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Council delivering with Ventrac

Council delivering with Ventrac: North Lincolnshire Council is committed to delivering best value to its residents and demonstrated this with the recent purchase of two Ventrac 4500 all-terrain compact tractors and multiple attachments. Delivered and installed by local dealer Russells, the package also included two MU rotary mowing decks, one Tough Cut deck and a Tiller attachment.

So impressed with the versatility of the Ventrac, the council’s Green and Open Spaces Manager Carl Beacock, is already looking at adding an Aeravator, Contour mowing deck, Edger and Finishing deck to this ever burgeoning mini-fleet.

Council delivering with Ventrac

Council delivering with Ventrac

Prior to taking up this latest position, experience groundscare professional Carl Beacock spent 7 years as Grounds Maintenance Manager at the Riverside Housing Group and 9 years as Estate Manager for Kingston-upon- Hull Council.

“We were looking to replace our aging Aebi mower,” he said, “but I wanted to ensure that we achieved best value with an alternative machine that was more than a ‘one-trick pony’, albeit the Aebi is a very competent one!

“When researching the market, I spoke to some colleagues in the south of England, who provided effusive feedback on the Ventrac, especially its versatility. This sounded exactly what I was looking for – a machine that not only performs well as a mower, but one that could be used 52 weeks a year with the right attachments.

“We contacted our local dealer Russells, who quickly organised a demonstration and within less than a minute I realised it was the machine for us. It performs on slopes, its stability is excellent and every attachment does what we expect, ticking the box for versatility. We are mandated to maintain all green spaces in the area including parks, sports pitches, cemeteries and roadside verges. Traditionally we have been using ride-on cylinder and rotary mowers, but they are designed for one specific purpose. whereas the Ventrac is much more versatile.

“We can mow our sports pitches down at 25 mm, then change out the deck in a matter of minutes and be cutting down bracken and brambles. We have a policy of introducing more wildflower meadows across the area and for this this purpose we purchased the tiller attachment. This helps us quickly prepare the soil bed in readiness for the specialist seed mixes and we can do it on steep slopes. We can also use it when we are restoring football and rugby pitches.

“I think this demonstrates that we have purchased a couple of multi-capacity machines, that produce a finished cut on fine turf as good as our current cylinder mowers, but can fulfil numerous other functions. We have been blown away by their performance; every member of my team is commenting on how good they are and that doesn’t happen very often! Without a doubt, it’s a great piece of kit and the best investment I’ve made during my career.”

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Castle Stuart purchase a Ventrac

Castle Stuart purchase a Ventrac: Castle Stuart Golf Links, situated close to Inverness and overlooking the Moray Firth, is the latest Scottish golfing venue to purchase a Ventrac 4500 all-terrain compact tractor and a selection of attachments.

Delivered by local dealer, Double A Trading Company Ltd, the package includes the 25 hp all-terrain compact tractor unit in its 8-wheel configuration, a Contour deck, a Tough Cut deck and Power Rake.

Castle Stuart purchase a Ventrac

Castle Stuart purchase a Ventrac

James Hutchison has been Head Greenkeeper since 2017, when he was promoted to the post from his previous position as deputy. He has been with the club for 14 years, since the beginning of the course build in 2007, so the course is in his DNA.

Commenting on the purchase of the Ventrac and attachments he said,

“This an excellent and versatile addition to our machinery fleet. Initially we’ve purchased three attachments, but I’m sure that over time we’ll be adding to this.

“The Tough Cut deck certainly lives up to its name. We’re using it extensively to take out the broom and gorse that has thrived here over the years. Its rapid growth tends to hide the undulations surrounding the fairways and can obscure the magnificent views over the Moray Firth, which is one of our strong selling points for visiting golfers. Some areas of the course are receiving their first cut in three years and it makes short work of a job that was previously done by a team with brushcutters. The combination of the 8-wheel tractor unit and Tough Cut deck feels really safe, especially when I’ve been using it on 30-degree slopes.

“We’ll be using the Contour deck as a replacement for our old John Deere rotary mower and this will maintain the semi-rough at around 38mm, with the option of raising the height of cut to 100mm, should it be necessary.

“The Power Rake attachment is going to save us time and money when it comes to maintaining the pathways around the course. These were constructed from basic hardcore and Type 1 aggregate when the course was built and do suffer from potholes caused by our machinery and the buggy fleet. I would usually send out three guys to fix potholes, but with this implement that will be reduced to just one.

“I’m now looking at a demonstration of the triple cylinder mowing unit to see if that will suit our future needs. There aren’t any other machines that can swap between rotary and cylinder units plus attach other implements such as trenchers, blowers and even stump grinders. This just demonstrates how versatile the Ventrac is!”

Designed by Gil Hanse and Mark Parsinen, Castle Stuart’s championship golf links opened in 2009 and features 18 holes with stunning views across the water to the Black Isle including Kessock bridge and Chanonry lighthouse. It has hosted the Scottish Open on four occasions and won numerous awards including the GEO Certified® ecolabel, an international accolade that recognises its high standards of performance in nature conservation, water and energy efficiency, ethical and environmental supply chain, pollution control and community engagement.

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‘Fantastic’ Ventrac for Essendon

‘Fantastic’ Ventrac for Essendon: Essendon Country Club, located deep in the heart of the Hertfordshire countryside, has purchased a Ventrac 4500 compact tractor and a trencher attachment to help maintain its two 18-hole parkland courses.

Course Manager Craig Gibson, an industry veteran of 31 years, is delighted with the new addition to his fleet and says,

'Fantastic' Ventrac for Essendon

‘Fantastic’ Ventrac for Essendon

“It’s fantastic; I’m hugely impressed. It’s not often a piece of kit excites us, but this is very different as we can use it all year round. The lads love it, it’s easy to use as you can just jump on and go. It’s really popular with the team.

“I first saw it at another club and was impressed with its tidy finish, then by chance Rupert Price cold-called me to see if we wanted a demo, so I invited him along. We have a clay-based courses and can be very wet in winter, but this machine is brilliant in the wet. Following the demo, it was like a ‘light bulb’ moment, so I made the made the business case to the club management and we agreed the purchase.

“At the moment we have the Trencher attachment as we’re putting in additional drainage, but Rupert kindly loaned me a Tough Cut deck as well, which is an awesome attachment and makes light work of brush and scrub in the woodland margins.

“My next purchase will definitely be the Contour deck attachment. This is an articulating deck which we will use for our bunkers and green surrounds. That’s the unique selling point of Ventrac; it’s so versatile and it can get to areas on the course that other machines simply can’t access.”

After leaving school in 1990, Craig Gibson completed a Level 2 NVQ in Sports Turf Management before taking up his first job at Welwyn Garden City Golf Club. From here he moved to the Forest of Dean, then onto Forest Hills as deputy course manager, where he spent 10 years. He then returned to Hertfordshire as head groundsman at St Christopher’s School in Letchworth before joining Essendon as course manager in 2007.

Essendon Country Club (formerly Hatfield London Country Club) consists of two 18-hole parkland courses, known as The Old course and The New course. The Old course is an undulating 6,800-yard mature parkland course designed by Fred Hawtree and opened in 1976. The New course, opened in 1992, is somewhat flatter but at 7,100 yard offers a challenge to any golfer. The club has a modern approach to golf welcoming all levels of golfer and the clubhouse, built around a 16th century barn, offers excellent facilities.

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Ventrac unveils new flail mowers

Ventrac unveils new flail mowers: Continuing their commitment to produce the highest quality accessories, Ventrac has added two Flail mowers to its growing list of dedicated attachments.

Flail mowers are a perfect choice for any overgrown area, so the new patent-pending Fine Cut and Fast Cut mowing decks are in a class of their own. With out-front mounted couplings unique to Ventrac, these attachments provide a quality finish on tall or dense areas of vegetation for fast and efficient turf management.

Ventrac unveils new flail mowers

Ventrac unveils new flail mowers

Add Ventrac’s capability to mow difficult areas such as slopes, wet areas, or retention pond, and these new decks will ensure an enhanced appearance for any property. Ideal for landscaping applications on slopes, wet areas and retention basins, these mowers make previously impossible turf management situations, possible.

The two available models, Fine Cut (MW series) and Fast Cut (MY series), feature unique knife choices and offer two width options for more versatility of cut, speed, and application. Cutting widths for the decks are 1.42m (56”) and 1.83m (72”) and offer the most versatility for specific property needs.

The Fine Cut Flails (MW560/MW720) are equipped with scoop knives, and will achieve a quality cut with a more finished look on grassed areas mowed between three and eight times per year.

The Fast Cut Flails (MY560/MY720) feature Y-shaped knives, for taming dense and brush-type material. The Fast Cut is an excellent choice for areas of overgrown brush and woodland margins that do not require regular mowing, while providing a superior finish to that of a typical rotary rough-cut mower.

“The introduction of these two new flail options complements our existing Tough Cut rotary mowing deck”, said Rupert Price, of Price Turfcare, the distributor of Ventrac products for the UK and Ireland. “All decks have a flip-up option for easy maintenance, enabling access to the knives for sharpening or replacement.

“Although powered by a sub-25hp Kubota diesel engine, we have enough residual power to provide a rotor speed of 3,000 rpm. This is vitally important as it’s the speed of rotor that dictates the speed and efficiency of the cutting knives and, ultimately, the quality of cut and finish.

“Ventrac has made a conscious decision to keep the power unit of their 4500 tractor unit below the 25hp emissions threshold of Tier 4 legislation. It continues to surprise end-users with the power generated by a relatively small engine and its ability to effortlessly drive each and every attachment. Very rarely do you hear a change in the engine note or experience a loss of power. It is one of the major selling points of the machine.”

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Yorkshire Wildlife Park invest in Ventrac

Yorkshire Wildlife Park invest in Ventrac: The Yorkshire Wildlife Park, situated in the village of Branton, close to the A1 near Doncaster, is the latest organisation to purchase a Ventrac 4500 compact tractor to help maintain its 150-acre walkthrough safari experience.

Delivered by the Rotherham depot of local dealer, Russells Groundscare, the package includes the tractor unit in its 8-wheel configuration and two mowing units: a Tough Cut deck and MU rotary deck.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park invest in Ventrac

Yorkshire Wildlife Park invest in Ventrac

Commenting on the purchase, Director Neville Williams said,
“Lockdown has been a torrid time for us; we’ve suffered a multi-million-pound loss, so we weren’t really contemplating any significant capital expenditure. However, we had issues with our mowing equipment and our mechanic suggested we contact Russells to see what was available.

“Glen Sawyer from Russells came over with a Ventrac demo machine and it performed extremely well, but we didn’t think we could justify the cost. However, Glen was able to organise a flexible lease-purchase arrangement together with a mutual partnership agreement, and that facilitated the purchase. They also loaned us a Power Rake, which was superb at reinstating the pathways and we will be looking to purchase the Trencher attachment in the future.

“As you would expect, we have huge areas of grass to maintain and much of it is on sloping ground around the car parks, picnic areas and in the animal enclosures. We previously had to employ a contractor for these sloped areas, but with the Ventrac we can now do this in-house. The cost effectiveness of this new machine was certainly a factor in our purchasing decision. For example, in the lion enclosure it used to take four men, three days to complete, but now with the Ventrac it is two men in half a day. That’s a very impressive saving in man-days; 12 days reduced down to a single day!

“This year we will be opening an expansion which will double the size of the park and this will include the creation of lakes, reserves and diverse habitats, so the Park can become home to more animals and springboard our efforts to help at-risk species. The Ventrac will play an important part in maintaining this extension to our facilities.”

About Yorkshire Wildlife Park

The Yorkshire Wildlife Park (YWP) was opened in 2009 and currently occupies about 150 acres (60 ha) of the site. The Park is home to number of endangered species including Amur tigers, Amur leopards, Red panda, Giant otters and England’s only Polar bears. The expansive reserves and space for visitors creates a walkthrough safari experience.

In 2021 a further 150-acre expansion will open with more ground-breaking animal reserves and new species for the Park, as well as enhanced visitor facilities. Lakes, reserves and diverse habitats will be introduced in the expansion, so the Park can become home to more animals and springboard efforts to help at-risk species. Landscaped walkways and dynamic viewing areas will provide visitors with an amazing experience.

YWP work with the studbook keepers of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria who coordinate the breeding programmes and animal moves throughout Europe. This will decide which new species will be introduced, allowing the Park to continue their conservation efforts and protect a range of endangered animals.

The park’s popularity has grown over the years, starting in 2009 with only 66,000 visitors; it now hosts in excess of 750,000 visitors a year.

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Aerate and overseed in one pass with Ventrac

Aerate and overseed in one pass with Ventrac: Turf compaction and grass damage over the winter months caused by foot or vehicle traffic and other stresses can be an issue and needs to be alleviated to keep the turf healthy. Now with Ventrac’s Aera-vator and integrated Gandy seeder it’s possible to aerate and overseed in one pass.

The Aera-vator is designed to break and loosen the soil beneath the surface without destroying the turf. It creates a hole without bringing a core plug to the surface, leaving the turf ready for use immediately after treatment. The Aera-vator works best in drier ground leaving a core hole while fracturing the sub soil.

Aerate and overseed in one pass with Ventrac

Aerate and overseed in one pass with Ventrac

The National Trust’s Waddesdon Manor, managed by the Rothschild Foundation, purchased a Ventrac 4500 compact tractor and Tough Cut deck late last year and recently returned to local dealer RT Machinery to purchase additional attachments including a Turbo Blower, Landscape Rake and Aera-vator with seeder.

Peter Turski is the Horticultural Team Leader at the estate and says,

“The Aera-vator and overseeder attachment for the Ventrac is an excellent piece of equipment. We have some heavy footfall across the estate especially at our annual events such as the Christmas Fair, Colourscape in May, Summer Fest in July and Chilli Fest each September. We are one of the National Trust’s most visited properties with over 460,000 visitors, which means that the more formal grass areas around the ornamental core of the gardens can become very compacted.

“The main benefit of the Aera-vator is that it simplifies the whole operation in one pass significantly reducing the time taken to a fraction of what it used to. No soil plugs are generated, so no collection required, and the over seeding attachment works in synchronicity with the aerating implement by dropping seed directly into the fractured surface of the sward assisting good contact with the soil.”

With a working width of 1.52 metres and a depth of 70 mm, the vibrating heads create six holes every 300 mm (66 holes per square metre) with the hole size regulated by the drive speed. The slower the forward speed of the Ventrac tractor unit, the larger the hole.

With the optional Gandy Seeder, you can save time by reseeding while aerating, increasing the odds of germination for a thicker and healthier sward.

The tines can be replaced individually or by quickly changing the entire mounting heads, giving you the versatility required for efficient operation. The Aera-vator is built with the Ventrac Mount System, allowing for easy attachment changes, and comes with a standard jack stand for easy mounting.

The all-wheel-drive Ventrac 4500 is rated for slopes of up to 30 degrees and is capable of handling various turf conditions allowing aeration in areas previously inaccessible with other aeration tools.

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Ventrac at Saunton Golf Club

Ventrac at Saunton Golf Club: Saunton Golf Club, situated south of Woolacombe on the coast of north Devon, is the latest golfing venue to purchase a Ventrac 4500 all-terrain compact tractor and a selection of attachments. Delivered by local dealer, Devon Garden Machinery, the package includes the 25 hp tractor unit in its 8-wheel configuration, a Contour deck, a Tough Cut deck and Power Rake.

Formed in 1897 as a 9-hole course, the 103-year old club now has two 18-hole championship-standard links courses, with reputations that stand comparison with the finest in the UK. The East Course is ranked No.12 in the Golf World ‘Top 100 Courses in England’ and the West Course is No. 98.

Ventrac at Saunton Golf Club

Ventrac at Saunton Golf Club

Murray Long, the former Courses Manager at Sunningdale, has recently been appointed Course Manager at Saunton. Commenting on the Ventrac he said,

“We need to control bramble and scrub around the courses and we have pathways made of seashell shingle, which can become rutted and uneven over time. The practice ranges are enclosed by steep banks, which we maintain by the labour-intensive job of strimming. To tackle these issues, we needed a versatile machine and thought that a Ventrac might provide the solution.

“I first saw it during visits to BTME and then became aware of the positive feedback from respected industry professionals in our trade magazines and on social media. Following our initial enquiry to local dealer, Devon Garden Machinery, they quickly provided quotes and a demonstration, which confirmed the premise that this was the machine for us. Their service has been excellent throughout.

“Until you experience it working, it’s had to appreciate how versatile it is. We purchased the Tough Cut deck, which will help combat the bramble and scrub issue; the Contour deck will be used on the banking around the practice area and some areas of rough. The Power Rake is great attachment as it agitates the shingle, smoothing out the ruts, leaving pristine pathways.

“It will certainly increase productivity and reduce the use of machinery linked to hand/arm vibration hazard, such as strimmers. It is unique in its multi-use applications giving it extreme versatility. I have seen many machinery demonstrations but none have been as impressive as the Ventrac. Every course would benefit from having one.”

Saunton’s General Manager, Jon Sutherland added,

“As Murray has indicated, it was a very impressive demonstration. I hadn’t seen the machine before, but it quickly became apparent that not only would it increase the productivity of the greenkeeping team, but also safeguard them as well. Paul Vickery, our Chairman of Greens, attended the demonstration and we quickly made the purchasing decision. It will certainly contribute to raising the already high presentation standards of our facility, for members and visitors alike.”

Saunton has hosted the R&A Boys Amateur Championship on two occasions. In August 2019, 252 of the world’s most talented boys battled it out over our East and West Courses. After 91 holes of play, the winner Tom Gueant of France beat Wilmer Ederö from Sweden in a sudden-death play-off on the first hole of the East course. Saunton also hosted the Championship back in 1997, when a young Sergio Garcia won the title, before amassing the highest points total for Europe in Ryder Cup history, and also winning the Masters Tournament back in 2017.

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Ventrac dealer network expands

Ventrac dealer network expands: Agwood Ltd, based at Swingfield, near Dover in Kent, is the latest turf machinery dealership to join the Ventrac dealer network in the UK.

Agwood was formed by Ian Wood back in 1978. An independent company, they pride themselves on their record of exemplary customer service demonstrated by their recognition as BAGMA Approved Testers for Trailer Brakes, PUWER and LOLER Approved Installers of Tracker and Cesar Datatag and NSTS Sprayer Testers.

Ventrac dealer network expands

Ventrac dealer network expands

Commenting on the appointment, Phil Bush said,

“Since Rupert Price launched his business three years ago, the Ventrac product has really taken off in the UK. It’s a very well-made piece of equipment, yet easy to work on. It’s also very versatile because of the numerous attachments that can be mounted on it. Rupert has done a tremendous amount of groundwork in the past three years and it’s certainly paying off as our industry recognises the potential of the multi-purpose machine. We are delighted to add this remarkable brand to our product portfolio that already includes Massey Ferguson’s range of tractors, harvesting and groundcare equipment, along with Lemken, Opico and Suzuki ATVs.

Rupert Price, Managing Director of Price Turfcare, the UK and Ireland distributor of the Ventrac 4500 compact tractor, added,

“We’ve are steadily building our dealer network and only taking on reputable dealers who we believe will add value to the brand. We require our dealers to be pro-active, focussed on the product and capable of providing exceptional customer back-up and support. Agwoods’ exemplify these requirements and we’re delighted to welcome them to the Ventrac family.”

Price Turfcare’s current dealers are:

Fairways (GM) Ltd; Nairn Brown; Lairds Grass Machinery; Davies Tractors; John Osman Groundcare; Russell Group’s Groundcare Division; Sharrocks; Cheshire Turf Machinery; Fentons of Bourne; RT Machinery; Upson Mowers; Agwood Ltd; TH White Groundcare; and Devon Garden Machinery.

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Ventrac for Norse Commercial Services

Ventrac for Norse Commercial Services: Norse Commercial Services (NCS) has purchased a Ventrac 4500 all-terrain compact tractor and Tough Cut deck, through supplying dealer Ernest Doe & Sons, to help maintain the embankments of the new Broadland Northway.

The 19.5 km (12 mile) dual carriageway, formerly known as the Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NNDR) connects traffic from the eastern approaches to the northwest of the city.

Ventrac for Norse Commercial Services

Completed in April 2018 at a cost of £208 million, it has 39 km (24 miles) of embankments that have been planted with 380,000 native shrubs and trees, including gorse, oak, acer and hawthorn. Areas with no tree or shrub planting have been seeded with four differing mixes of wildflower seeds. It is these wildflower areas that the Ventrac and Tough Cut deck are maintaining.

Simon Mutten is the Head of Policy and Strategy at GYB Services, Project Co-ordinator for the NCS and lead liaison with the client, Norfolk County Council. Commenting on the new machine he said,

“The Environmental Management Plan requires a cut and rake of the wildflower sections twice a year. This is the first year that the embankments have been cut and we required a machine to work alongside our existing Roboflail, to increase productivity on the larger areas. We have 1.5 million square metres to maintain, so we were looking for something more productive to ensure that we provide best value to the client.”

Martin Adcock is Operations Manager at Norwich Norse Environmental, one of the three companies involved in the joint venture to maintain the highway, and was the person tasked with finding a solution to the maintenance issue.

“My first action was an internet search for slope mowers. Remote controlled mowers, including our Roboflail, featured prominently but productivity was an issue due to their limited width of cut. The Ventrac also featured in the search and, with its 1.7 metre cutting width and maximum speed of around 16 km an hour, it appeared that it could do the job. However, I had not heard of the machine before and was quite sceptical. I contacted our dealer, Ernest Doe, who is a trusted partner and has supplied us with groundscare equipment for many years.

“They advised that they had experience of the machine and could arrange a demonstration, which was done very quickly. Once I’d seen it in action, and had a chance to operate it myself, I realised that it would certainly do the job for us. The demo was brilliant; it tackled the embankments with ease and left a very acceptable finish. With a ground pressure of just 6 psi, it’s gentle on the newly established slopes and can be used at 30 degrees, something no other ride-on machine can achieve. We are also using it around the lagoons that take the water run-off from the road.”

Jack Adcock is the principal operator of the Ventrac and says,

“I’ve been using it for around 40 hours and both manoeuvrability and stability are excellent; it just won’t run away from you on slopes. It’s simple to use, the controls are really intuitive and maintenance is easy. The flip up deck makes it quick to clean and the double-sided blades ensure you can keep operating all-day long. Used in conjunction with our Roboflail, which can be used on slopes up to 55 degrees, we have all the right equipment to do the job and keep the highway looking really presentable.”

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Club Company’s fourth Ventrac 4500

Club Company’s fourth Ventrac 4500: The Club Company, which owns and operates 14 Country Clubs across the UK, has taken delivery of a further Ventrac 4500 compact tractor with Contour mowing deck and blower attachments. This latest combination has been delivered to Woodbury Park Hotel, Golf and Leisure near Exeter and brings the total of Ventrac machines within the group to four.

Chris Brook is the Group Courses Manager, with responsibility for all greenkeeping activities across the company. He is also the Course Manager at the company’s flagship property, Castle Royle Golf and Country Club near Reading.

Club Company's fourth Ventrac 4500

“We already have three Ventracs across the group and they have performed exceptionally well,” he said. “They are brilliant in wet conditions as they only generate 6 psi and can get out onto the course when other equipment would seriously damage the surfaces. This Ventrac at Woodbury Park is our fourth within the group, the other three being at Nizels Golf and Country Club in Kent, The Club at Meyrick Park in Bournemouth and The Tytherington near Macclesfield.

“I was quite sceptical when the machine arrived for a demonstration at Castle Royle back in 2017, but was pleasantly surprised, and delighted, at the machine’s capabilities. Considering it is under 25 hp it is remarkably powerful and can go anywhere.”

The third machine in the group was delivered to The Tytherington in 2018, where the golf course was constructed using clay spoil from the building of the housing estate back in the 1960s. The underlying clay profile can be quite wet during the winter months and difficult to maintain.

Course Manager Gareth Tucker is in his second spell with the group. He was Deputy Course Manager in 2015 before taking up the post of Course Manager at Glossop; two years later he returned in his current role.

“This is an exceptional machine combination,” he said. “Unlike some parts of the country, we had a very wet summer and it has continued into the autumn. This has created some challenges for the greenkeeping team, but the Ventrac has got us out of jail on many occasions. With its minimal ground pressure it can go out in all weather. The Contour deck is used on the semi-rough and the quality of finish for Captain’s Day this year was exceptional; we can lift the height of cut and also use it on the rough.

“The Turbine Blower attachment is very good; some years we get a gradual leaf fall in autumn, but this year we’ve had a heavy fall in a short space of time.  Add to this the wet conditions and the Ventrac has been brilliant. We can get onto the green surrounds, very close to the green edges, blow away the leaves without marking and keeping our members happy.”

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