The Dreaded After Cut Appearance Issues in Fairways What is the Problem?

The Dreaded After Cut Appearance Issues in Fairways What is the Problem?

I think we have all seen them and we have all come up with ways to minimize the issues and some have been very successful with changes to get them to go away. One of the issues are that it can be many different things and here is one of them that we noticed a few weeks ago. Unfortunately this fix is for the John Deere QA5 reels and while it maybe an issue with other cutting units from other equipment manufacturers as well this one covers the QA5.

Our issue became glaring on the first cut of over seed this year. We raised heights to .600 and dry cut on the first time out. Prior to over seed we ground all the reels, checked cone, leveled to less than .005, put relief on the reels, check roller runout, etc. We do all these things as our beginning of season check on everything and fix issues where we see them. We ultimately want to have a cutting units that is ready for a season of mowing knowing that everything is within our tolerances. Then BOOM we have them all set-up perfectly and this shows up!

When your training your guys to really make sure that we are dialing our tolerances in and they put in all that effort just to see this….. as a leader this is discouraging. However, what you can do is go back in the shop and try to figure out what is going on and how to resolve it. Unfortunately no matter how sharp the reels are, how accurate the set-up is, this is not the end product we are looking for and we can’t find this acceptable. On Bermuda grass we found that while you can faintly see the lines they are nothing like this.

So we went back to the shop and put a reel on the leveling table thinking what could possibly cause this. We were mowing with 3 fairway mowers and so if one machine were doing this then ok we missed something on set-up but no, all 3 were doing exactly the same thing.

So we noticed that the issues are on the ends and we know the cutting units are perfectly square so it can’t be that. Then it hit me. The model before the QA5 we never had these lines and those HOC brackets were much thinner than the current one. The width of our marks were the width of about 2 brackets so we measured the height of the bracket and found that the rear bracket starts dragging the grass at .500 and the front bracket around .375 which made sense because we see it in Bermuda very slightly during the summer but we are mowing at .375 – .400 so the front bracket would drag at those heights but not both. Then you take into consideration the overlap of the reel behind it and you have those dragging through the grass as well.


So my thinking was we need to get the brackets up higher. So I called Martin at GOLFCO and we discussed adding 2.5″ rollers to both the front and the rear and shortening the rear rollers to prevent some of the double overlap that occurs. Obviously when you are looking into fixing these types of things it can be costly decisions. However, I was fairly confident in my thinking that this was causing the issue. The good thing was a good friend of mine John Patterson was in town and ran my theory past him while he was visiting and he agreed as well. When spending $3000 for 10 rollers I think it is very important not only to really be sure about what you are doing but also understand the impact to the operation as we have 6 sets of QA5 reels between 4 fairway mowers and 2 spare sets. So the impact can be very significant when making this kind of call and that is “if” it works.

So it took about a week and we got the rollers in so I had the guys install them, level them, and then lets look at some measurements and this is what we found.


Adding the taller rollers gave us the room we needed to get the brackets up out of the grass. Now the big question was is it going to solve the issue. I will also say that the more cuts we got on the rye grass the less obvious the lines were and as we continue to drop the height the lines fade a bit but they are still there. So we had one fairway mower set-up with the 2.5″ rollers and the other with the standard 2″ rollers and here were the results.

The big thing here is not just solving the problem but understanding that even the best set-up reels can have after cut appearance issues and sometimes it’s not black and white what the issue is. We have to dig a little and figure things out. I mean this fix isn’t in the book. I am positive others have figured this out already but there are many out there where this may not be the case and unfortunately may not have thousands to try out theories. I mean what would happen if I was wrong? Could have cost the club thousands on something that didn’t work. If you are interested in buying these rollers I put a kit together on Turf Addict that you can purchase a set for your fairway mower and I hope this helps some that continue to fight this look with these cutting units a resolution that you can look into as well.

Purchase Roller Kit Here

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  1. Bobs Shop
    December 12, 16:20 Reply

    Might also be the dreaded 5410 issue everybody talks about but never solved

    • admin
      December 12, 16:26 Reply

      Could be Bob never looked at those cutting units for this issue but it certainly could be.

  2. Frank
    September 21, 19:57 Reply

    Both front and back u changed them to 2.5 ?

  3. Brad
    May 10, 16:54 Reply

    We have 3 inch golfco on front but left the 2 inch standards in rear and still have these lines I thought it was roller overlap.

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