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Reesink finance and customer service triumph in lockdown

Reesink finance and customer service triumph in lockdown: Stratford Oaks Golf Club, in Warwickshire, spent its time in lockdown carefully considering the best machinery maintenance equipment for the long-term future of the club. Its conclusion, unanimously, was a Reesink finance deal for a Toro fleet.

It was a lockdown deal done completely by phone and email. It was a deal done to bring financial security and peace of mind for the next five years. And it was a deal which sees the club step away from the old and welcome a new brand to the club for the first time in 21 years.

Reesink finance and customer service triumph in lockdown

Reesink finance and customer service triumph in lockdown

James Cleaver, course manager, is behind the change of direction and breath of fresh air this will bring to the club. He says: “From the beginning Toro was the top contender in terms of the brand I thought we should go with, but what made all the difference here was the service from Reesink. The effort put into making sure we had what we needed to trial, answering questions, being available and delivering what we wanted throughout lockdown was above and beyond the rest.

“I was expecting, with good reason, service to be different during lockdown, I would have understood if it had dipped at times, but it never did despite how busy they were. And as soon as they could visit safely, they did. It filled me with the utmost confidence.”

So why the change? James says it all comes down to financial security and delivering a better course for its rapidly growing membership: “The Board got together in lockdown to discuss the club’s approach to maintenance. It’s obviously essential, yet in uncertain times making such a significant investment and financial commitment is a decision which needs careful consideration.

“Previously the club had been buying individual machines when needed, which when there are such competitive finance options available, doesn’t have to be the way. So, we worked out what we needed, what the budget was and Reesink offered us a finance deal to suit. We believe this is the best way to see the club through these times safely, with what it needs and with the security of knowing what it will cost. Planning is key for the next few years!”

The fleet is comprised of 11 new machines, including two Toro Greensmaster TriFlex Hybrid 3420 greensmowers, a Groundsmaster 3500-D, a Multi Pro 5800-D sprayer, ProCore 648 aerator, two Greensmaster Flex 21 mowers, a Workman MDX-D utility vehicle, power brush and verticutting units.

Also, bringing a slightly different approach to the team’s maintenance regime and extending the fleet are two lightweight Reelmaster 3575-D cylinder mowers, James explains: “This is the first time we’ve had the use of two fairway mowers and it enables us to cut 10 hectares in around three hours in the morning. Not only is it more productive, but from a safety point of view, the staff are no longer trying to cut the fairways with golfers around them. The Reelmasters are one of the lightest on the market, which for the soft ground conditions we get here will make all the difference.”

How is it, we wonder, welcoming a new brand of machinery to the club after over two decades? James says it feels reassuring: “We needed the reassurance of having and using a quality brand, known for its reliability. It feels like quality using these machines, and the host of benefits they bring are extensive.

“We’re in a high-density area in terms of clubs nearby and it’s essential to have the edge, especially moving forward out of lockdown, and we believe choosing and using Toro gives us that. The fact that Reesink made it possible with such fantastic customer service and financial support fills us with a huge amount of positivity for the future of Stratford Oaks Golf Club.”

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Don’t lockdown your turf management

Don’t lockdown your turf management: While golf courses are facing unprecedented times, greenkeepers are being urged to keep on top of maintenance to ensure courses are in good condition for when golfers return.

Colin Mumford, technical manager at Bayer, says that seasonal conditions, such as plummeting temperatures and excess rainfall, combined with the challenges posed by Covid19, have affected many courses.

Don’t lockdown your turf management

Don’t lockdown your turf management

“Previous lockdowns prevented planned work from going ahead, and once the courses were open, golfers returned in their masses making the management and maintenance of courses very challenging,” says Colin.

He adds that the cold and wet conditions we’ve experienced this winter could also contribute to long-term turf damage. “Despite being in another lockdown, it’s vital that greenkeepers do all they can to start the year with ‘stress free’ turf, as a healthy course will be less susceptible to weeds, pests and diseases,” says Colin.

Unlike previous lockdowns, at the moment, greenkeepers can undertake maintenance work, which should allow them to catch up from last year, weather permitting.

“Preventative disease methods should be undertaken now to reduce the risk of disease appearing later in the year,” says Colin.

“Keeping surfaces dry by switching or brushing dew off the playing surface should be done daily to help reduce disease outbreaks and ensure a cleaner cut when mowing. And if plant health is a concern, the height of cut (HOC) can be raised slightly, but be mindful that courses may open at short notice, and may require a rapid return to the original HOC which isn’t ideal,” says Colin.

“If it isn’t too wet, aeration or verti-draining can help remove below ground compaction allowing water to move more effectively through the rootzone, preventing waterlogging and surface damage to the course.

“Another job that can be done, is cutting back overgrown trees on the course to minimise shaded, damp environments in these areas,” he adds.

Colin warns that golf courses have been one of the first venues to open following a lockdown and therefore temporary courses may need preparing if the weather is still poor. “Letting players onto frozen courses that are beginning to thaw can result in roots breaking due to surface movement, leading to long-term course damage.

“It’s also worth considering re-routing player traffic flow around the key areas of the course and roping off any high traffic areas to avoid turf getting churned up,” adds Colin.

“Turf stress at this time of year can put the plants under pressure, leaving them more susceptible to problems later in the year, and therefore it’s important to try and keep courses as healthy as possible from the outset,” he says.

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Lockdown update from BIGGA

Lockdown update from BIGGA: Following the rapidly-escalating situation regarding a return to full national lockdown restrictions for England, which followed on the heels of similar restrictions in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) has sought clarification regarding the level of course maintenance work that is able to take place on golf courses and other facilities.

BIGGA has reviewed the UK Government guidance and liaised with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf and The R&A and can confirm there will be no limitations placed on maintenance activities able to be undertaken by the greenkeeping teams at golf facilities, driving ranges and other venues where golf and shorter forms of the game take place.

Lockdown update from BIGGA

Lockdown update from BIGGA

While golf courses in Scotland are able to remain open, golf courses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are closed. Taking place primarily outdoors with limited opportunities for cross-contamination, greenkeeping teams have adapted well to ensure staff stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff at all facilities should continue to be aware of social distancing requirements and ensure any activities are undertaken in a manner that minimises interaction with others.

Golf clubs may choose to take advantage of the extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which is expected to run until at least April 2021, and BIGGA is asking facilities to consider the mental health and wellbeing of all staff, both those who have been under significant pressure to work with reduced staff levels for an extended period and those who have been asked to remain at home. Rotation of staff may be deemed appropriate, as is enabling all team members to take part in professional development opportunities, such as BIGGA’s Continue to Learn online education programme that is taking place during January 2021.

BIGGA is also appealing to the operators of golf clubs to use common sense when assigning tasks to the greenkeeping team and reminds club managers of their responsibility to provide a COVID-safe working environment for all members of the team.

BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton said: “With widespread vaccinations taking place across the country, our hope is that this is the final hurdle and golf courses will take the opportunity presented by reduced playing levels to prepare their courses for what we hope will be a busy and prosperous summer season out on the fairways. In the meantime, the focus must be on safety and not putting anyone at risk. Course managers should have an awareness of what work is considered a priority during this period of the year and advise senior management as to these requirements, adjusting staffing levels to suit the needs of the golf facility and to ensure the continuing safety of the entire team.”

BIGGA will continue to monitor this situation and provide addition guidance as appropriate.

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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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