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Terra Spike GXi8 HD frees up more time

Terra Spike GXi8 HD frees up more time: Panmure Golf Club in Carnoustie, Angus, established in 1845, is one of the clubs that originally helped purchase the Amateur Championship trophy. 

A very close neighbour to Carnoustie Golf Links, Panmure, is widely acknowledged as a distinguished links course, and highly regarded for its immaculate fine turf and well kept fairways.

Terra Spike GXi8 HD frees up more time

Terra Spike GXi8 HD frees up more time

Head Greenkeeper, Gary Nicoll, took delivery of a Terra Spike GXi8 HD in early January, his first ever Wiedenmann.

“I’d been wanting to move to the next level with aeration for a while. We were due an upgrade. Our previous machine had done well but time was right for something faster, with a real clean finish.  Wiedenmann’s GXi series is used widely across the industry and its popular for good reason.

“We have around 11 hectares of turf, seven of which are fairways. All aeration is done inhouse, so, it’s our team of six and no contractors.  Recently, we have borrowed a machine to have two going at once to get through it more quickly. We do all greens, tees, shoulders and fairways, virtually the full course.  The old machine was 1.6 m wide and just doing Panmure’s fairways took around four weeks. I’m confident the team with the GXi8 can knock at least a week off this as it’s 20 cm wider and a good bit faster. Even just one week a month would make a healthy saving on greenkeeper time, on fuel and efforts to avoid play being interrupted.”

Installation and induction training was by Wiedenmann UK’s lead demonstrator, Andy Kerr and Mike Lindsay, Area Sales Manager, from local Scottish dealer. Fairways GM, at Kinross.

“It wasn’t a case of drop a machine at the gate and leave,” said Gary, “Andy cut the PTO shaft then he and Mike systematically showed us how to set every aspect to suit our course. It was as thorough a handover as I’ve known.  There are lots of moving parts but despite that, it’s easy to set up and easy to maintain.”

The next day, Gary took the immediate opportunity to do all 18 of his greens and the practice green before a combination of rising water tables, thick ice, and then lying snow, halted meaningful work across the course for over four long weeks.

“In that first run out we got a real good taste of what the Wiedenmann can do for us. Instantly it was quicker than what we had been used to, neater and smoother.

“The clean finish is such a benefit.  At the demonstration we found on our fairways, even with a moderate amount of heave, say 10°-15°, the GXi8 makes no disruption to the turf surface; Nor does a departing tine lift up the ground.  All disturbance is contained below the surface, just where you want it.  The surface is left stable with no requirement for extra rolling.

“However, after our initial run, the rest of January and February’s ground conditions were so poor we didn’t have the opportunity to do as much as we had hoped.

“Extra runs are planned for several choice areas. In a few places standing water has remained, so once these patches are fully dried out, we will revisit them with a decent set of tines. The beauty of the faster machine is that we nip out at times of our own choosing; targeting areas that need more work.

“Going forward we’ll be out probably every month from October through until March. I think we’ll always stay with 12 mm tines on our fairways.  For us, I don’t want golfers ever to ask for any preferred lies so I’ve politely declined any wider tines, happy with the 12 mm and with the 25 cm depth.

“I’ve also invested in the multi tine holders which take 5 mm pencil tines. After we come through the winter, I’ll play it by ear how often and where we’ll go with those. But it’s very pleasing to know we’re now equipped with the technology to keep ahead with our aeration needs and replicate best practices across the industry,” concluded Gary Nicoll.

Fairways GM’s, Mike Lindsay said: “The GXi8 HD ‘s fast speed is derived from its twin drive while its eight legs of tines are timed to hit the ground in pairs, which further enhances its smoothness and makes it kinder to turf. Advance Tine Control (ATC) allows precise tine entry into the ground, all tines exactly spaced, making a neat and clean job with surface disruption negligible. We were just so fortunate that Gary’s team got that one run in before the really bad weather took hold.”

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GKB Machines teams up with BIGGA

GKB Machines teams up with BIGGA: The British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association has welcomed GKB Machines as its latest Educational Supporter.

GKB Machines was founded in 2015 and offers sustainable, reliable and robust maintenance machinery for natural, synthetic and hybrid turf. A part of the GKB Group, the family-owned company has a commitment to sustainability, which it backs up with the production of energy neutral machinery since the company began in 1946.

GKB Machines teams up with BIGGA

GKB Machines teams up with BIGGA

During a difficult 2020 for everyone, continuing professional development became more important than ever and BIGGA hosted significant opportunities for education for the greenkeeping industry through various online formats, including the Continue to Learn Extra webinars, National Regional Conference and, most recently, the Continue to Learn education programme that took place as an entirely-online event across two weeks during January.

These opportunities for BIGGA members to develop their professional skills and knowledge despite the ongoing coronavirus health crisis are made possible thanks to BIGGA’s Education Supporters and Partners.

BIGGA Head of Business Development Lauren Frazer said: “The efforts of the GKB Machines team mirror many of the priorities that BIGGA and its members are striving towards, with an emphasis upon sustainability and more efficient working practices and an awareness that the only way to achieve these aims is through education and a proactive broadening of knowledge. Our two organisations share significant synergy in these and many other ambitions and I am delighted that we are able to welcome GKB Machines on board as our latest Education Supporters.”

GKB Machines UK Sales Director and Operations Manager Tom Shinkins said: “It’s great to be able to support greenkeepers in this way and to give something back to the industry I came into as a 16-year-old apprentice.”

Head to the BIGGA website to find out more about GKB Machines and its commitment to sustainability and reliability.

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Reesink Round Up

Reesink Round Up: It’s about this time of year Reesink Turfcare would be at BTME. The stand in the Purple Zone would be up, the coffee machine would be on and Reesink representatives would be ready to meet customers and greet new contacts, telling them what they can expect this year from Toro’s fine turf machinery and irrigation products, Otterbine lake and pond aeration and TYM tractors.

While that’s obviously not the situation, Reesink still has news to share and updates to bring, new innovations and technology to talk about and new names and faces to introduce. Here Reesink’s managing director, David Cole, talks about the challenges and achievements in 2020 and what’s coming up.

Reesink Round Up

Reesink Round Up

“2020 was an extremely challenging year for us all,” David says. “Few, if any, industry sectors escaped unscathed from the impact of a sweeping pandemic. So, it’s worth taking a moment to recognise the resilience of our customers, our dealers and even ourselves for surviving the year. For Reesink, we have had to become a different business from this time last year.

“COVID-19 forced us to make some changes. We saw some of our well-known customer-facing colleagues take early retirement as a result of the changing workplace, whilst some also left to seek out new challenges. So, we took the opportunity to restructure the business, and refocus on the fundamentals. We welcomed, and congratulate here, Alastair Rowell in his appointment as UK sales manager and Trevor Chard as national account manager for Toro fine turf and grounds. In addition, we welcomed new people to the Turfcare sales team, regional business manager David Timms for the southwest and midlands and salesman Daniel Tomberry for the midlands.

“Customers in certain areas of the country have a new Reesink contact, not because their old contact left but because we’ve made those structural changes to the areas our representatives work in and because our sales reps now cover both Toro fine turf and grounds machines. Post-COVID, it made sense to now have one contact for all Toro customers in one area, a single source of expertise.

“We focused on our parts, servicing and support division. We knew how important this would be to so many throughout lockdown. During that time machine sales slowed, and clubs kept hold of existing machines due an upgrade for longer. Toro has the benefit of longevity and durability on its side, but still replacement parts have never been more in demand. We’re pleased to say we and our dealerships were able to continue fulfilling performance parts orders throughout that time and we hope it helped.

“Despite the challenges, concerns and distractions, 2020 had some highlights. We launched our online national network Ree.Own, providing access to the best used Toro machinery available in the UK. The opportunity to browse, compare prices and match budgets on a range of machines that are guaranteed to have less than 3000 hours use on the clock, have been used for less than seven years and been through a multipoint check by trained technicians, will have been helpful for many customers with budgets under pressure and the volume of choice will only grow overtime.

“The launch of the Toro Greensmaster eTriFlex 3370 all-electric riding greensmower was another highlight. A machine that has brought the next big technological advancement to the market. Electric power is here, and here to stay, and the 3370 delivers the charge capacity and day to day performance to make this important technology a practical solution at last. Already customers are enjoying the noise-free, clean cutting this machine affords and we’re seeing that momentum continue in 2021.

“We are transitioning to Tier V engines in many Toro machines, an important and regulatory change for emissions control that has impacted the whole industry. And we welcomed Franklin pumps and SRC two-wire irrigation controllers to our product portfolio to provide an even more comprehensive range of irrigation solutions to our customers. Plus, during 2020 we saw a significant pick-up in interest in Toro’s GeoLink precision spray system, which impacts chemical waste and over-spraying.

“BTME has always been a highlight in the Reesink calendar. We really enjoy the opportunity it presents to catch up with everyone around the important educational activity and while the update on your laptop, mobile or magazine instead isn’t the same, we hope it reminds you we’re here and would love to hear from you!”

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ECHO tools up with accessories

ECHO tools up with accessories: ECHO Tools UK has introduced a new catalogue of its comprehensive accessory and PPE ranges. Safety is always paramount when using power equipment and a good place to start is with protective clothing.

Professional safety gear is essential for protection and comfort whilst working and ECHO offers two series: Performance Series and Pro-Tech Series. Both have been designed for the professional market and as such are also suitable for domestic users. Performance offers two styles of chainsaw trouser, both featuring six layers of blocking material for protection against accidental chainsaw contact. The chainsaw flex trousers have Polyamide and elastane for high flexibility and comfort, with Pezaflex aqua waterproof reinforcement for weather protection. High visibility with reflective elements is common to the chainsaw and brushcutter trousers in the Pro-Tech Series while being lightweight yet highly protective in extreme weather conditions. Heavy-duty gloves, chainsaw gloves, a multi-purpose helmet, protective sleeves and braces complete the PPE line-up.

ECHO tools up with accessories

ECHO tools up with accessories

The ECHO range of accessories and consumables include oils and grease, batteries and chargers, harnesses, trimmer line, hedge trimmer tip guards, the Rotary Scissor Head and YOUCAN kits. ECHO batteries are specifically designed for ECHO electric power tools. Including both 2Ah and 4Ah variants, they fit the 50V or 58V Lithium-ion ranges and are interchangeable between selected tools in the range.  The chargers and rapid chargers ensure batteries are topped up for maximum productivity. The Rotary Scissor Head is a brushcutter attachment which features two contra-rotating blades for safer, more precise cutting. ECHO trimmer lines are made for high durability and performance, being manufactured with copolymer resins and outstanding extrusion techniques. There are four ranges to suit all professional and consumer needs. There is also a range of versatile metal blades.

Among the ECHO consumables are own-brand chain oils, two-stroke oils and grease for optimum lubrication and long-lasting protection. A sharp chain makes all the difference in cutting speed, productivity, comfort and safety. ECHO chainsaw files are high quality and help reduce servicing costs by maintaining a well-sharpened saw. There is also a complete range of guide bars and chains.

By staying on top of recommended maintenance schedules, users not only prolong the life of their ECHO equipment, they also save time and money by reducing the possibility of large-scale repairs. YOUCAN is ECHO’s maintenance kit for tuning up a selection of chainsaws, brushcutters, hedge trimmers and power blowers. It comprises air filter, fuel filter and spark plug to keep tools ship-shape, with genuine ECHO replacement parts. ECHO batteries have a 2-year warranty, the Rotary Scissor Head has a 1-year domestic guarantee and 180-day professional warranty and ECHO clothing comes with a manufacturer’s guarantee. You can find out more from your local authorised ECHO dealer. You can also visit https://www.echo-tools.co.uk/product-category/accessories/ or call 01844 278800 for more information.

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PM36 serves up competition-ready courts

PM36 serves up competition-ready courts: As a sole Groundsman, Robin Wilcox has his work cut out looking after the 19 courts and 5 croquet lawns that make up East Dorset Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (EDLTCC).

On the sites nine grass courts, DLF’s ProMaster 36, and its tolerance of low cutting heights, has given Robin the advantage – freeing up time for the other tasks which keep the courts and lawns competition ready.

PM36 serves up competition-ready courts

PM36 serves up competition-ready courts

One of Robin’s key goals when he joined EDLTCC two years ago was to bring the grass courts up to standard required to be selected, once again, as a host for the qualifying stages of The County Cup. “Over the years the courts had accumulated layers of thatch, so we could have gone down the road of scarifying and adding additional loam, but we decided to go for a full renovation.” During his first year at the club, Robin skimmed off the top layer, cultivated, levelled and seeded with Masterline PM36 perennial ryegrass mix.

“A great combination of warmth and rain in the late summer/early autumn of 2018 meant the courts were green in under three weeks and I carried out the first cut at six weeks – everybody at the club was amazed at the germination. Our artificial and clay courts took the strain while the grass courts were under renovation but when they re-opened for play in 2019, there was a new wave of members wanting to play on the grass and they coped, and recovered, from the high levels of wear very well.”

The decision to go for a pure-rye mix gives Robin the playing and resistance characteristics he requires, even under close mown conditions. “Because of my workload, I have to split my time between the artificial courts, grass courts and lawns so this means I am limited to mowing just twice a week. With the PM36 mix, it is hardy enough to cope with going as low as 5mm without any detrimental impact on turf quality.”

While a final decision by the LTA is expected at the end of May, at the time of writing the County Cup remains in the tournament calendar and the improvements Robin has achieved sees EDLTCC chosen as a host venue, after a few years absence. “It’s fantastic news for the club.” Robin concludes, “Everybody is delighted with the results of the renovations – the PM36 has delivered great quality courts fit for top level play once again.”

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JCB serves up 10,000 meals

JCB serves up 10,000 meals: JCB’s ‘Food for our Communities’ initiative today served up a major milestone as the 10,000th meal was despatched from the company’s kitchens for those in need in Staffordshire.

Since the launch of the scheme  – the idea of Carole Bamford, wife of JCB Chairman Lord Bamford –  catering staff at the World HQ in Rocester have been busily preparing cottage pies, macaroni cheese and bolognese dishes for disadvantaged families and individuals across the region during the Coronavirus crisis.

JCB serves up 10,000 meals

JCB serves up 10,000 meals

Today the 10,000th meal was cooked and despatched from the JCB kitchen – just a month after the initiative started. So far, the team has used around two tonnes of potatoes, more than one tonne of minced beef and almost half a tonne of both pasta and onions to prepare the dishes.

In India – where JCB has factories in Delhi, Pune and Jaipur – the scale of the initiative is even greater and staff there have now prepared a staggering 100,000 meals.

Carole Bamford, wife of JCB Chairman Lord Bamford, said: “I’m very proud of all the work the teams in the UK and India are undertaking. Their efforts are making a real difference to the lives of so many people in our communities.”

Thousands of the meals made in Staffordshire are being distributed across Stoke-on-Trent by the Burslem-based Hubb Foundation, to children and families in need across the city.

Founder Carol Shanahan said: “You cannot underestimate the impact the JCB ‘Food for our Communities’ initiative is having on families in our city. Those receiving the food are just so very grateful that companies like JCB are stepping in to help at this time. It’s simply amazing.”

Since launch, the project has been expanded to include sandwiches and so far, more than 2,000 have been made for distribution to the homeless in Stoke-on-Trent and for inclusion in food parcels for vulnerable people in the Uttoxeter area. JCB is also supplying St. Michael’s Church Support Group in Rocester with 100 meals a week for villagers who are in need.

JCB Chef Alastair Rowe said: “It is very rewarding for the whole team to be involved in this project. We have had some wonderful feedback which shows our communities really do appreciate what JCB is doing at this time.”

As well as providing thousands of meals, JCB has also donated vital PPE to front line workers and JCB and its employees have volunteered to produce facemasks for the NHS. Inspired by these efforts,  JCB-sponsored athletes, slalom canoeist Adam Burgess and triple jumper Ben Williams, took on a marathon weight lifting challenge and have so far raised more than £2,400 for the Royal Stoke Hospital.

JCB’s kitchens in Staffordshire are being supported with the provision of food from organic farms at Daylesford in Gloucestershire. Daylesford – founded by Carole Bamford – has supplied organic beef mince to the project, with staff working seven days a week to support the food aid initiative.

In the UK, JCB is also working with Stoke-on-Trent City Council, which is distributing JCB meals to vulnerable adults and children across the city.

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MHM get tanked up

MHM get tanked up: “Deciding to invest in a range of fluid tanks was one of the easier decisions we’ve had to make during our ten years in business,” comments Mat Llewellyn, MHM’s managing director. “Naturally, our line of generators, lighting towers, and welders all need refuelling from time to time, so having the option to offer our clients a complete package seemed a sensible conclusion.”

The first of these fluid tanks that MHM have brought to the market place is the Fuel Buddy. The Fuel Buddy is available in both 950, 2000 and 3000 litre sizes with the 950 and 2000 models available either skid mounted or fitted onto road tow braked trailers.  Presently, the 3000 litre version is only available skid mounted. All are delivered with a three year warranty. To assist against ground contamination, they each feature a fully bunded base which retains all spilt fluids and their handy stackable design is particularly useful for safe storage, when space is at a premium. Each Fuel Buddy is equipped with a lockable access/storage hatch for the pump kit (electric or hand) and the generator or heater connection kit. For added versatility, the tanks have been designed to be quickly interchangeable, as only a few bolts are required to secure the tank to the trailer. A user also has the alternative to either manually operate the fuel delivery pump or take up the option of a 12, 110, or 230 volt system.  There is also a further option for petrol driven pump. For added protection, an anti-slip chequered plate is fitted at the front for steady access to the cabinet space.

MHM get tanked up

MHM get tanked up

All of these features help to make the Fuel Buddy ideally suited for hire companies – enabling a rental firm to offer either static or towable tanks with their clients’ preferred transfer pump option. It only takes around fifteen minutes to change to the preferred pump.

For sound loading and unloading the Fuel Buddy is supplied with four forklift pockets and lifting eyes. Its attractive and protective galvanised framework with a durable powder coated paint finish, renders the Fuel Buddy robust, rugged and ‘rental-ready’ in just about any environment.

With environmental considerations at the forefront, MHM have included the option of having a 30w solar panel fitted to the Fuel Buddy. This system is designed to trickle feed a charging kit situated inside the cabinet, which in turn, provides a similar charge to a 12v battery. This dual operation results in supplying sufficient power to the 12v fuel transfer pump.

All MHM tanks are available for purchase brand new or, quality used. They are also available for rehire to bona fide UK and Ireland rentals firms. Currently MHM have an extra offer of some attractively priced ex demo units which include the three year warranty.

MHM have appointed Brad Ireland as their new UK and Ireland sales manager, with a particular responsibility for marketing the MHM range of fuel, fluid and water storage distribution systems. Brad already has a wealth of experience in these market places and he is keen to impart his knowledge to all interested organisations.

“Brad is a key appointment for MHM as we expand our range of equipment and in particular our new line of fluid distribution products. His experience in this area will be invaluable as we expand this range,” concluded Mat.

MHM was incorporated in 2010 and supplies their range of equipment throughout the UK and Ireland via its’ nationwide three depot network. The MHM plant head office is based in Port Talbot, South Wales. The company supplies power generation, solar-hybrid-generators, fuel storage, lighting towers, engine driven welders and product related accessories to the UK and Irish rental markets, for both hire and purchase.

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Ilkley Town back up and running

Ilkley Town back up and running: Ilkley Town AFC is back up and running in the wake of flooding by Storm Ciara.

“We’re very pleased to be back up and running again,” said Richard Giles, chairman of Ilkley Town. “When Storm Ciara hit, the river burst its banks and came on to the pitch.”

Ilkley Town back up and running

Ilkley Town back up and running

Since then, 20 teams of players and coaches across the whole of the football club have been unable to train or play games for the last two-and-a-half weeks.

Ilkley’s first team, who play on the all-weather pitch at Ben Rhydding Sports Club, have relied on the help of at least 50 volunteers to bring the playing facilities back into use again.

“We’ve brushed and disinfected the pitch,” said Giles. “We’ve worked hard on it, and have had a lot of volunteers to come and help. We’ve had a great response from the community, and players, parents and coaches have all volunteered their time.”

When asked if the floods had disrupted the improvements Ilkley Town need to carry out to upgrade their facilities in case of possible promotion, Giles said: “It’s distracted us, but even during the flooding from Storm Ciara the decorator was inside the pavilion refurbishing the changing room while the flooding was happening. It’s built up higher than the pitch, so it looked like it was in the middle of a lake.”

The hard work by the volunteers has meant for the first time since Storm Ciara, Ilkley’s first team will be able to train in preparation for this Saturday’s West Yorkshire League Cup match against Carlton Athletic. Kick-off is 2pm at Ben Rhydding Sports Club.

With their last two games called off because of the weather, Giles said: “The players will be a bit rusty as they get back to match sharpness. However, every other team will be the same boat.”

Giles said Ilkley Town are just one of the teams who use the facilities at Ben Rhydding Sports Club affected by the flooding.

“The Ben Rhydding hockey pitch had been under water and the groundsman at Ben Rhydding Cricket Club has been working hard to get the pitch back into shape.”

He added that two grass 11-a-side pitches and three mini pitches used by Ilkley Town’s junior teams seem to be okay despite the flooding.

“They’re not too bad,” said Giles. “Once the river goes down, they drain well.”

Giles said the flooding caused by Storm Ciara is rare, and he said the only time he had seen anything like it was Boxing Day 2015. He also said the end of March last year was pretty bad as well.

“It has flooded four out of the last five years after not having flooded before that,” said Giles. “We’re just crossing our fingers that the worse is behind us.”

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Toro up for the job at Upminster

Toro up for the job at Upminster: It was word of mouth and recommendations from nearby customers that saw Upminster Golf Club opt for Toro irrigation.

When Andy Cracknell assumed his new post as course manager at Upminster Golf Club two years ago, one of his first projects was overseeing the installation of a new irrigation system, all he had to do was choose who to go with.

Toro up for the job at Upminster

“By the time I came on board the decision had been made that the system needed to be replaced but it had not yet been decided who would be best to deliver on our objectives, which included a high degree of control to advance the turf quality on the fairways and approaches in particular.”

And it was fellow golf clubs in the vicinity of the club in Essex that made a potentially difficult decision straightforward, says Andy: “Some neighbouring clubs in the M25 area were using Toro irrigation and getting great results. The ground here is London clay and can be particularly difficult to work with, which meant I paid close attention to their experience using Toro irrigation, mainly the Lynx central control system. Everyone was raving about how effective it was.”

This is thanks to the level of control the Lynx system offers, as well as the option to choose sprinklers such as Infinity that can be accessed from the top down to prevent the messy, difficult and time-consuming process of digging up the sprinkler body for maintenance and servicing.

Clay soil needs to maintain a steady moisture level – if it gets overly wet or dry it’s easily damaged when dug up or walked on – hence the reason why Infinity sprinklers appealed so much to Andy.

“It was so important to have a system that offered us the ability to irrigate specifically to our soil’s unique needs,” he says. “We had moved past the point where it was okay to be irrigating in units of minutes, we needed to get down to the millimetre. When treated in the right way clay-based soil has the potential to be really fertile and we’re starting to see the positive difference this level of control is bringing to the quality of the soil.

“We have 150 Infinity sprinklers on the greens, surrounds, approaches and three of the fairways and there’s just no comparison when it comes to adjusting in the field, they’re so easy to use.”

The club also has T5 and T7 sprinklers fitted to specification on the tees and because says Andy “he wanted to keep everything all Toro”.

Apart from ease of use and better-quality turf, Andy says the benefits for going with Toro don’t stop there: “We’ve been using the system for seven months now and we’re definitely making a saving on the amount of water we’re using. We used to use about 70 cube of water a night on the greens but we’re using around 30 now. When you’re irrigating off the mains that’s significant.”

Hopefully though it won’t be long until Upminster has a degree of self-sufficiency to its irrigation, as Andy explains: “We have a river we can do more with. It can certainly be turned into a feature as an aesthetic benefit to the course, but more importantly we can irrigate from it too. That’s one of our next projects.”

Upminster Golf Club’s irrigation system was installed by Full Circle Irrigation and organised by Reesink Turfcare, the sole Toro distributor in the UK for golf and sports fields equipment and irrigation products, and Andy says “it’s been an excellent experience. We’ve had four or five site visits from Cevan Edwards from Reesink and everything has been very smooth.”

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400 Up For Mant Family

400 Up For Mant Family: A son who followed in the footsteps of his dad by becoming head groundsman at Fontwell Park Racecourse is celebrating his 400th race meeting at the racecourse this weekend.

Paul Mant, who took over the role from dad Roger 16 years ago after learning the ropes and working alongside him for more than 20 years, has earned plaudits from leading jockeys including Richard Johnson for his work in making Fontwell one of the country’s most popular courses among jump jockeys.

400 Up For Mant Family

Paul, 54, first started working with his dad on the course as a schoolboy during the summer holidays – he even learned to drive a tractor at the age of 11 – and then as his assistant after leaving school in 1981.

However, it wasn’t until 2003 that he took over the reins from his dad, now 81, who retired after 44 years in the job. Between them they have now clocked up 60 years in charge of the famous figure-of-eight course.

Paul was born in one of only two houses built on the racecourse in 1959 where he still lives with son Aiden. He said: “I’ve been lucky enough to have been part of Fontwell Park all of my life and fortunate to have learned the ropes from my dad.

“I guess I picked up lots of tips and hints on how to do things over the years from just following him around but I’ve developed my own way of doing it. I worked with him for over 22 years so I picked up quite a bit in that time.”

“I’ve only ever missed two race meetings since I became head groundsman. The first was when I was sent on a groundsman’s course and the second one was when Fontwell was given an extra race day during the season and I had already booked a holiday to Spain. I managed to find a bar that was showing it on the TV though!”

His preparations for this Friday and Saturday’s Oktoberfest meeting, one of the highlights of the racing calendar at Fontwell, include mowing the course every two days, which takes him up to four hours, and making sure all of the fences across course are in the best possible condition for jockeys, who he has developed friendships with over the years.

He added: “I always go into the weighing room after every race to and chat to the jockeys and I’ll be doing it this weekend. They will tell me if anything is wrong and what could be improved. They are the ones who put their bodies on the line so it’s important part of my job.”

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