Gullane and Toro partnership to hit 25 years

Gullane and Toro partnership to hit 25 years: Gullane Golf Club in Scotland and Toro certainly have history. With the latest deal taking it to 25 years, it’s a partnership claimed to have produced putting surfaces as close to perfection as nature will allow. 

That accolade was made about the effect of the Greensmaster TriFlex Hybrid 3420 mowers on the course for the Scottish Open three years ago and with a new machine in the club’s last order, clearly the Toro effect continues.

Gullane and Toro partnership to hit 25 years

Gullane and Toro partnership to hit 25 years

“Toro gave us the attention to detail to create near-perfect conditions. It always has, and it’s why this latest deal takes our relationship to a quarter of a century,” says course manager Stewart Duff.

With three 18-hole courses, Gullane No. 1 carved into ancient links turf, Gullane No. 2 sweeping down to a nature reserve, and Gullane No. 3 with views across Aberlady Bay to the Firth of Forth and beyond, it’s no wonder the club is regarded as one of the most picturesque golf spots in the world. And with a state of the art short game practice area, driving range and children’s course as well, Toro certainly has a lot of area to cover when it comes to maintaining the course. Helping with that is the Groundsmaster 4700-D, which is a like-for-like replacement in the last order from Toro distributor Reesink Turfcare.

Stewart explains: “We split our Toro fleet between the courses as we have so much ground to cover, but there are a couple of machines we use across all three; the Groundsmaster 4700-D is one of those machines. With a cutting width of 12.5ft alongside a high-powered engine it’s incredibly productive.”

And it certainly gets put to good use at Gullane, says Stewart: “In the growing season we have the machine in use five days a week across all the courses, doing three times the amount of work compared to our machines that just work on the one course. So the 4700-D that we had in our last fleet for four years, actually did the equivalent of 12 years’ worth of work – but even then, it was still going strong when we signed the new agreement.”

Joining the Groundsmaster 4700-D and the Greensmaster TriFlex Hybrid 3420 mowers in the last fleet purchase was the Toro Workman utility vehicle and ProPass 200 topdresser.

Stewart continues: “We’re constantly looking at small tweaks we can make in order to get the best possible results and improve the courses for all, and Toro plays a big part in that. For example, we opted for the two Reelmaster 3550-D fairway mowers as the smaller sized cutting units allowed us to follow the contours better, which results in a better quality of cut. The slick tyres on the machines also prevent any turf damage when turning.”

Included as part of Gullane’s tournament support fleet in 2018 were Toro’s GTX electric utility vehicles and they certainly impressed Stewart with him saying at the time he’d be changing his utility vehicles to be Toro based on his positive experience. The arrival of three Workman utility vehicles in the last order sees Stewart true to his word and it sounds as though Toro will be around for many more years to come at Gullane.

Stewart concludes: “The team and I are delighted to have Toro here at the club for another five years; although realistically that’s more than likely going to be another 10 years. We really do feel as though we have the best possible machinery for the courses and with a club that wholeheartedly supports that relationship, I can only see us continuing to invest in Toro in the future.”

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Huxley helps Gullane Golf Club

Huxley helps Gullane Golf Club: Huxley Golf was delighted to be commissioned by Gullane Golf Club, one of Scotland’s most prestigious and historic member clubs, to install a large all-weather practice tee as part of an exciting new development.

The East Lothian Club’s new world-class short game facility has been called ‘the envy of all the golf clubs in the area’. Sitting across three acres, it allows players to strike off quality links turf from 12 designated areas and features three bunkers and five pin flags, giving them plentiful options to hone their game, from bunker play to bump and runs, and pitches to flop shots. The practice tee was incorporated specifically to lengthen the practice area in order to keep pace with today’s shotlengthening technologies. Designed as a curve to help golfers aim down the middle, it is 126ft (38m) long by 12ft (3m) wide and was created using Huxley’s famous all-weather tee turf.

Huxley helps Gullane Golf Club

Huxley helps Gullane Golf Club

The transformative works were carried out to further enhance and expand the Gullane experience for visiting golfers while satisfying the demand from members for high-end practice facilities, as Adam Fox, Captain of Gullane Golf Club, explains.

“We are committed to providing world-class facilities here at Gullane. In doing so, visitors will enjoy a wonderful experience both on and off our three courses – one that combines the finest traditions of links golf with the very best of modern amenities. Our new facility adds to our offering for members and visitors, but it also enhances our professional tuition service and gives local youngsters in the Club’s blossoming junior ranks the opportunity to work on their game,” he said.

Course Manager Stewart Duff added: “Naturally, we wanted to work with the very best professional partners to create our vision for the future: those that offer the quality craftsmanship and service that we expect. Huxley Golf delivered on all fronts from initial contact to project completion. I can confidently say that Huxley Golf surfaces are second to none in terms of both durability and playability and, of course, they’re a breeze for the greenkeepers to maintain. I would highly recommend them.”

Hugh Fraser oversaw the project for Huxley Golf. He commented: “Gullane’s three championship courses with dramatic coastal views are as delightful as they are challenging. It’s no wonder that golf has been enjoyed here for some 350 years! It has been a privilege for Huxley Golf to work with the team at Gullane to help them look to the future while protecting their historic legacy. I have no doubt that our all-weather surfaces will contribute to the excellent experience that golfers enjoy there and enhance Gullane’s reputation as one of the world’s leading links courses.”

For over half a century, the name Huxley has been synonymous with golf. Endorsed by the UK’s most distinguished golf organisations as well as many legendary golfers and celebrities and their coaching teams, the Hampshire-based company’s premium all-weather golf surfaces are in use all around the world at top-flight courses, resorts, and training academies.

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Toro At Gullane Golf Club

Toro At Gullane Golf Club: It’s tribute to the quality of the course preparation and wonderful putting surfaces produced by Gullane Golf Club’s course manager Stewart Duff along with his team, with the unparalleled tournament support of Toro and Reesink Turfcare, that South African golfer Brandon Stone had a chance to make European golfing history at the Aberdeen Standard Investment Scottish Open earlier this year.

But, as Brandon stood over his seven-foot putt on Gullane’s 18th green in the final round, Stewart didn’t know what to think. If Brandon made the putt he would have been the first player to shoot a 59 on the European Tour, but Stewart wasn’t sure if he wanted Gullane to be the first course to have a 59 on its CV. On the other hand, it would have been a genuine tribute to the quality of the Gullane putting surfaces.

Toro At Gullane Golf Club

“It was a Catch 22 for me,” Stewart says. “For him, personally, I really wanted it to go in as he was a great Champion, a well-deserved winner and a wonderful young man; but for selfish reasons – for the course and for the club – I didn’t want it to go in. I was 50-50 on it.”

As it turned out the ball stayed above ground and Brandon had to settle for a 60 and a four-round winning total of 20 under-par.

Credit for the fact that Gullane produced the closest attempt yet for that elusive 59 must go to Stewart and the attention to detail he seeks from his team and his turf machinery. And in that he has met an equal in Toro and Reesink.

One example is his use of the Toro Greensmaster Triflex Hybrid 3420 mower, six of which he used on a daily basis to cut tees and aprons, and which it’s said produces results as close to perfection that nature will allow: “The quality of cut is excellent as is the way the units follow the contours on some of our grass hollows on the aprons.”

Recognising the quality, and not wishing to waste an opportunity, as soon as those tasks were finished Stewart had another job lined up for them.

“We changed over to the greens units so the boys could go and cut the greens on our other two courses,” he revealed.

“While the quality of cut and exceptional contour-following ability are huge plusses, I love the fact that there are no tools required to change the units over and even more than that, they have excellent electric motors to drive the cylinder so there’s no chance of oil leaks.”

Unlike most tournament venue course managers, the prize presentation to Brandon wasn’t the end of an intense week – for Stewart and his team it was just half time!

Because, while the world’s attention turned to Carnoustie and The Open Championship, Gullane was keeping itself pristine for the arrival of the ladies and the Aberdeen Standard Investment Ladies’ Scottish Open just the week after that.

This time Thailand’s Aryla Jutanugarn closed with a 66 and a four-round total of 13 under-par to lift the trophy at a presentation which finally gave Stewart a chance to catch breath.

“We did think that keeping the course in top condition for three weeks – two for the tournaments with a week in between – was going to be harder than it actually was, and in many ways it was probably better for the ladies than it was for the men. It was still very good for the men, but it got a little bit drier for the ladies and the greens were slightly faster,” he said, still pinching himself that both events turned out as well as they did.

“If we’d placed an order for weather we’d have asked for exactly what we got. That was our best case scenario.

“The tournament support was absolutely fantastic and, while I know that providing support at The Open Championship at the same time put pressure on them, you would not have known it. In Jeff Anguige and George McDonald from Reesink, we had two colleagues doing their best to ensure we had everything we needed. The support that they offered was wonderful. I’d also like to thank Eddie Adams, the European Tour’s agronomist, who was so much help to us for the men’s tournament, and my staff who were superb throughout both tournament weeks.”

Among the pieces of equipment which arrived at Gullane for the two big weeks were the Reelmaster 5010-H hybrid fairway mowers and the Workman GTX Electric utility vehicles, while the club’s own two Toro ProCore 648 pedestrian aerators and a Toro ProPass 200 topdresser came into their own with the seeding and sanding in the recovery programme.

“The RM5010 mowers are just a great piece of kit. The quality of cut and after-cut appearance are superb and it’s quiet. Plus, the electric motors mean there is no chance of oil leaks. It really is a well thought out piece of kit.”

The Workmans were another to receive the Duff seal of approval: “The new electric Workman has had a lot of thought put into it. Completely quiet, they are really comfortable and have little extras like phone chargers and places to store bits and bobs. While they are not in constant use, we were getting about two days out of a single battery charge.

“We currently have a fleet of utility vehicles which is not Toro, but we will certainly be changing it to be so,” revealed Stewart.

With modern-day equipment providing putting surfaces as close to perfection that nature will allow, that European Tour 59 won’t be too far away. Perhaps Stewart won’t be too unhappy if it does happen on his beloved Gullane!

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