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Another decade with Toro

Another decade with Toro: Trust, support and understanding, three vital qualities for a successful relationship, and in the case of Royal Dornoch, Toro and Reesink, it’s a combination that has worked exceedingly well for 25 years. Now it’s set to last a lot longer too as the club signs an exclusive supplier agreement for another ten years.

In an uncertain climate, one thing general manager Neil Hampton at Royal Dornoch in Scotland knows with certainty in choosing Toro again, is that quality and consistency will continue, which for a Championship course is non-negotiable. He says: “Regardless of what is going on in the world, one thing that has remained the same for 400 years is our dedication to providing our members and players with golfing excellence.

Another decade with Toro

Another decade with Toro

“Toro is tried and tested on the remote links landscape here and we see no reason to change that especially when Toro’s dedication to innovation and technology stills leads the way.”

Neil refers specifically to the four Toro Greensmaster eTriFlex 3370 electric greens mowers included in the club’s latest order: “As a club it’s very important for us to be as green as we can as often as we can. The team tried the electric greens mowers in a demo and were unanimously impressed, plus you know with Toro that any new machine has been tested to the nth degree. There were absolutely no negatives in choosing these electric machines to take over the important frontline mowing on our greens.”

Continuing the green theme in the rest of the order are four of the environmentally-friendly hybrid Reelmaster 5010-H fairway mowers and eight electric utility vehicles, the Workman GTXe with lithium-ion battery. Neil says: “Our greens and fairway mowers are used a lot and it is of the utmost importance that they perform to their best at all times. We’ve never noticed a difference between the environmentally-friendly machine option or diesel, apart from the obvious noise and fuel mess.

“We have a fantastic relationship with Reesink in that they understand how we work, what works best for us and what we want out of a deal. For example, we have a great system for the replacement and buy-back of our used machinery. Our used machines have a lot of life left in them and it’s only right that they go on doing a great job somewhere else.”

Heading into 2021 what does Neil see on the horizon? “Looking at the positives from 2020, the year Royal Dornoch got voted as Scotland’s Best Golf Course by the World Golf Awards, the break from play during growing season has given the course an unexpected rest, there’s been little to no wear and tear and it’s looking and playing wonderfully. The team had the chance to undertake jobs such as overseeding that you wouldn’t normally do in the peak season and it means we go into 2021 with the course in the ultimate shape.

“With international travel hopefully opening up earlier than expected perhaps in the spring, it means our 700 overseas members can resume their play here which will be fantastic. In the meantime, we’ve always been proud to be a course accessible for all. For 400 years our doors have been open to everyone and in 2021 that will be hugely important; we all know the huge benefits a round of golf can bring.”

And with Toro aiding the 19-strong greenkeeping team in tending the 36-hole course means it will provide the best possible environment, not just in terms of its beauty and playability, but its carbon footprint too. The future is decidedly green at Royal Dornoch!

To talk to someone about Toro’s electric machinery, packages and payment options available and how the Toro range would suit your course, call 01480 226800.

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Another golfer influx post lockdown

Another golfer influx post lockdown: Greenkeepers are being warned to prepare golf courses in advance of another likely influx of visitors once ‘lockdown two’ comes to an end.

Colin Mumford, technical manager at Bayer says that while it’s fantastic to see so many people enthusiastic to get back on the greens and fairways, greenkeepers need to be aware of the impact this could have on the course over the winter months.

Another golfer influx post lockdown

Another golfer influx post lockdown

“Traffic management is going to be key to avoid course compaction and wear and tear, particularly now the weather has turned. Wetter, softer, ground conditions are far more vulnerable,” he says

“The STRI trial plots that Bayer has been involved in show that courses that have been exposed to high levels of turf stress are suffering from large disease outbreaks this autumn.

“For example, basal rot is currently a problem,” says Colin. “It’s a strain of anthracnose, causing the base of the plant to turn black and come away from the roots, leading to death of the grass plants.

“The symptoms can still be seen in some places at the moment, as the infection thrives in cooler conditions, especially in short turf that is exposed to stress such as compaction or poor drainage.”

For the moment, many of the disease pressures are regional depending on the weather conditions – with central and eastern parts of the UK most affected currently – but if we continue to see damp, mild conditions, then we could see more widespread microdochium patch outbreaks, as the disease flourishes in these conditions.

“Greenkeepers need to stay vigilant for early signs of disease,” says Colin.

“Cultural controls such as brushing and switching can help keep the surface dry and really reduce the risk of Microdochium Patch establishing. It’s also key that courses have adequate nutrition as inappropriate levels can leave them susceptible to problems,” he says.

Colin recommends that if the environmental conditions are ideal for Microdochium Patch to occur, it is preferable to apply a preventative fungicide before the first visual signs of disease appear, or at the very least an early curative application at the initial sign of disease, to control it before it becomes established and causes long-term damage.

“Applying a preventative fungicide such as Dedicate®, will help offer successful control over Microdochium Patch as it includes two active ingredients with different modes of action which are proven to have high efficacy.

“Due to Dedicate® being a rapid acting solution, it gets on top of the disease before it becomes established and is also proven to provide improved plant health, consistency and greenkeeper satisfaction.

“There is no doubt this year has been a challenging one, but it’s important greenkeepers keep an eye out for any early signs of disease and ensure they are prepared for the reopening of courses. They could be very busy but it’s keeping on top of maintenance and minimising turf stress that’s crucial,” concludes Colin.

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GaNTIP programme reports another year of progress

GaNTIP programme reports another year of progress: New statistics show that the pitch improvement strategy instigated by the Premier League, The Football Association, the Government’s Football Foundation, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) continues to have a massive impact on football and cricket participation in England.

The organisations’ joint Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme (GaNTIP), which is funded by the Football Foundation and ECB, and led by the IOG, seeks to raise the quality of natural turf pitches to enhance player experience and increase capacity and participation levels.

GaNTIP programme reports another year of progress

And with over 2,890 pitches assessed by GaNTIP regional pitch advisors between April 2018 and March 2019, the results continue to impress, in terms of football, having:

  • Boosted pitch match capacity by 28% – from an average of 2.5 games per pitch to 3.2;
  • Reduced postponements by 24%;
  • Increased pitch quality levels – 83% of the 2,890 pitches assessed have improved; and
  • Engaged with 1,082 volunteers, of whom 192 have received training to boost knowledge levels and improve their pitch maintenance techniques. Indeed, the programme has engaged with volunteer time valued at over £3 million (if their time/value were calculated), based on minimum wage and average number of hours contributed (most volunteers work six-10 hours a week).

This, in turn, has enabled more than four million players to enjoy the game – calculated using 9 versus 9 pitches over a 40-week season; 18 players plus officials x 2,890 pitches and two games per week/weekend.

In order to increase pitch capacity, GaNTIP’s work with grassroots football has also involved the development of The Football Foundation Groundskeeping Community – a platform to provide expert advice to grounds staff – the development  of a digital pitch assessment tool and the implementation of online modules (via the IOG website), as well as ‘traditional’ attendance courses/modules to support Football Foundation funding criteria.

Interestingly, GaNTIP’s inspections reveal that 82% of the pitches tested had below standard levels of compaction. “A common issue throughout GaNTIP’s history,” says IOG director of technical & learning Jason Booth, who is responsible for GaNTIP.

In addition, in collaboration with the ECB to develop and initiate a structured approach for local grounds staff, GaNTIP has:

  • Serviced 38 County Cricket Boards and 38 County Grounds Associations/support groups, working with nine ECB Regional Club and Facilities managers to develop and deliver plans locally;
  • Revitalised the County Pitch Advisor programme by supporting more than 70 Advisors;
  • Developed a ‘toolbox’ to enable County Pitch Advisors and County Cricket Boards deliver a consistent approach to support;
  • Trained 233 delegates (via the IOG’s online and day attendance cricket courses); and
  • Assisted and developed the ECB’s new junior format for pitch sizes.

GaNTIP is monitored and supported by Sport England and the programme is now in year three (April 2019-March 2020) of Phase 2 (Phase 1 was 2014-2017) with two key account managers – Tom Rowley for football and Ian Mather-Brewster for cricket.

Jason Booth points out that the programme continues to increase awareness of the importance of the sustainability of natural turf pitches and hopes to invigorate more education and learning over the next 12 months.

“The programme is successfully achieving its aims of improving grassroots pitch quality and the education of the people who maintain those pitches, enabling the national governing bodies (NGBs) of football and cricket to provide clear direction on their grass pitch strategies,” he says.

“GaNTIP is making great strides and the programme and its RPAs are regarded as an integral part of the strategies of the NGBs currently within the programme. But the implications and benefits of GaNTIP could – and should – impact all grass sports and it is reassuring that other NGBs are monitoring our progress and showing great interest in what has been achieved and what GaNTIP could contribute to their sports.”

He adds: “Importantly, GaNTIP is also providing the grassroots and volunteer community with access to unrivalled training and education, which is proving indispensable in terms of pitch care. The programme is working hard with the NGBs and stakeholders to align volunteer training with the likes of coaching, because playing surfaces are equally as critical to participation levels.”

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