Apprentice wins national award

An apprentice has received an award for golf greenkeeping.

David Stewart, who trains at Pershore College, won young greenkeeper of the year at The British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) third annual BIGGA Awards.

Mr Stewart, 23, is deputy head greenkeeper at Walmley Golf Club in Sutton Coldfield.

BIGGA chief executive officer Jim Croxton said: “2016 was an incredible year for David as he took on no less than four different roles at his club.

“He took it all in his stride and alongside that he managed to get out, volunteering at tournaments and providing excellent support for the Young Greenkeepers’ Committee.

“David also worked extremely hard to provide participation opportunities for our younger members within the Central England region.”

Each year, the awards recognise outstanding greenkeeping performances, with entries being received from courses all over the country.

Mr Stewart, who is now on a level 3 apprenticeship, said: “Going up on stage was so nerve wracking.

“I feel over the moon as there are so many up and coming good young greenkeepers.

“Just to be nominated was unbelievable and to actually win is incredible.

“To have this kind of recognition from your colleagues makes this a career defining moment.”

BIGGA Chairman Les Howkins, course manager at The Richmond in London, said: “Congratulations to all the worthy winners of this year’s BIGGA Awards.

“These talented greenkeepers have demonstrated outstanding commitment and ability, not just this year but throughout their careers, and so it is great that we have been able to honour them with these awards.

“All the finalists were fantastic and show how, at every level and across the country, there are passionate greenkeepers who are a credit to the association, the greenkeeping industry and to themselves.”

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Five year guarantee on Terra Rake tines

With immediate effect, all spring tines for new Wiedenmann Terra Rake purchases come with a five year breakage guarantee. One of Wiedenmann’s top selling machines, the Terra Rake recently introduced a folding frame which led to the development of the ‘double size’ 3.4 m and 4.6 m versions making a total of five in the range.

At speeds of up to 15 km/ hr these long foraging steel tines rip out thatch and bring clippings or embedded debris like leaves and twigs to the surface. Ideal for golf courses and large estate grounds the Terra Rake is often used in tandem with the Wiedenmann Super 500 and 600 3-in-1 mower collectors to provide an optimum rough management system

The tine guarantee is on the 1.7m, 2.3m, 3.4m and 4.6m models as well as the 1.7 m electric trailed version.

For more information visit www.wiedenmann.co.uk

John Deere expands Gator factory to meet demand

The first major expansion in 30 years at the John Deere Horicon Works factory in Horicon, Wisconsin, USA has resulted in a new 388,000ft2 facility for manufacturing the company’s popular Gator utility vehicles. The expansion has added about 80 new jobs – around 70 in the assembly area and 10 new salary positions – bringing the total workforce to 1100 employees during the peak season.

“The expansion is a huge boon for the community, employees and the factory,” said Horicon Works factory manager Steve Johnson. “Now we’ll put each utility vehicle on our assembly line and it will not come off until it is built exactly the way the dealer wants it, ready for shipment worldwide – it places everything under our control. We’ll be able to serve our dealers and customers better, improve the overall quality of the vehicles, and make our operations more efficient.”

Previously there were two different factory operations working on Gator utility vehicles. The expansion now brings both the assembly and shipping operations to Horicon Works. Production began at the new facility in December and the move is scheduled for completion by March 2017.

“This investment shows our employees that all their work and effort to make this a great business from a safety, quality, and delivery standpoint is great for them as well. They’ve really helped us earn this opportunity to grow the business,” Steve Johnson said.

Horicon Works dates back to 1911 when Deere bought the factory from Van Brunt Manufacturing, a maker of horse-drawn grain drills and other farm machinery. Original buildings at the site, located in downtown Horicon, were built in 1865. Over the past century, Horicon Works has manufactured a broad range of farm and recreational equipment, including bicycles and snowmobiles – the tagline ‘Nothing runs like a Deere’ originated with the snowmobile line in the early 1970s.

In 1963 Horicon built the first 110 lawn & garden tractor, signalling the company’s first move into the turf market worldwide, and eventually settled into the current mix of products. Today, in addition to the extensive Gator utility vehicle range, Horicon makes premium lawn tractors including the X300, X500 Select and X700 Ultimate Series, and a wide range of attachments such as snow blowers, rotary mower decks and blades.

Ten Toros for Royal Cromer

Having seen vast improvements in efficiency since the installation of a Toro Lynx control system four years ago, Royal Cromer Golf Club has now invested in ten Toro machines.

Royal Cromer was one of the first courses in the UK to fully upgrade to a state-of-the-art Toro Lynx control system and course manager Mark Heveran’s experience of it has been such a positive one he turned to Toro machinery when the need arose for some new equipment.

However, Mark says it was Toro’s impressive technological features that really clinched the deal. He says: “The advancement of technology in Toro’s on-board computer systems allows for greater variation in mowing. The speed of our Reelmaster 5510s’ reels can be adjusted according to moisture levels within the grass. This protects the cylinders, makes the mower more adaptable in drought conditions and results in a consistent finish.”

The club’s dedicated MultiPro 5800-D sprayer boasts an on-board computer, which Mark says is “undoubtedly the best piece of Toro equipment” he’s bought. With the on-board computer the operator has more control over the application rate and, from the moment you programme the machine, the same spray rate is maintained. This isn’t even altered by speeding up or slowing down the machine, providing you stay within the parameters of the nozzles.

“Our sprayer also has the optional shrouded boom, a cover that surrounds the spraying nozzles to deflect and protect the flow of spray from the wind which, being a windswept cliff top course on the North Norfolk coast, is a major design advantage for us. This addition gives us 75 percent more opportunities to spray, which is a tremendous improvement and makes our annual chemical and nutrient programme far more achievable.”

The club’s two Workman GTX utility vehicles have become firm favourites for Mark, thanks to their quiet operation and long battery life. “The GTX’s are great,” he says. “They’re really quiet so when the greenkeeping team are out and about in them, players aren’t disturbed by noise. And the longevity of the batteries in a day is superb; you rarely have to recharge them, but when you do it is a quick job as you don’t have to refill them individually, they automatically fill up in one go.”

The Toro equipment has been in use for a full season at Royal Cromer and Mark reports positive feedback: “The sidewinder Reelmaster 3100 comes out on top for its after-cut finish quality on the semi-rough, it really is top-end and the machine’s maneuverability around hazards is what we’re looking for. The lads in my team love the machines as they all have good suspension and provide a very comfortable operator experience. The reliability is superb and, as we’ve had no real problems with them, we will consider investing in Toro again in the future.”

Established in 1888, Royal Cromer boasts sweeping sea views and is in the top 100 courses in the country, with ambitions to rank higher. Mark concludes: “Royal Cromer is an old traditional club with a forward thinking attitude, and we are always striving to drive the course forward to be one of the best. We chose Toro because it is high-tech equipment, by using it we believe we can enhance member and visitor experience and gain a firm foothold in the top 100 courses in the UK, raising the club to be among the elite in the country.”

Town Council Boasts An All-Red Toro Shed

Only three years ago operations manager Kevin Matthews vowed to turn St Neots Town Council’s existing fleet of machinery Toro red, following the purchase of a CT2120, which impressed with its “superb” quality of cut. In August Kevin accomplished just that with the purchase of two durable Groundsmaster 3400 out-front rotary mowers.

The Council, whose grounds team of nine maintains a range of sites in Cambridgeshire, decided to invest in new machines when assigned more grounds to cover. Kevin says: “We needed something robust and the Toro GM3400 ticks all the boxes”.

Kevin was convinced it would be the machine for the job after attending an onsite demonstration at Reesink Turfcare: “Seeing the GM3400 up close and having Danny Lake [Toro distributor Reesink Turfcare rep] show what it can do made us realise just how brilliant it is. Reesink also managed to loan us a machine while our order was processed, which was an unexpected bonus!”

For Kevin, the main benefits of the machines include low running costs, reliability, ease of operation, ease of maintenance, and operator’s comfort. He says: “The machine is designed with the operator in mind, meaning my employees can be out all day and not suffer from fatigue.”

He goes on to say that with the GM3400s there’s “no need to worry about breakdowns because the reliability and build quality of these machines are second-to-none. Combine this with the back-up service from Reesink and you’ve got a world-leading formula.”

The GM3400s will primarily be used for Cambridgeshire County Council’s roadside verges, where Kevin believes the machines will enable him to do the job efficiently and keep the grass looking beautiful.

When speaking of the CT2120, the first ever piece of Toro kit purchased by St Neots in 2013, Kevin describes the durability and performance of the machine as “superb”. ”One of the reasons we chose this machine was because it’s light enough to be transported by trailer to different sites,” says Kevin.

This time round Kevin opted for the GM3400 because it’s as easy to operate as the CT2120, but it’s also a road-legal machine. He says: “The GM3400 came with a road-legal pack that includes lights and indicators, amongst other things. With this road pack the GM3400s are not far from being cars, and I can relax knowing my employees are safe.”

Before they owned Toro machinery, Kevin and his team were making do with competitor brand machines that weren’t right for the job and having to cut more frequently to compensate. Now, with a Toro fleet tailored to its needs, the Council has improved its cutting programme and reduced running costs too.

All of this has transformed the work lives of the grounds team at St Neots Town Council and, thanks to their reliability and performance, Kevin feels certain he will continue to invest in Toro machines exclusively.

Toro Keeps London Stadium In Top Condition

London Stadium 185, the company in charge of managing the Stadium at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, has welcomed four new Toro machines to its fleet, as the much-loved venue permanently reopens.

A subsidiary of VINCI Stadium, the operating company saw the new Toros delivered in early June this year; around the same time London Stadium officially re-opened.

Formerly known as the Olympic Stadium, the venue was temporarily open to the public during the summer of 2015, hosting major sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup and the Diamond League Meeting. This year, the arena has been transformed into a multi-use venue, becoming the new home of West Ham United FC and the National Competition Centre for athletics in the UK.

With lots of activity going on, Greg Bolton, Head Groundsman at London Stadium 185, says he’s been busy putting his new Toro Reelmaster 3100 mower, Multi Pro 1750 sprayer, ProCore 648 aerator and Workman GTX utility vehicle to good use.

Working around what’s been a big transitional phase at the Stadium, Greg and his team of three groundsmen have two grass pitches to maintain; a community pitch with a running track outside the stadium and the main pitch inside the stadium.

“When I joined the company it was still a building site and the pitches weren’t able to be seeded until June, after we’d hosted a big AC/DC concert,” says Greg, who joined London Stadium 185 in April this year.

“At the end of July we then hosted the London Anniversary Games, which saw the likes of Usain Bolt training here in preparation for the Rio Olympic Games 2016. And then we had West Ham’s UEFA Europa League qualifying round in August. So there’s been plenty to prepare for!” he adds.

Of all the machines, Greg says the Multi Pro has particularly impressed him: “It’s easy to use, speedy to spray and offers fantastic flexibility. We use it for spraying a multitude of chemicals and there have been no issues with it blocking up,” he notes.

“The ProCore is also great and a machine that I’ve actually used before in previous roles,” adds Greg, whose groundsman career has seen him work at Fulham Football Club’s Craven Cottage and Reading Football Club’s Madejski Stadium. “I’ve used the ProCore at the last three venues I’ve worked at. It’s a simple-to-use machine that’s equally effective for spot areas and the entire pitch.”

Being happy with the Toro ProCore in the past, Greg not only opted for the same machine again when joining the London Stadium 185, but decided to add an additional three Toros to his existing fleet too.

“The deputy head groundman and I chose the new machines. We looked at other brands, but agreed Toro was the best.

“We’re very happy in our decision, not just because we’ve had great machine performance, but also because of the customer support we’ve experienced. Danny Lake [Toro grounds sales manager at Reesink Turfcare] and the guys in the workshop have been fantastic, with communication and their efficiency in getting back to me being brilliant,” he concludes.

As the only venue in the UK able to host both world class football and athletics events, Greg and his team have a big job on their hands, but one that’s been made both quicker and easier with the help of Toro.

Big savings on Polaris

Polaris has announced a range of major savings to be had for a limited period. Customers buying the new Polaris Sportsman 570, the latest version of the world’s best-selling ATV, can save as much as £1000.00. on the Recommended Retail Price. Anyone looking for extra creature comforts with the Polaris Mid-Size Ranger can save over £500 on the price of a half cab. The Sportsman 570 boasts a powerful 44hp engine, loads of storage space and with the different models there’s the choice of Electronic Power Steering, Active Descent Control and a full-size version to legally carry two people.

Right now the Sportsman 570 can be bought for £5,263 which means a saving of over £730, whilst members of the NFU, NFUS and UFU enjoy an additional 5% discount, for a price of only £4,999 and a saving of nearly £1000.00. There are offers available on the other models as well.

For those of you looking for the comfort of a HALF CAB for the Polaris Mid-Size Ranger Side by Side you can save over £500. For just £499 you get the Half Cab, a fixed glass windscreen, Pro-Fit sport roof, poly rear panel, a wiper kit and battery connection kit. There’s also the option of a tip out windscreen upgrade in place of the fixed windscreen for just £276. All the prices quoted are excluding VAT and terms and conditions do apply. These are some great savings but they won’t be around for long:

The offers run from 1st February to 31st March 2017 before reverting to full prices. Contact your nearest Polaris dealer for full details.

Greetham Valley wins top Environmental Award!

Environmental Golf Course of the Year at the prestigious national Golf Environment Awards ceremonial dinner in Harrogate last week, hosted by the Sports Turf Research Institute.
To be considered for the finals, Golf Clubs are shortlisted for a site visit, with four nominees from each category selected to attend the awards dinner. The categories are: Environmental Golf Course of the Year, Conservation Greenkeeper of the Year and Outstanding Environmental Project of the Year. Long term sponsors of the awards include Farmura Environmental, Ransomes Jacobsen, Syngenta, Tillers Turf, Wiedenmann and BIGGA.

Greetham Valley was awed to be a joint finalist in their category with none other than Carnoustie Golf Links, The Carrick on Loch Lomond and Whitley Bay Golf Club. The Environmental Golf Course of the Year award recognises venues which demonstrate environmental best practice, enhancing their own local ecology and improving habitats whilst maintaining the very best in playing surfaces. All the finalist venues were showcased on the evening and the outstanding efforts all had made were clear.

Adi Porter, Greetham Valley’s Course Manager, said “We knew we had done very well to be in the final but really thought we didn’t stand a chance, with such prestigious golf courses, known for their excellent ecological projects, being strong contenders. The owners, Robert and Dee Hinch and I were just thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere of the ceremonial awards dinner in exalted company – when we were announced as the winners of the main award of the evening, we were totally shocked and overwhelmed! And what we greatly appreciated were the genuine congratulations from everyone at the ceremony, many of whom seemed as delighted for our outstanding achievement as we were!” Robert and Dee were keen to pay tribute to the whole team at Greetham Valley, saying “We all work together to tackle and achieve environmental best practice and we are absolutely delighted to have this recognised at such a prestigious awards ceremony.”

STRI ecology consultant, Sophie Vukelic, said: “For 22 years the Golf Environment Awards has highlighted the biodiversity value of golf courses around the UK, rewarding the people who manage the land as sustainably as possible, for both golf and wildlife. Greetham Valley greatly impressed the judges with their whole team’s initiatives in creating an environmentally sound, sustainable golf resort, implementing innovative techniques in their determination to promote ecological best practice throughout the venue. Huge congratulations to the winners and finalists of this year’s awards, you truly are the future of golf course management.”

Aiming to reduce the carbon footprint and increase biodiversity across Greetham Valley, staff in all departments – greenkeeping, kitchen, housekeeping, administration, F&B, maintenance – all play their part in numerous ‘eco-projects’ as does the long term sustainability investment by the Hinch family.

Over the years, Course Manager Adi Porter has implemented many of the ecological initiatives which helped win the award, including: greatly reducing chemical usage by introducing an integrated management programme for the control of pests, disease and weeds using holistic techniques, creating an improved habitat for wildlife; becoming part of Operation Pollinator – “the golf industry’s chance to save UK bees” – creating wildflower meadows and a solitary bee tower; erecting a series of nesting boxes for birds and bats; constructing a reed bed and 17 new ponds, populated with fish, which have attracted a diversity of flora and fauna; building wildlife-friendly drystone and log walls and a bug hotel for hibernation and shelter; erecting birdfeeders, feeding towers and bird hides, creating a floating bird island.

Adi adds “One of the most dramatic chemical usage decrease has been that of nitrogen – quantities from tee to green have more than halved. On the greens we were using 250kg per hectare/per year and over the past 8-10 years this has been just 100 kg hectare/year. On the fairways, a granular nitrogen feed treating 30 hectares at a cost of £12k per annum was the norm, now a liquid feed is applied more accurately to only 18 hectares – with reduced nitrogen inputs the cost is now £6k per year. The result is virtually zero nitrogen leaching through the soil profile and into the water courses, without compromising on course presentation quality.

Moisture levels in the greens are carefully and accurately monitored and irrigation applied in just sufficient quantities to keep the greens alive. This has reduced not only water usage but also the amount of electricity used to drive the irrigation pumps – and much of the irrigation water comes from grey water – rain run-off from our buildings.

We have created more areas of natural grassland (now approximately 20 hectares) for wildlife to thrive. This has also saved us one day per week of cutting rough = 40 litres of fuel per week saving, for approx. 24 weeks, total 192 man hours + 1120 litres of fuel. In addition, we used to mow both sides of the stream banks, all the way along its length. We now leave many areas long and cut just once annually, this has helped increase our water vole population.”

Some of the Hinch family’s long term environmental investments include the installation of two huge biomass boilers, powered by woodchip, which provide heat and hot water for most of the complex. Since 1990 over 26,000 trees have been planted across the estate; all felled trees are re-used, by chipping the brash for pathways, splitting logs for the woodburners in the Clubhouse and the holiday cottage; some chippings feed the biomass boilers. In addition, a 40kwh solar panel power system has been installed and LED lighting is fitted throughout the complex. Rainwater is recycled into the irrigation system, more sustainable and efficient sanitary equipment has been installed in public areas, whilst the machinery wash-down system is an environmentally sealed recycling loop. The resort’s holiday Lodges were purchased from a company which sources the timber from sustainable Norwegian forests.

Across the complex, cleaning and housekeeping supplies are eco-friendly; vegetable food waste from the kitchen is composted along with grass cuttings and leaves from the golf courses and grounds and the wood chip ash from the boilers – this rich crumbly compost is then used by the greenkeepers across the estate; two thirds of rubbish produced is recycled including glass, plastic and paper, as is engine oil from the workshop, fryer oil from the kitchen and ink cartridges and paper from the offices. Truly a team effort in sustainability and the Environmental Golf Course of the Year award is very well deserved!

Classen springs forward

Schiller Groundscare launches into 2017 with an impressive line-up of Classen machinery for spring grass and turfcare and an expanding dealer network.

“Classen has gone from strength to strength in growing the market with quality equipment,” says David Goose, Schiller’s Director of Commercial Sales, “and we’re committed to the coming season with new machines that have been making a real impact since their launch at the Saltex show. Following hard upon the introduction of the latest Classen Overseeders, Sod Cutters and Turf Rake, the Classen TA18 steerable aerator attracted a great deal of interest and substantial orders going into the New Year.”

Completing the line-up for spring grass treatment, the new TA18 is a compact, steerable aerator that is exceptionally easy to manoeuvre and transport. A width of just 69cm (27.2”) makes it the most compact aerator in its class. Even weight distribution provides stability on slopes and excellent coring ability in tough soils. Five banks of tine wheels produce faster results and overall the Classen TA18 is a highly productive machine for grounsdmen and landscapers and is ideal for hire outlets.

Classen machines have a reputation that lives up to their edict of ‘designed to use – built to last’ and there’s no doubt the build quality is exceptional. The Classen Sod Cutter is a solid, dependable piece of kit that lays claim to being the most compact, manoeuvrable and fastest at lifting turf whilst delivering a cleaner cut. The hydrostatic drive pushes the machine along at up to 4.7mph.

It will soon be time for scarifying to remove the moss and thatch that prevent rainwater getting to grass roots and to help promote growth of fresh, healthy sward. The Classen Turf Rake is much favoured by contractors and hire operators as a versatile and portable dethatcher with flail blades that adjust to five different heights and a folding handle for easy transportation.

On the Classen Turf Overseeders, the front seed drop ensures follow-up soil coverage for better seed germination, offering an easy and covenient way to seed a new lawn, or overseed an existing lawn.

“The Classen range offers the turf professional, groundsman and greenkeepers the complete year-round maintenance system,” says David Goose, “and it’s backed by our
commitment to our dealers and continued innovation to meet customer needs.” Each Classen machine comes with a two-year professional warranty.

Small Update Brings Big Savings To Fulwell GC

Bailoy has been working with Fulwell Golf Club in Twickenham, helping them to achieve better performance from their GTI PC irrigation system installed in 2008. Updating the Bailoy software at the club has seen the irrigation run time more than halved.

Greg Evans, head of golf course development for Fulwell GC, says: “When I got involved with Fulwell I looked at the greens set up and was worried about the full circle arcs,” he says. “Due to the club wanting to water the surrounds, the greens sprinklers were switched from part-circle to full-circle a few years ago and with permission from the management board, irrigation specialist Lakes and Greens was commissioned to upgrade the greens system installing back-to-back greens and surrounds sprinklers.”

Before work commenced, Bailoy was asked to make an appraisal of the course cable and the GTI PC system to confirm that an update would achieve the club’s immediate aims. The club also wanted to be sure that it was investing in a system that could manage future upgrades.

The site cable was good quality, but because new stations and sprinklers had been added, moved and replaced since the system’s installation without the GTI database software being updated, the system was not performing to the best of its ability. Bailoy advised on the importance of having the data in the GTI software accurately reflecting the hardware installed on-site and the performance and time saving benefits it would bring.

The irrigation team then collected site data to input into the GTI software, concentrating first on the greens and surrounds, entering data from the new back-to-back sprinklers installed by Lakes and Greens. This immediately made a significant difference to the operation of the system, especially the run times. Greg confirms this by saying: “A typical 2mm programme took four hours to complete pre-update, but the changes to the database means this has reduced to 1.5 hours.”

Since starting the process, Fulwell has continued auditing the whole system. Sean Eckett the club’s irrigation technician has been checking sprinklers are in the right formation and data in the GTI software matches. He found there was a huge discrepancy between what was out in the field and what’s recorded in the database. “It is very rewarding to look at where the irrigation system is now compared to where it was,” he says. “On certain areas of the golf course the database was extremely out of sync with what it was in the field, which would have massively affected run times and efficiency.”

Based on the success of the work and audit, Greg, Sean and head greenkeeper Sam Evans have been happy with the performance of the system in 2016. Sam says: “To have a reliable system both on the computer and out in the field means we can be much more critical and accurate with how we irrigate the golf course. It is a time-consuming process and at times difficult, but with Sean’s hard work and Bailoy’s input we now have an accurate representation and we are working towards knowing every detail out on the golf course, making the management and maintenance far easier and resulting in big time savings.”

Greg, who consults for golf clubs across UK and Ireland, concludes by saying: “I work as an independent consultant and this is the first time I’ve worked closely with the Bailoy system. I like it, the system is easy to use and very effective. They are particularly good for those clubs opting for a retro fit installation, utilising the existing control cabling, decoders, solenoids and sprinklers as they do. Plus the backup support is fantastic.”