Tag Archive for: Better

No better finish than a Dennis

No better finish than a Dennis: Jay Berkhauer, Head Groundsman for Dartford FC, says that the Dennis G860 cylinder mower is hugely versatile and offers an unrivalled finish.

Jay, who is employed by Jordans Sports Ground Solutions, has been working at Dartford FC’s Princes Park Stadium for three seasons. As an experienced grounds manager, Jay has worked on many sports surfaces including football, rugby and cricket.

No better finish than a Dennis

No better finish than a Dennis

It’s safe to say that he knows his mowers and there’s one that he has used regularly throughout his career.

“I first started using Dennis G860’s when I worked at Crystal Palace FC – and I absolutely love them,” he said. “From all the mowers I have used in my career I am of the opinion that you just can’t get a better finish than a Dennis.”

Therefore, when Jay started working for Jordans Sports Grounds Solutions, he was pleased to be given a Dennis G860 to use at Dartford FC: “Everyone who works on the maintenance side for the company has a G860,” he added.

Relied upon at world class stadia and major tournaments, the Dennis G860 is one of the most renowned cylinder mowers in the grounds management industry. Lightweight at just 166kg it is incredibly easy to manoeuvre and comfortable to operate. The handlebar console houses the controls for the throttle, parking brake, roller drive and cutting cylinder drive.

The mower features a large diameter front roller with an adjustable scraper which has been designed for a precise height of cut control, giving an excellent finish on every occasion. The Dennis G860 also features an interchangeable cassette system to assist with a wide range of tasks such as including scarifying, verticutting, brushing, spiking, and slitting.

Jay claims that this versatility is one of the G860’s best features.

“We have the verticutting cassette, the brush and the cutting cylinder,” he said. “In the summer months when the grass needs thinning out, I’ll use the verticutting cassette. I’ll also use it during renovations, just to give it a thorough clean and to remove any thatch.

“In winter, I’ll use the brush cassette after a game to give the pitch a tidy-up and to remove any debris. If I used a small rotary mower to do this after a game, I would be doing it all night, so the brush has certainly helped me to save time.

“Then of course, we have the cutting cylinder which provides an excellent finish every time.

“For clubs at all levels, including grass roots level, there is no better machine,” continued Jay. “The G860 has everything you need in one mower. It is a 3-in-1 for me and therefore works out to be very cost-effective.

“It’s also very light and easy to operate. It never breaks down and reliability is so important for me.”

For further information or a no obligation demonstration, please contact Dennis 01332 824 777 or visit www.dennisuk.com

For more news, reviews and insightful views, you can follow Dennis on Twitter and Instagram @DennisMowers and like the company’s Facebook page – www.facebook.com/DennisMowersUK.You can also view the latest Dennis videos by visiting www.youtube.com/DennisMowers

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When 3 cylinders are better than 4

When 3 cylinders are better than 4: Specialist turf growers, County Turf, farm in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire with a fleet of 24 tractors. A strong relationship with local dealer Peacock & Binnington saw the company introduce a Fendt 211 to the fleet in 2020. The Fendt has since done over 3000 hours and has helped director Chris Medley reduce fuel costs and improve the efficiency of loading work.

“We run four-cylinder tractors for most of our general production work. I was advised that the three-cylinder Fendt would manage the work well whilst offering a significant fuel saving. It has been an eye-opener because we have reduced our fuel consumption by at least 25 percent and yet the tractor has performed admirably,” he explains.

When 3 cylinders are better than 4

When 3 cylinders are better than 4

There are five models in the 200 range: the 207, 208, 209, 210 and top of the range 211. Power outputs start at 79 horsepower and extend to 124 horsepower. All models are available as Power, Profi and Profi+ with AGCO’s three-cylinder 3.3 litre engine.

The latest model 211 benefits from a power boost called ‘Dynamic Performance’ which releases an additional ten horsepower on demand. The system detects when components such as the PTO, hydraulics, engine fan and air-con need more power, and then provides that added power through smart control. “If I had one criticism of our 211 it is that it is a little short of power for some applications. The new model may be an option for us in the future if the boost function provides the extra power that we need,” says Mr Medley.

The 69 plate 211 at County Turf has been used mostly for loading. With a Fendt loader on the front and pallet tines on the three-point linkage it has become a popular choice for loading work and Mr Medley suggests it is more useful than a telehandler. “It has very sensitive controls for loading work and the joystick is ergonomic to use, so operators prefer it to a telehandler. It also has the advantage of carrying at the front and rear so it can move more in a day.”

Being a light tractor, it is also easier to transport. The Fendt is regularly deployed to sports grounds where it loads fresh turf and moves sand. “When we install pitches, we need lighter machines to reduce any potential damage to the turf. The Fendt is perfect for this because it has sufficient power without the greater weight that four-cylinder tractors carry.”

The cab is typically Fendt. Quiet, comfortable, and ergonomic. It is spacious and more akin to the larger models in the range. The high seating position offers the operator better vision over the loader and gives an overall feeling of space. “The view from the Fendt is great for our operators when they are moving turf. Operators also enjoy the comfort, especially when they are using it for long shifts.”

The land used to grow turf is dry and coarse which makes establishment tricky at times, especially with the high winds experienced in the area. The 211 is regularly used for mowing and irrigation work but is also versatile enough to work with a harvester, loading lorries. “We can move the Fendt from one job to another really easily. It has enough power to pull mowers and transport irrigation equipment whilst also having the loading capability to move turf.”

Comfort has always been a distinguishing part of the Fendt brand and the 200 series is no exception. Despite being a compact machine with a turning circle of just 4.2 metres, the cabin feels every bit like that of one of the larger models. The seat offers excellent cushioning and support which will help those intending to do long stints behind the wheel. “Our operators really appreciate the Fendt for its comfort and prefer to use the 211 if they can.”

County Turf has a constant churn of tractors, choosing to replace each tractor in the fleet within three years to keep within the warranty period. With excellent support from Peacock & Binnington, Mr Medley is never left without a machine and servicing has been completed quickly and efficiently. “It is vital that we avoid downtime. The Fendt has not let us down in over 3000 hours, so we are really pleased with the reliability and the service we have had from P&B.”

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Better conditions for The Club at Gettysvue

Better conditions for The Club at Gettysvue: Like many courses built in the great golf boom of the mid to late 90s, the Club at Gettysvue in Knoxville, Tennessee, had a number of challenges – none more glaring than the condition of its bunkers. 

“Some things that should have been done during the original build were not done, in an effort to finish the project on time,” says course superintendent Jeff Dudych. “We always had a lot of water running into our bunkers, because they were not built to today’s standards. Bunker maintenance has been an ongoing issue for my entire 24-year tenure at Gettysvue. We invested some money on the bunkers ten years ago, but it wasn’t enough to fix the issues. We had bunkers that didn’t drain properly, a lot of contamination – we are on red clay here, and a few weeks after putting new sand in the bunkers it would be contaminated with clay.”

Better conditions for The Club at Gettysvue

Better conditions for The Club at Gettysvue

Two and a half years ago, the course was sold to three club industry veterans. “The new owners have been fantastic,” says Dudych. “They have said from the beginning they wanted to invest in the course and do things properly.”

Last year, Dudych formulated a plan to fix the course’s bunker issues. Given the nature of the soil under them, and the Tennessee climate – the course averages around fifty inches of rain a year – it was obvious that a proper liner was a high priority, and it didn’t take long to determine that Capillary Bunkers was the right choice. “During my travels I’ve seen all the liners and from talking to my colleagues, it was clear that the Capillary Bunkers stood up the best,” Dudych says.

The initial plan called for doing nine holes at a time. However, because of significant membership growth caused by partnering with the members, the club was able to complete all eighteen holes in one hit. North Carolina-based contractor Signet Golf was hired to do the work. They started in October and the last of the Capillary Bunkers was installed in late November.

Dudych says he has already seen the benefits of doing the work. “We had our first big test last Saturday – an inch and a half of rain in an hour,” he says. “Normally that would require fifty to sixty man hours of repair. I sent one employee out, mostly to blow leaves and hand rake and he was done in three and a half hours and the membership is thrilled with the quality!

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Prevention is better than cure

Prevention is better than cure: At a recent meeting of the Amenity Forum, Chris Faulkner of Kersten (UK) Limited spoke about the need for all involved in weed management in the sector to further increase the focus on weed prevention.

He said ‘’A common theme of the conversations we have with customers centre around removing, killing or controlling a weed that already exists. Prevention requires us to think about the causes of weeds on a particular surface and how we can make the environment as inhospitable for weeds as possible’’

Prevention is better than cure

Prevention is better than cure

In a recent presentation at a conference in Wales, the Independent Forum Chairman John Moverley, said ‘’prevention certainly on hard surfaces begins with the design of our environment. For example, designing the corner of a kerb with a nice wide radius, rather than a sharp corner allows a sweeper to easily follow the edge of the kerb and collect any detritus trapped there’’

Also at the conference, a representative from Newport Council commented about their success with improved preventative maintenance work. He said ‘’we have been using mechanical weed removal to minimise the soil build-up over winter and the team has seen a big reduction in the amount of weeds coming up in the spring. This has resulted in the diminished use of plant protection products around Newport’’

The amenity sector has been at the fore front of the development of integrated weed management and produces comprehensive guidance notes for the sector. It is important to recognise that integrated means choosing the right approach and choice of methods for weed management including plant protection products. The increased emphasis on moving to carbon zero also will significant impact on future approaches.

A new guidance note on weed prevention will shortly be available on the Amenity Forum website www.amenityforum.co.uk  and it will be just one of the topics to be addressed in Updating events across the UK organised by the Forum in early 2022. For more information contact admin@amenityforum.net

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Invisibly better

Invisibly better: Reesink Turfcare brings invisible and complete top access in-field irrigation to Toro’s B Series sprinklers with a new natural turf cup.

This innovative addition to the popular sprinkler head allows grass to grow in the cup on top of the sprinkler to create a seamless and continuous area of turf. The quick release rubber cap pops up allowing all the access needed to service the internal parts of the sprinkler without digging it up and it’s available in full-circle or adjustable part-circle configuration.

Invisibly better

Invisibly better

Designed to fit perfectly on the popular Toro B Series sprinklers, this turf cup further enhances the many benefits the B Series sprinkler is known and appreciated for. In action, the heads evenly irrigate a span of some 13 to 29 metres and the volume can easily be altered to deliver exactly what’s required with adjustment from 25 or 15 ‘Dual Trajectory’ options without having to change the nozzle.

Robert Jackson, water division sales manager at Reesink Turfcare, who commissioned and helped design the new turf cup, says: “This new turf cup has been engineered to deliver issue-free, cost-effective invisible in-field irrigation. It provides precise and flexible control for watering no matter what the weather conditions are, giving head-to-head coverage even in windy conditions. We’ve also utilised the flexible rubber compound from our original TS90 range to prevent damage to the cup from pitch renovations or more importantly a player.

“The benefit of in-field irrigation like this immediately improves irrigation uniformity, ensures player safety and guarantees best pitch playability and field aesthetics. And this combination of Toro B Series sprinklers with the Turf Cup from Reesink is ultimate for that.”

Built to withstand the tough environment of the typical UK sports field, this turf cup has been designed and tested to ensure the highest levels of reliability and durability demanded by the market today.

Robert concludes: “As we all know, something as simple as a sprinkler update can make all the difference. The same theory applies to the addition of this simple turf cup. Bringing maximum performance, minimising sprinkler interference and eliminating the need to dig up your pristine pitch during maintenance makes this product your man of the match week after week.”

To talk to someone about the Toro B Series Turf Cup and invisible in-field irrigation for your stadium or training pitches, call 01480 226800.

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Titan tines perfect for better aeration

Titan tines perfect for better aeration: With over 150 Toro Titan tines available to cover all possible aeration applications, you’re guaranteed a perfect fit for better aeration. And with 10 percent off the tines range from distributor Reesink Turfcare for the whole of March, superior parts are now available for even less.

Although courses are currently shut, there are no limitations for maintenance activities and, as before, lockdown affords the opportunity to prepare for the season ahead and make any necessary course improvements. Machinery maintenance is a vital part of that and ensuring no delays to the machinery fleet is Toro Parts and in particular Toro’s Titan Tines.

Titan tines perfect for better aeration

Titan tines perfect for better aeration

Toro Titan tines, a perfect fit isn’t just reserved for Toro machines. With Toro conversion sleeves, Toro Tines can fit on the majority of equipment from competitor brands, as well as current and late model Toro aerators. The conversion sleeve slides onto a 9.5mm mount Toro tine to create a 12.7mm or 15.9 mm mount. So, whether you’ll be coring, slicing or spiking, hollow, solid or deep tining, no matter what machine you use, there’s a Titan tine for every need.

Michael Hampton, turfcare parts manager at Reesink Turfcare, says: “At Reesink we’re dedicated to providing our customers more, which is why our entire Toro tines range is available throughout March with 10 percent off. Not only does this mean a saving on the initial purchase price, but customers will see savings in the long term too. The durable design of Toro Titan tines mean they last longer and reduce costly change-out and associated downtime, and with Toro’s conversion sleeves, all customers can benefit from the superior quality of Toro Titan tines, no matter what brand they have in the shed.”

With a tough design that includes hard-wearing brazed tip joints for in-built resistance to separation and breakage, Toro Titan tines guarantee more longevity, more productivity, more strength, more play and more reliability too.

To ensure turfcare machinery is working at its best and delivering the best possible results, it’s vital to have high quality parts made to fit your equipment. Ensuring worn down or old parts are replaced with high-quality new parts is a cost-effective solution to reduce downtime and maintain high standards.

Don’t make 2021 any more difficult than it is turning out to be, stock up on Toro tines in March for 10 percent off and have one less thing to worry about. Customers can get in touch with their local genuine Toro parts dealer or service centre, call Reesink Turfcare on 01480 226800 or visit reesinkturfcare.co.uk

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Grounds never looking better

Grounds never looking better: Grass roots sports, at least in name, have a dependence on the surface on which they’re played.

That’s why grounds maintenance across the Province has been deemed essential during lockdown – so that our golf courses, cricket squares and sports pitches are fit to play on again when it is deemed safe to do so.

Grounds never looking better

Grounds never looking better

One person with a bigger task than most is James Devoy, head greenkeeper at Donaghadee Golf Club where there is nearly 100 acres to maintain.

The 38-year-old, who lives in Glastry on the Ards Peninsula, makes a daily 28-mile round trip to maintain the golf course.

He said: “It’s essential. If this wasn’t being done the course would become overrun and unplayable. It would turn to pasture very, very quickly. It would be difficult to recover.

“Normally there’s a team of five greenkeepers in total and a part-time guy, but three of them are furloughed at the minute and our part-time guy is off until we’re back to normal … if there is such a thing.

“There’s two of us in to do it. It’s a big undertaking. We’ve just under 100 acres here.

“We’re doing reduced hours at the minute. We’re in every day from seven in the morning and finishing about two.

“Normally the tees and aprons would be cut twice a week, the rough would be cut once a week and the greens would be cut every day. All that is getting done just once and the rough is getting cut every other week.”

Asked if he was ever tempted to play the course given that he’s the only one there, he said: “I’m not actually. We’re being pretty strict at the minute, no golf at all.

“There’s nobody allowed to play the course, there’s people walking it every day, but there’s no golf and there’s no dogs.

“It’s been more than four weeks since anyone has played the course.

“It could be ready to go as soon as the lockdown is lifted. We’re maintaining the course to a high standard.

“The amount of people who have commented on the condition of the course being very good.

“We could open tomorrow if necessary. The only thing would be the greens mightn’t be up to speed. A week would bring them back up to standard.”

He continued: “It certainly makes it easier to maintain with there being no play on it.

“We don’t have a morning routine, we don’t have to set the course up for play. We’re not changing the holes every day, we’re not moving the markers, we don’t have to cut the greens every day.

“The height of the greens are up. Our greens are at five mill, whereas normally at this time of year they’d be down to three.

“That saves the greens, it keeps them healthier because the grass is longer.”

Asked if the dry weather has posed problems, he said: “It has a bit. It’s good in the sense it’s still a bit cold so the growth has slowed down a bit. But yes, the dry weather means we’re watering greens several times a week.

“It just means we have to manage the greens a bit better, keep an eye on them.”

James said the job of a greenkeeper was not normally an isolated pursuit but it has taken on a more eerie feel recently: “When the course is busy with golfers you’re seeing people all the time.

“You have guys who go out every morning at eight o’clock religiously. We know they’re going to be on the course and we adjust our work to keep ahead of them.

“At the minute, it’s just the two of us. It definitely is strange, you’re not having to plan your day around golf. You can do what you want when it suits you.

“It allows us to cut the rough a bit later. As any keen gardener knows it’s better to cut your grass when it’s dry and not first thing in the morning when there’s dew on it.”

Up until very recently Dean Simpson was one of the only people allowed into Wallace Park.

The Lisburn Cricket Club groundsman was permitted into the park to carry out work on the cricket pitch while others were locked out, a situation that has since changed with parks being allowed to reopen across Northern Ireland.

Dean said: “It’s a very, very eerie place when you’re on your own. Normally it’s very, very busy, there’s a lot of footfall around the park.”

Of the work being carried out he said: “We’re really just keeping a lid on things. We’re cutting the outfield and keeping the square at bay. If it gets away from you, you’ll never play whenever the doors open.

“Therein lies a problem because we have very little income. Senior members still pay their subs but we’ve 150 youth members and it’s difficult to charge the wee boys subs when you’ve nothing to offer them.

“We’ve lost income there, there’s no bar revenue, it’s hard to go and ask sponsors for money given that they’ve their own difficulties.

“There’s reduced income so you’re just trying to do the basics to keep on top of things until, maybe, hopefully, this thing will lift in July and maybe allow a few friendlies.

“The danger you have too is if you lose the full season you might lose those youth members.

“You could also lose older ones coming to the end of their careers, who think it is a good time to retire.

“All in all it’s not going to be good for the sport if we have to go a season without playing.”

He said conditions are perfect for the start of the season: “Despite the wettest February on record we’re now having the best build-up to a cricket season in terms of weather that I can remember.

“The grounds would be perfect for the start of the season. Normally you’re running about trying to get covers on.

“From a personal point of view, the way things are going it’s hard to see much cricket.

“I think whenever this lockdown is lifted it’s not just going to be an open house where everybody is going to go back to doing what they were doing before.”

Normally at this time of year Pollock Park in Lurgan would have been transformed from a rugby ground to a cricket one.

However, this year it’s been a matter of playing it by ear for groundsman Kyle Geddis.

He explained that he was simply keeping things ticking over rather than carrying out any major work at the ground: “There’s been no rugby played since the start of March, there’s not going to be any cricket played for a good while, so the powers-that-be have decided there’s no point spending six or seven grand if the pitches are going to be alright for the next season anyway. It could be September before they’re played on again. We don’t know.”

Kyle, one of three groundsmen, said: “The work we’re doing is fairly straightforward. We fertilised the pitches last week and the grass would be cut once a week just to keep it down.

“It is a lot easier to maintain when there’s no one playing on it. You don’t have to mark the pitches every week, you don’t have to repair divots or ruts.”

He added: “The one consolation if there’s no cricket season would be that we don’t have to take the lights and the posts down.

“Though if it needed to be turned around it would only take a day to do it. The square is in good nick. It was reseeded at the end of last season.”

The club is one of a number of sporting organisations in the Lurgan area, who as part of Lurgan Aid Group, are putting together care packages every week to be delivered to those who need them in their communities.

Davy Wilson is one of the volunteers helping to keep Larne Rugby Club in pristine condition.

He said: “We’ve about 18 acres here. There’s four or five of us who do it all voluntarily.

“They come out different days and if they’re ever out together they’re more than two metres apart. They’re able to work away isolated.

“We’re totally self-sufficient looking after the grounds. We don’t get any financial help from the council or other bodies.

“We always have them pristine. There’s three pitches and two training areas plus all the surrounding areas plus the clubhouse. There’s a lovely setting here by the lough.”

He added: “I remember my first season here there was a silage harvester going round and the grass was about three foot tall when you were doing pre-season training. Times have moved on.

“I wouldn’t say it’s helped or hindered having no play on the pitches. There wasn’t long to go in the season. We’ve always worked at them rain, hail or shine so whether or not there’s play on it doesn’t make a difference to what we do.”

Hubert Watson has been president and chairman of Dollingstown FC, but that doesn’t mean he’s shy when it comes to tasks like watering the goalmouth.

He’s been busy at Planter’s Park during lockdown maintaining the pitch for the Premier Intermediate League club.

He said: “Once I knew that it was going into lockdown in mid-March, I contacted Clive Richardson who does all our ground works during the close season.

“We’d already scheduled him for the end of May to do the work, which gives us June and July to allow the grass to grow.

“I gambled and I went ahead and did it in March.

“If football comes back, which I think it probably will at the end of June, one season will roll into another, you might have a three-week gap or something. It wouldn’t be long enough to do what needs to be done.

“So I got Clive in the next week. I got it vertidrained, I got 50 tonne of sand on it and I got it completely reseeded.

“They did all that in a couple of days then I put eight bags of fertiliser on it to help it green up, although it would need a bit of rain.

“We were lucky we got that work done in March.

“Whether clubs would still be allowed to do that I don’t know.”

Explaining what is being done on a weekly basis to look after the ground, Hubert said: “All I do is go down every other day and water the goalmouth because that’s as far as the hose will reach. There’s taps at each end of the pitch.

“The goalmouth is the hardest part to get the grass to grow.

“I’m going out on my own, so no one is getting hurt.”

Dollingtown were in third place in the Intermediate League when the season was suspended: “It’s the highest position we’ve ever been in our 40-year history.

“We were in a great place mentally, physically. We’re in the semi-final of the Intermediate cup, one step away from the National Stadium.

“I never would have dreamt 21 years ago when I came to Dollingstown we could see a team running out at the National Stadium.”

He said: “The players are desperate to get back, it’s hard for them.

“They can’t meet together and do their training together. They’re all out doing their own exercise but it’s not the same intensity.

“I’ve been at this 45 years. I eat, drink and sleep it, but as the man says ‘there’s bigger issues out there’.”

He added: “I don’t think the Premier Intermediate teams are too badly affected with expenses, there’s very few pros in this league. The crowds aren’t bringing in that much of a revenue.

“Our biggest income would come from advertising around the ground. We’d normally invoice our sponsors in March or April, I didn’t do it because that’s the last thing businesses need to see now.”

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Prevention better than cure

Prevention better than cure: Ian Robson Prosport UK & Ireland Importer/Distributor for Foley United, explains why relief grinding maximises the performance of reels by giving a factory finish every time.

Firstly, why is having sharp cylinders (reels) that are the correct shape so important anyway? The answer is obvious – unhealthy turf brings a whole host of other issues which are costly to correct. Therefore, prevention is a far more economic approach than a cure.

Prevention better than cure

A huge amount of research and development has gone into designing a cutting unit to produce the cleanest cut possible with the least amount of fraying and tissue damage to the plant.

The result is that all manufacturers of grass cutting equipment supply new units with relief ground edges.

Why Relief Grind?

Tests carried out by leading manufacturers have established that relief ground cylinders stay on cut up to three times longer than spun ground ones and require less horse power to drive the unit, resulting in greater fuel efficiency and less stress on the hydraulic power systems. In addition, a relief ground cylinder will withstand the abrasive effects of top dressing far better than one spun ground because the relief edge on both the bedknife and the cylinder allows the top dressing to clear the cutting blades easily, helping to prevent the dulling effect seen on spun only units.

Continual relief grinding also decreases the squeezing and tearing of the grass as the units get dull, and most importantly it allows the cylinder to be returned to a factory specification perfect cylinder as quickly as possible.

The overall cleaner cut achieved by relief grinding gives a better after-cut appearance, increased recovery rate due to the clean cut of the grass and reduces the stress on components because less horsepower is needed to drive the cylinder.

Horse Power Study

As a reel wears flat and loses shape (becomes coned), more stress and strain is put on the cutting systems.

Using the figures from the above study a 5-gang cutting unit with relief can require up to 4.5 HP (5 x 0.88HP = 4.5HP) to drive the cutting units therefore a 35HP engine has 30.5HP remaining to drive the rest of the traction system. A 5-gang unit which has been spun ground only, can require up to 13Hp (5 x 2.59HP = 13HP) leaving only 22HP to drive the rest of the traction system.

So, it has been established that relief grinding your cutting units saves you money not only by reducing workshop maintenance time with far fewer grinds but also through a reduction in fuel costs and replacement parts.

It is also important to acknowledge what relief grinding does for a reel. By removing metal from the trailing edge of the blade it forms a relief angle, which reduces the contact area of the cutting edges, resulting in less friction, longer wear life. Typically, when a new mower is delivered the reels will be a perfect cylindrical shape. Over time the blade naturally loses shape, and the sharp edge it arrives with becomes flat and dull, often meaning the reel is no longer a perfect cylinder from end to end. This is referred to as ‘coning’ and a natural point for grinding to take place.

The decision then sits between touch-up and spin grinding, or relief grinding. If there is sufficient relief still on the reel then a quick touch-up is fine but once more than 50% of the relief has gone my advice would be to relief grind again and remove any coning. Failure to remove the coning will eventually be seen in an uneven cut appearance of your turf.

But, the main question mentioned at the beginning comes back; how to get the most out of your workshop resources by choosing the most effective method to sharpen your cutting units. The answer is to trust the manufacturers judgement and return the reels as close to the original factory standard as possible, and for that, relief grinding is the best option. The bonus is this method also maximises performance and gives the best cut.

Better with a bit of Buttar…

Better with a bit of Buttar…: In his first interview since taking over as Head Groundsman at Twickenham, Jim Buttar speaks to Scott MacCallum about his new role.

Sunday February 23 will be a huge occasion at Twickenham.

Better with a bit of Buttar...

It is the first chance for the 82,000 supporters to congratulate England on a fine World Cup. Sure, they didn’t get over the line in the final against South Africa, but they snatched away the cloak of invincibility from New Zealand in the semi. A feat worthy of congratulation in itself.

With Ireland the opponents it is sure to be a massive match and when the 46 players take to the field for the anthems there will be much emotion.

Add another one to that list. Number 47 will also be full of emotion, pride and a few nerves. His chest will swell and the odd tear will be wiped away as those anthems ring out.

Except, except, except…

That was the introduction to this article I had fully intended writing, until “number 47”, recently appointed Head Groundsman Jim Buttar, answered the question I had specifically posed
to elicit the appropriate response.

It was an answer which wouldn’t delight any feature writer, but would certainly please his new employer, the Rugby Football Union, and give them confidence that they had appointed the right man.

Question: “How do you think you will feel when the teams run out on February 23rd for your first Six Nations game against Ireland – Nervous, excited, proud? What do you think your emotions will be?”

Answer: “To be honest, Scott, you get to that point in your career when you’ve done a certain number of games that you have gained the ability to tune out. You are aware that it is going on but busy focussing on pitch performance and noting where scrums have taken place for repair etc.”

Thanks Jim!

In fairness, perhaps having sensed my disappointment, he did go on to throw me a bit of a bone.

“How will I feel? I think I’ll probably be a little bit excited, with it being my first match under England Rugby. It will be slightly different to what I’m used to doing.”

Better with a bit of Buttar...

But then he couldn’t help himself. “On the whole I’ll be cool, calm and collected and too busy to have my mind on other things.”

Taking over from the redoubtable Keith Kent is a big task, but Jim boasts a strong CV, one which suggests he is a good fit to maintain one of the most iconic patches of turf in, not just UK sport, but worldwide.

He was Stadium Head Groundsman at White Hart Lane for a number of years before moving to become Pitch Consultant for ProPitch, a role which saw him jetting around the world working on pitches at events such as the Champions’ League, the African Cup of Nations, the Club World Cup and the Asian Cup.

It was while travelling between two countries in his ProPitch role that he saw the advert for the Twickenham Head Groundsman job and decided to throw his hat in the ring.

“My time at ProPitch pushed me right out of my comfort zone and put me in places where I had to deliver pitches where there weren’t the resources, and there was often a language barrier.

It was a very good test for me as a manager and as a groundsman.

“I must also pay tribute to Dean Gilasbey, who was there to guide me in many of the scenarios we dealt with and how to deal with different climates and countries,” explained Jim.

Better with a bit of Buttar...

The opportunity to work with the RFU at such a magnificent national stadium as Twickenham came at a time when was spending more time away from his wife and three young children than he was at home.

As you can imagine the interview process was rigorous and demanding, while his opportunity to view the pitch itself was limited as the stadium was being prepared for a Metallica concert!

“The whole process was how I expected it would be for an elite sporting organisation – very stringent, very thorough, with lots and lots of queries and questions. Afterward there were a million things going through my mind, and I must admit, a little self doubt. As usual I sought counsel from my mentor, my Dad, who I can always rely on for sound advice.

“That advice and being at an age now when I think that’s done, park it and see what happens, saw me through and it worked out,” he revealed.

He has already prepared the pitch for a Barbarians verses Fiji match and, as we talked, he was a couple of days away from the Varsity Match. Overall, however, he has had a good chance to bed in before the start of the Six Nations.

“Because I started in a World Cup year there were no Autumn Internationals, so it’s given me time to get up to speed with policies and meeting all the different teams of people who work for the RFU. I am slowing starting to remember names now.”

Having majored in football for most of his career a move into the oval ball game presents a different set of challenges.

But he is confident that while there are differences, it is fundamentally about plant health.

“With hybrid reinforcement the grass plant for rugby are very similar to football and they are only to move so far before they able to get traction, even during scrummaging, so the aim for a rugby groundsman is the same as every other groundsman – make sure the turf is as healthy as it can possibly be,” explained Jim, who added that it was a case of working to deal with the stress of sports being played on the pitch, and in the stadium environment “We have an array of products we can use to pre-condition the pitch and help it recover as quickly as possible while the introduction of stadium lighting rigs which came out in 20052006 has been a real game changer.

There was a learning curve with something so new but in the last three or four years everyone has got to the point where we understand what they can do and how to get them to work at their best – some underestimate what they can do and others overestimate.

It was trial and error for a few years,” said Jim, who will be working with the rigs of Dutch company, SGL.

Better with a bit of Buttar...

Jim is an advocate of pitch performance data and using the evidence provided to develop the best maintenance practices for the pitch and to help other stakeholders understand with data to measure pitch performance.

“There are many variables, the most obvious one being the weather, which we can’t do anything about, but we can gain a bit of control over other variables and by checking data and tweaking practices where necessary we say that we’ve done everything possible to make the playing surface as good as it can be.”

Although born in Kendal, Jim is very much a Northamptonshire lad, commuting home daily when he was at Tottenham and it is something he will continue to do in his new role.

“It gives me time to catch up with my voicemails and make my phone calls. I like it where we live, it’s, nice, quiet and out of the way.”

As a youngster, career wise, it was toss-up between a Governmentsponsored groundsmanship apprenticeship and following his father into the Weetabix company on an engineering apprenticeship. The popular breakfast cereal manufacturer missed out and groundsmanship gained a new recruit. The thought of working in sports and being outside were the big attractions for me and making my decision And so it was a week before his 17th birthday he started at Kimbolton School, in Cambridgeshire, which combined with day release to Moulton College, in Northampton, to give him a solid start in the industry.

“I absolutely loved Kimbolton. I was working predominately on cricket and athletics, and I spent three and a half years there during which time I completed my Level 2 and started my Level 3. Then an opportunity came up at Rushden and Diamonds Football Club and I went in as an Assistant Groundsman. Three years later I was Grounds Manager. I was 22. My then boss had left to go down to Tottenham Hotspur and when a position came up there, I went for the job.

“I was 23 and thought it was now or never! I did have the option to stay but it was a chance to go and work at the very top end and it was a good time for me to go.”

That was in 2003 and by 2005 he was Stadium Head Groundsman, a position he held until 2017 when White Hart Lane closed.

He holds his first bosses in extremely high esteem and still uses the qualities he saw in them as part of his own skills’ package.

Better with a bit of Buttar...

“The Head Groundsman at Kimbolton was Andy Trainell and he was one of those guys who showed me what it took to deliver good surfaces. You have to work hard and if you think it’s not good enough then the likelihood is that it won’t be good enough. He was of the work hard, play hard mentality.

“Ray Bailey, Head Groundsman at Rushden and Diamonds, was a very laid back character, but he showed me that if things were starting to go wrong, just how quickly and easy it was to fix. Just because it doesn’t look good now doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to be looking good when we need it to look good.

“I was Deputy Head groundsman to Paul Knowles. We made a very good team and really strived to produce the best surfaces we could with the resources we had. I learnt what it took to work as a team, we still talk weekly as friends, he’s really great guy.

“Those were the cherry picks that I took for those two guys,” revealed Jim.

Other motivating driving forces over the last decade have been provided by his peers.

“There has been a generation of groundsmen who have really pushed things along and you really want to be a part of that. They are all delivering surfaces which are the envy of the world. That is what gives us the hunger to strive and keep going.”

Jim is relishing his new role and getting the pitch into the best possible condition for the Six Nations.

Better with a bit of Buttar...

Frustratingly, he has to wait for the third series of matches until that first home fixture, then has a couple of weeks to prepare for the visit of Wales.

He has touched base, via twitter, with his fellow Six Nations comrades-inarms and is looking forward to meeting up with Jim Dawson (Murrayfield), Lee Evans (Principality), Majella Smyth (Aviva) and Tony Stones (Stade de France) once engagement commences.

Before that, and a couple of weeks after we spoke, he had a double header on December 28 with Harlequins playing Leicester Tigers followed immediately by a ladies’ match. It might seem that it’s not much of a Christmas break but, coming from the congested Christmas football schedule, Jim is happy to accept his own festive assignment.

It is exciting times ahead for Jim Buttar and Turf Matters wishes him, and the rest of the grounds team, Deputy Ian Ayling and Assistant Andy Muir, all the very best for the future.

Just one thing please, Jim, give us a bit of a hand with the intro next time!

Makita Speaker Gets Even Better

Makita Speaker Gets Even Better: The new and versatile Makita DMR202 Job Site Speaker with Bluetooth delivers the ultimate sound system on site offering a wide range of playback options.  Powered by the Lithium-Ion range of Makita 18v LXT and 10.8v to 12v CXT slide type batteries, as well as AC power supply, this compact and lightweight speaker delivers a huge 10.0 watts of output from the two-way speaker system.  This model also features a 101.6mm woofer and 36mm tweeter.

This intelligent speaker features several new benefits including an LCD panel that displays song titles as well as the singer or band.  Conveniently, it can play music in USB Flash Memory overcoming the need to run via a mobile phone, and it has a repeat function that allows the entire playlist to repeat, or to be song-specific.  Additionally, a play at random function can be selected.

Makita Speaker Gets Even Better

This must-have job site speaker is also equipped with Bluetooth Class 2 to wirelessly connect to your mobile device for playing music with a range of up to 10 metres.  There is never a fear of losing signal or running your device battery down as the DMR202 can charge your device and play at the same time, offering convenience, versatility and greater safety.

Other features of the DMR202 speaker includes AUX-IN jack; LED indicators to show power supply, maximum volume, and Bluetooth pairing / connectivity; a IP64 protection rating against dust and light rain fall, and a flat-top, anti-slip surface for the portable device.  Within the speaker’s compact proportions of 211mm x 199mm x 206mm, there is an integral compartment to store your portable device so it can also be charged whilst stored within the speaker for ultimate protection and security.  Elastomer bumpers and comfortable carrying handle complete this body only model allowing you to use the existing batteries for your range of high performance Makita power tools.

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