 acres in a long weekend.

06-28-2012, 02:23 PM
Interesting Underhill. :thumb:
Thanks for the perspective from someone who had been there and done that.

Welcome to Net Tractor Talk. Our little internet tractor & RTV forums. I'm glad you found us.
Enjoy and post often.