Toro a hit at Robin Hood GC

Toro a hit at Robin Hood GC: Robin Hood Golf Club in Solihull has come on board as a Toro fleet customer for the first time as course manager Luke Dennis attests to Toro outperforming other brands across the UK and beyond.

With a career that has seen him work on championship courses hosting major tournaments such as The Ryder Cup, across the UK for European tour events at the Belfry, Forest of Arden and Slaley Hall and further afield to Sweden for the Scandinavian Masters, as well as working in machinery parts maintenance, Luke certainly has an in-depth perspective when it comes to golf course machinery.

Toro a hit at Robin Hood GC

“I have the benefit of having experience working on the maintenance of machinery parts and as course manager which means I can look at a machine from two different perspectives – what it requires for upkeep and how it operates,” says Luke. “And my experience has shown me on both fronts that Toro outperforms and outlasts the competition.”

The club has had a mix of machinery up until now and the difference in having a full Toro fleet of high-quality, durable machines is palpable. And it came as no surprise to Luke when extensive demonstrations for the club’s new fleet, organised by Reesink Turfcare’s Jon Lewis, beat out the competition.

“In particular the Reelmaster 3575 really stood out,” says Luke. “The after cut appearance achieved with the perfection brushes is the best I’ve ever seen despite unfavourable weather conditions at the time of the demo.

“We also opted for the Reelmaster 3100 with groomers to enhance the semi rough. Although quite an unusual decision, so far we have received amazing feedback on the definition and quality of the ball lie achieved, which allows a cleaner impact to the back of the ball for golfers.”

With Robin Hood Golf Club now 126 years old, the parkland course of Harry Colt design is a well-regarded golfing venue near Birmingham, and its recent addition of a full Toro fleet comes as the next step in its ongoing development.

Over the last ten years, there’s been a substantial investment to help reconstruct and modernise the course, and the Toro package deal is the cherry on the cake, explains Luke.

“The full Toro fleet means we have reliable, high quality machines, which allow us to present the course to a high standard week-in week-out for our members and visitors,” concludes Luke. “And I’m pretty sure we will continue to see the course improve with Toro on board.”

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Greenkeeping Award For Gregg Hood

Greenkeeping Award For Gregg Hood: Trainee greenkeeper Gregg Hood has been crowned SRUC Elmwood’s annual John Deere HNC Student of the Year, after making a career change in is early 40s. Greg won the award, sponsored by John Deere and Scottish turf dealer Double A, for a conscientious and enthusiastic approach to his programme of studies during the 2017/2018 academic year.

Born and bred in Glasgow, Gregg had a successful career as a qualified accountant and then a mortgage broker before making the jump into greenkeeping at the age of 42. “It was one of those life changing decisions that I just had to make,” he says. “I had thought for a couple of years that it was time for a change. I’ve always loved my golf, and thought it was a great environment to work in. I was also interested in how golf courses are put together, how they’re looked after and made to look so good.

Greenkeeping Award For Gregg Hood

“My partner Lisa was very supportive, so I finally left work in June 2017 and applied to the SRUC, having been in contact with Elmwood’s greenkeeping coordinator Mike Clark for a year or so before that. We agreed that the HNC in Golf Course Management would be the best entry level course for me, combined with volunteering on a golf course to get some practical experience.”

That golf course turned out to be St Andrews Links, where Gregg started volunteering two days a week from September 2017, about two weeks after starting the course. “It’s been fantastic, and course manager Kevin Muir and his team couldn’t have been more helpful. Everyone’s been very happy to give me the benefit of their time and knowledge, so it’s been an absolutely brilliant opportunity.

“Going in I was obviously a little apprehensive about my age, but both Mike and Kevin said if you show a good attitude and you’re there to learn, then as long as you can do the work and be a part of the team, there are no issues. I haven’t given it another thought since.

“I’ve never been part of anything like this before, certainly not in accountancy, where there’s always that element of competition, even when you’re working in a team. The only competition on a golf course is to improve your skills and make yourself a better greenkeeper. People at St Andrews Links and the college are really impressive, and all round I’ve found it to be a very encouraging environment to work in – I’m still very excited by it all.

“I’m now a BIGGA member and contracted at St Andrews Links until November 2018, and if a permanent position became available then I’d definitely apply. If not then I might try a warm weather grass course abroad over the winter months. Ultimately I would like to hone my skills and get more experience, including tournaments at other courses.”

Course tutor Paul Miller, who is based at SRUC’s Elmwood campus in Cupar, Fife, adds: “Gregg’s decision to change career was made after a great deal of research, preparation and consideration of all the implications. This thoroughness of preparation soon became evident in his course work, which he produced most conscientiously and to a very high standard right from day one – his commitment to making the most of the learning opportunity was impressive.

“Quickly realising that he would also need to build up his practical skills and his industry networking, Gregg volunteered to work at St Andrews Links, again demonstrating his enthusiasm and willingness to learn in that environment as well as in the classroom. He also applied for and was successful in gaining an R&A Greenkeeping Scholarship through SRUC.

“Having also secured a seasonal position on St Andrews Links, Gregg’s development continues apace. We all look forward to watching his growth in the industry and the contribution that he will make to greenkeeping as his career progresses.”

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