Grass is greener on the other side: Hillside Golf Club on ‘England’s Golf Coast’ in Southport knows only too well the importance of its biggest asset: its greens. As host to many tournaments including the British Masters, they are what’s most judged and why the club opted for Toro’s Greensmaster eTriFlex 3370 all-electric riding greensmower to lead its frontline mowing fleet.
The R&A, which together with the USGA governs the sport of golf worldwide, provides best practice guidelines on all aspects of golf course management to help grow golf in an environmentally sustainable way. And this was one of the facts that contributed to Chris Ball’s decision-making process when choosing the club’s new greens mower this year.
Chris, the club’s links manager has been in the industry for 31 years and has been associated with Hillside Golf Club for over 20 of those years; he says: “The R&A is rightly pushing clubs to make the correct environmentally-friendly choices wherever possible so when we had a hydraulic leak earlier this season, the club asked can this truly be avoided in the future? The answer was yes and that led us to consider the all-electric option.”
Of course, this option has been provided to the industry by Toro in the form of the Greensmaster eTriFlex 3370 and despite reservations Chris couldn’t be more glad he decided to look at the all-electric mower.
“My reservations were based on this being a bit of an unknown quantity in terms of costs,” says Chris. “But Steve Halley from Cheshire Turf Machinery who sold us the machine and our club secretary/manager Chris Williams did some number crunching and presented the costs over three years and it alleviated my concerns on that count. What the process concluded was that you can’t base your decision on the purchase price, total cost of ownership plays a huge part here.”
So, what of the machine and it’s performance? Chris says the clubs along the coast don’t have much Toro equipment, but what they all have is the impressive technology of the ever-popular ProCore aerators and the Sidewinder machines for mowing round bunker tops and fairway gathers, but could the performance of the electric greensmower be the next piece of Toro they all have?
Chris says: “I can’t find fault with it. And the more we use it the more positives we find. But first and foremost is the members’ feedback. They love the idea of the all-electric mower on their course, and all take great interest in it when it’s out on the course. Quality of cut is excellent and specifically highlighted by many golfers was that the ball roll appears far superior, even though we are now mowing at 5mm through the summer which is higher than previous years. It’s great for the club as they are doing all they can to see the return of the desirable grass species on the greens and at this height its very achievable.
“It’s incredibly user-friendly and definitely my preferred option for mowing the greens on a daily basis. The quietness and not needing ear defenders means you notice everything the mower is doing; it provides a totally different mowing experience and of course you can work quietly around the golfers.
“Maintenance is really easy – there are no grease points and the bearings are sealed for life, there’s nothing for us to do – apart from keeping the cutting units sharp by regular grinding. There is a small service at 800 hours and even then, that’s just topping up the coolant. And in terms of productivity, it can easily do all our 20 greens before we charge overnight but during our first weeks with the mower, we thought we’d see how far the mower could go and we managed to get 39 greens out of it before charging, which in a linear straight line is some distance for a mower.”
Chris confirms: “It seems to be the way of the future and I genuinely believe it won’t be long before the switch over to electric is more commonplace.”
A true Championship Links course and host to many events in the past, Hillside continues to invest in its primary asset and has recently completed two major phases of course improvements. Chris concludes: “The time was right to invite Toro to bring their electric technology to the course. I feel it matches our ambitions as a club going forward, giving us that extra something on the greens.”
Steve Halley, managing director at Cheshire Turf Machinery, comments: “Jeff Jago from our sales team has worked hard to make the breakthrough at Hillside where Chris and his team have really bought in the many features and benefits of the eTriFlex. Their enthusiasm for the machine has been really satisfying and is sure to be noted by other potential users.”
To talk to someone about Toro’s electric and hybrid technology and how the Toro range would suit your course, call 01480 226800.
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