Jacobsen, a Textron Inc. company and a leading manufacturers of turf maintenance equipment with headquarters here celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2011, says the company in a news release.
Founded by Danish immigrant Knud Jacobsen and his son, Oscar, innovation began from day one when they introduced the Four Acre Mower so named because, powered by an internal combustion engine, it could mow four acres of lawn in a single day. It cost $275, a relatively large sum at the time, indicating the size and complexity of the machine. It was designed specifically for use in parks, cemeteries, on play grounds, golf courses and large estates with 75 built in that first year.
Not long after in 1923, Jacobsen again made history with the introduction of the first cast aluminium greens mower; this was able to cut fine turf and bent-grass greens without damaging the meticulously-conditioned surfaces.
Mower production gave way to manufacturing equipment for military use in World War II. Deserving a special mention was the small, 22-lb. backpack generator set for use by paratroopers in radio transmission. The company subsequently received Army and Navy “E” awards for meritorious service in wartime production.
In 1955 Jacobsen mowers maintained the grounds at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair and in 1962, the Chief, all-purpose compact tractor was introduced.
The late 1960s and early 1970s saw Jacobsen really establish its golf credentials with the introduction in 1968 of the first riding greens mower – the Greens King … which quickly became the standard for the turf maintenance industry. Launched in 1971, the F-20 was the world’s largest golf course mower – a 78-hp tractor pulling nine cutting reels, cutting a 19.7 ft. swath and capable of mowing 12.35 acres per hour.
1986 witnessed the development and introduction of the Turf Groomer, one of the most significant advances in greens maintenance. Invented by superintendent Larry Lloyd it allowed green speed to be increased without lowering the height of cut.
Another industry first came in 1989 with the introduction of the lightweight 5-gang LF-100 mower, specifically designed from the ground up to be as light as possible, providing less compaction and healthier turf.
The company expanded dramatically in 1998 with the acquisition of Ransomes, a British firm with a 200 year history manufacturing agriculture and turf maintenance tractors, mowers and accessories. This brought many new products and brands to the Jacobsen name, including Cushman trucks and Ryan aerators.
The revolutionary MAGSystem was introduced in 2004. This breakthrough technology used magnets to secure bed knives in position, saving technicians time and improving the quality of cut.
In 2007, the world’s first hybrid walking greens mower, the Jacobsen Eclipse 100 series was launched. This utilized a small petrol engine linked to a generator to provide electric drive for traction and mowing.
This was followed in 2010 by the larger riding version, the Eclipse 322, a truly revolutionary hybrid mower, which dispenses with the need for a hydraulic system to power the traction, reel lift and spin the reels. Superintendents around the world are praising the Eclipse 322 for its fuel savings, cost reductions and green credentials.
“Over the past 90 years Jacobsen’s superior engineering has resulted in many ‘firsts’ in our industry,” said Dan Wilkinson, president of Jacobsen. “The first greens mower, the first riding greens mower, the first lightweight fairway mower, the first turf groomer, the first electric riding greens mower, the first electric walking greens mower and the first magnetic bed knife – all these revolutionary firsts are Jacobsen innovations.
“Since the day our founder, Knud Jacobsen, demonstrated his Four Acre Mower, we have pioneered improvements in cutting diameter, mower weight, turning capabilities, maintenance time savings and quality of cut. As a result, Jacobsen equipment has been trusted to cut some of the finest golf courses, sports fields and other formal turf areas across the United States and the world.
“We are excited and delighted to celebrate this milestone anniversary and look forward to introducing many more firsts for the industry in the future.”