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Worcester GC sticks with Toro

Worcester GC sticks with Toro: Worcester Golf and Country Club, which is only a few minutes from Worcester city centre, has stuck with Toro in a bid to resolve some noise issues the club was experiencing cutting certain greens.

When course manager Karl Williams joined in at the beginning of April this year to oversee the nine-strong greenkeeping team, he knew from previous experience working with the brand that Toro was the right fit for the job and had the right range of machines to make a difference.

Worcester GC sticks with Toro

Worcester GC sticks with Toro

The new deal includes two Greensmaster eTriFlex 3360 hybrid riding greens mowers and four Greensmaster 1021 fixed-head greens mowers – keeping it an all-Toro club when it comes to frontline mowing equipment – as well as a GreensPro 1260 riding greens roller.

These machines were carefully selected to help solve some issues the club was experiencing by being in an urban location. The eTriFlex 3360 hybrid greensmowers were particularly important to appease noise complaints the club had received over the years when cutting certain greens at certain times. This model utilises all-electric components so it’s so much quieter and more efficient than its petrol predecessor. And with no hydraulic fluid, leaks are minimised, making it a greener option for any turfcare maintenance business.

Karl explains: “These hybrid models sound like a golf buggy when in stealth-mode travel. This keeps our residential neighbours happy and means the team can now start work earlier on the course and get the job done ahead of golfers, all the while being the environmentally-friendly option.

“It’s so efficient too; not only can the lads get out earlier, but they are done quicker. We’re a very busy club – we have around 700 golf members and 300 tennis members – so we need to stay productive and efficient, and these machines allow us to do just that.”

In addition, the GreensPro 1260 roller is the first roller the club has had the pleasure of using and leaves a smooth and precise finish for the ultimate playing surface. Karl explains: “I can cut the greens at a higher height of cut, which is heathier for the grass plant and also still achieves the greens’ speed the golfers require”.

With the new fleet getting the seal of approval from the greenkeeping team, the course neighbours and the golfers, Karl has a few more plans in store that involve future purchases of Toro machinery: alongside some general course improvements is a three-to-four-year plan for a full bunker renovation and a seven-to-10-year plan of tree layout redesign.

He says: “I think the clubs that invest, like Worcester Golf and Country Club with the course improvements and new kit, are the ones that are going to thrive,” he says. “Members just want to see value for their money and I think the phrase ‘you must spend money to make money’ is true – clubs that can afford to invest will be the ones that profit.”

Choosing Toro was, for Karl, the natural option: “I’ve always favoured Toro, for me it is an all-round package. The quality is there so it was something that we wanted to continue with. Longevity was also a factor; I’ve had mowers still mowing in their 20th year. Toro machines hold their value when it comes to trade ins. We don’t have much trouble with them, we mainly only require spare parts from general wear and tear. So, Toro is still very much the market leader for me.

“During my time in the industry, it’s been my preferred manufacturing brand and yes, the club will be staying that way going forward, with a fleet refresh over the next four to five years.”

Karl also credits the positive relationship with Reesink and area service centre Redtech Machinery Ltd. for the seamless purchasing process and ongoing support.

“At previous clubs where I was course manager, we had good relationships with Reesink (way back when it was Lely) and also with the Toro service centre Redtech,” Karl explains. “I’ve dealt with them for the past 20 years I‘ve been greenkeeping and I can’t speak highly enough of them. Their service is second to none and I think that’s 50 percent of what’s important when you buy a machine – you need to know that backup and support are there, reliable and ready to serve your needs.”

To talk to someone about Toro technology and how the Toro range would suit your course, call 01480 226800.

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Plan ahead with 4turf®

Plan ahead with 4turf®: While we may be heading towards the traditionally cooler and winter months, the changing climate means that Turf Managers are not only having to consider the immediate pressures – but those likely to lay ahead as spring arrives and new season growth begins.

As spring and summer droughts become more common, and water becomes a more valuable resource, turf managers need to consider ways of maintaining lush green grass all summer long. The solution could well be in the form of DLF’s drought-tolerant 4turf® tetraploid range.

Plan ahead with 4turf®

Plan ahead with 4turf®

Not all droughts are the same. More common in Northern Europe, spring droughts occur when, despite the lack of rain, water remains available in the deeper layers of soil. During a summer drought, even the deeper layers of the profile have run dry and the simultaneous higher temperatures mean the grass above ground has to be able to withstand dehydration. While summer droughts are typical of southern Europe, they are now increasingly being seen further North.

DLF’s 4turf® eases the pressure on turf managers. Rooting fast and deep, tetraploid varieties like Fabian, Double, Tetrastar, Tetragame, Tetramagic, Tetradry, and Tetragreen are more likely to survive a spring drought and are better placed to stay green and playable should a summer drought follow. Years of testing at DLF’s state-of-the-art root-screening facility in Denmark demonstrated how, compared to diploid ryegrasses, 4turf® has quicker root growth and develops a larger root mass in the upper layer of the soil, making it an excellent springtime seed. In summer trials, conducted in France and the Czech Republic, it also remained green when the plants were starved of water above-ground.

It’s ability to withstand drought-like conditions means that 4turf® has a wide range of applications. On golf course fairways, for example, where irrigation is often not an option, overseeding with 4turf® produces a better-quality summer turf. The principles could also be applied to sports facilities, parks and ornamental lawns in public locations, where turf needs to sustain more playing hours, with less time spent on watering or maintenance.

4turf® is available in a number of mixtures from across the Masterline and Johnsons Sports Seed Ranges including J Rye Fairway, J Outfield and J 4Turf – the ideal choice for overseeding programmes on winter sports pitches and racecourses, establishing in temperatures as low as four degrees.

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Catch up with DLF at SALTEX

Catch up with DLF at SALTEX: Turf professionals from across the sports and landscaping sectors can look forward to a refresher on ‘all things seed’ with a stop by the DLF stand at SALTEX 2021.

Returning this November to stand J052, the DLF Technical Team will be on hand to discuss their vast portfolio of specialist mixtures from both the Johnsons Sports Seed and Masterline ranges, along with the latest developments in their research and breeding programmes.

Catch up with DLF at SALTEX

Catch up with DLF at SALTEX

For sports turf, 2021 saw the introduction of a number of new formulations and cultivars into the Johnson’s range, most notably Tetragame – from the DLF 4Turf® Tetraploid Perennial Ryegrass stable. With sustainability an increasingly key consideration for turf managers, Tetragame delivers significantly improved disease resistance and sward recovery along with strong germination and establishment at temperatures as low as 4oc. Tetragame features in Johnsons J Outfield, together with J 4Turf and J 4Turf 100 – delivering the strength and durability demanded for winter sport and equestrian use.

With mixtures created for both professional sports and landscaping, the Masterline range continues to offer unrivalled choice to managers of amenity surfaces. The Masterline range incorporates high performance cultivars for reliable results and exceptional value. With a focus on sustainability, PM82 Microclover Sport incorporates unique Microclover to provide enhanced growth and wear tolerance with significantly reduced herbicide, fungicide and fertiliser requirements making PM82 an ideal choice for local authorities and school pitches.

The DLF team will be available across the two days to discuss both the seeds and the science as, behind the scenes, work is ongoing across their worldwide breeding network – particularly in the area of disease resistance. Changing management models of maintenance and plant nutrition combined with shifts in weather patterns are largely believed to be the triggers for an increase in the occurrence of some less commonly seen turf diseases affecting winter sports venues – namely Brown Patch and Grey Leaf Spot. With screening programmes complete and in-field testing not too far away, developments are on the way to ensure that what goes into the bag continues to be at the high standards that the industry demands.

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Dennis & SISIS partner with Bowls England

Dennis & SISIS partner with Bowls England: Dennis & SISIS and Bowls England have announced a new five-year partnership which is aimed at improving playing surfaces, increasing participation and helping to safeguard the future of the sport.

Passionate about helping everyone get the most out of the sport, Bowls England recently unveiled a new strategy, ‘Fit For The Future’, which has been designed with the ultimate goal of getting more people playing and enjoying bowls.

However, to entice more people into the sport, there must be a focus on the playing conditions; and this is where Dennis and SISIS come in according to Bowls England’s Chief Executive Jon Cockcroft.

“What is absolutely critical for us is that the bowling greens up and down the country are in superb condition for people to play on,” he said. “Over recent years there has been more strain on our clubs, and the challenges of maintaining greens are becoming greater.

Consequently, this partnership with Dennis and SISIS will allow us to support our clubs, and our amazing volunteers, who work tirelessly to look after the greens.

“The partnership will add value to our members and ultimately improving the quality of the surfaces is going to make the playing experience better which will help grow our game and get more people playing bowls.”

Also committed to educating greenkeepers and raising the standards of bowling greens, Dennis and SISIS have long supported the sport of bowls. For over 20 years, they have been organising and hosting educational maintenance seminars throughout the country which are designed to ultimately help club greenkeepers and volunteers maintain their bowling greens.

The pandemic inevitably put a temporary halt to the seminars and as a result the two British manufacturers launched an innovative Virtual Bowling Green Maintenance Seminar Portal. The free online portal was an instant success bringing seminars to a much wider audience and also allowing members to benefit from a wealth of knowledge.

Roger Moore, Sales and Marketing Manager for Dennis and SISIS revealed his delight at the new partnership.

“The sport of bowls has played an important part in the history of Dennis and SISIS,” he said. “We want to be associated with Bowls England particularly at such an exciting time as they launch their five-year strategy.

“The plan is to continue next year with the live seminars and provide access to Bowls England members to the online seminar portal, which has monthly updates from experts, funding opportunities, and access to other partners. Whether you are an experienced greenkeeper or new to the industry the portal is an invaluable resource.

“The partnership will allow both parties to explore and develop other initiatives going forward and we hope we can play a part helping Bowls England’s achieve their goals It also allows us to give something back towards the future growth and sustainability of the bowls market.”

The partnership comes ahead of an exciting year for both Dennis and SISIS and Bowls England; 2022 marks the centenary year for the Dennis brand and it is also the year of the of the Commonwealth Games, in which the greens at Victoria Park in Leamington (also the home of Bowls England) will host the bowls tournament.

“There is a wonderful synergy to this partnership,” continued Jon. “Firstly – heritage; the heritage of our sport and the heritage of the Dennis and SISIS brands. Secondly, both have an appetite for quality. Thirdly, bowls as a sport and the Dennis and SISIS brands are quintessentially British; and last but certainly not least, both Bowls England and Dennis and SISIS have a desire to give back to communities. It is a perfect partnership.”

For further information please contact Dennis and SISIS on 01332 824 777

Further information about the range of maintenance products available can be found by visiting www.dennisuk.com / www.sisis.com

For more news, reviews and insightful views, you can follow Dennis on Twitter and Instagram @DennisMowers and SISIS @SISISMachinery You can like the Facebook page – www.facebook.com/DennisMowersUK and www.facebook.com/SISISMachinery

You can also view the latest Dennis and SISIS videos by visiting www.youtube.com/DennisMowers and www.youtube.com/SISISMachinery

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Kubota announces OEM partnership with MX

Kubota announces OEM partnership with MX: Kubota has announced a strategic OEM partnership with French manufacturer MX to supply loaders for the M series tractor range throughout Europe.

The agreement covers all M-series models including the M4003, M5002, MGX-IV, M6002 and M7003 models, spanning 66-170hp.

Kubota announces OEM partnership with MX

Kubota announces OEM partnership with MX

For Kubota (UK), this agreement is expected to significantly increase sales by providing a comprehensive materials-handling solution which is available to order exclusively through Kubota’s dealer network. Importantly for customers, it offers the convenience of combining tractor, loader and attachments, in one integrated solution.

“This agreement makes it much easier for customers to choose a tractor and high-performance loader package that closely suits their needs,” said Henry Myatt, product marketing manager for Kubota’s M-series tractor portfolio.

“MX-built Kubota loaders are finished in our familiar orange livery to compliment the look of the Kubota tractor range, providing an integrated materials handling solution for all M-series tractors,” he said.

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S&C partner with PRO Padel Courts

S&C partner with PRO Padel Courts: Renowned sports construction specialist S&C Slatter is partnering with PRO Padel Courts to serve up first-class facilities for the fast-growing sport in England and Wales

The unique partnership combines the sports construction expertise of S&C Slatter with the innovation and craftsmanship of PRO Padel Courts, providing schools, universities, and clubs with a high-quality padel solution designed and manufactured specifically for Britain’s climate.

S&C partner with PRO Padel Courts

S&C partner with PRO Padel Courts

Leading experts in sports facility planning, design, construction and maintenance, S&C Slatter work at all levels of the education, sports, and leisure sectors, with clients including Charterhouse School, the AELTC and Royal Holloway University.

Jason Douglass, S&C Slatter Group Director, commented:

“With a commitment to work with the very best manufacturing partners in our industry, we are delighted to be partnering with PRO Padel Courts for padel court construction in England and Wales. We strive for constant innovation in both traditional and emerging sports, such as padel. We’re thrilled to be able to offer clients a one-stop solution for their padel needs, from initial design to planning, finance, construction and maintenance.”

PRO Padel Courts are the UK’s premier padel court producer, working with clients such as The Roehampton Club and The Bourne Club. Offering the only courts on the market designed and manufactured in the UK, for use in the UK, PRO Padel courts are specifically built to withstand British weather, utilising specialist weather-proofing and British steel and glass for superior performance, durability, and safety.

Paul Regan, Founder, PRO Padel Courts, commented:

“We are excited to be partnering with S&C Slatter, who have a first-class reputation built around the quality of their work over many years. We have many shared values and both parties pride themselves on delivering the best quality products and services to their clients. It is also imperative that our high quality padel court structures are placed on expertly constructed groundworks – and we know we can guarantee this with S&C Slatter.”

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Wet Sand no issue with Dakota 412

Wet Sand no issue with Dakota 412: As the most northern links golf course on the United Kingdom mainland, having a top dresser that can spread wet sand like the Dakota 412 from Campey Turf Care Systems is a must at Scotland’s Reay Golf Club. 

The James Braid designed course is positioned on the edge of Sandside Bay with views of the Pentland Firth and the North Atlantic from every hole. The course and its stunning views have been under the control of Head Greenkeeper Jason Norwood, since March 2021, with the new man aiming to put his stamp on the course, starting with the greens.

Wet Sand no issue with Dakota 412

Wet Sand no issue with Dakota 412

As the sole full-time member of staff for the main 18-hole course and junior three-hole, Jason’s priority is the greens, with volunteers giving up two days a week to assist with the fairways and roughs. The limited time available to Jason needs to be spent working, and with the Dakota 412, he’s able to top-dress as and when he needs to regardless of the sand moisture.

“I’ve tried to put my own stamp on things here with different types of machinery and different ways of working, and the club has really been on board with that, and one of those things has been buying the new Dakota top dresser,” Jason explains.

“The equipment we originally had couldn’t cope well with wet sand; it was more of a large-scale fertiliser spreader. As you can imagine at the top of Scotland, there’s a lot of rain about so any sand that we do have is normally quite wet, so that was one of the main features of the Dakota for us because it can deal with that quite easily and we still get a good even spread with it.

“We really want to push forward and make use of the North Coast 500 tourist route, which is literally on our doorstep; it passes directly in front of us, so we get a lot of passing visitors now, and I think all year-round performing greens are the main thing golfers are after on a golf course so it’s making sure that we can provide that for them.

“We’ve had the machine since the middle of April, but because of the weather chances to get it out have been limited. I’ve trialled different settings on our junior course greens to get what we want for the main course, and it’s been good so far.

“With it having four wheels the weight is distributed incredibly well, so it doesn’t leave a mark on the greens, and the first time I used it you’d have no idea that anything had been done or any heavy equipment had been over the greens it because the footprint was minimal.”

The Dakota 412 features accurate and easy to operate calibration with no manual adjustment and has four Ultra-Trac turf tyres on independent floating beam axels for maximum weight distribution, allowing Jason to work without causing viable disruption to the surface.

As part of Campey’s installation, and to help Jason get the most out of the machine, Campey Product Specialist, Richard Heywood, walked him through the various settings and features, which Jason views as an invaluable experience.

Jason explains: “Because we are so far north, there is a lot more to consider when ordering machinery. Something that was great for me was being supplied through my machinery dealer Double A with support from Campey by sending Richard to demonstrate how to use the top dresser to the best of its abilities. This proved invaluable to me not having used one before.

“He went through it all, explained what all the different settings were, how to adjust it all, and that was vital. Having someone who knows how to operate it fully really maximises its performance and helps us get the best out of the machine.”

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Plain sailing with Toro

Plain sailing with Toro: As a prestige club with a proud history of hosting international tournaments, Nairn Golf Club, situated in the Highlands of Scotland, has yet again renewed its lease agreement with Toro, taking its fleet of machines to 22.

Nestled on the shore of the Moray Firth, the club is well versed in maintaining immaculate playing surfaces and requires an extensive fleet of mowers to support the work of its 14-strong greenkeeping team.

Plain sailing with Toro

Plain sailing with Toro

As well as having various pieces of Toro grass cutting machinery to maintain different cutting heights around the two courses, the fleet contains Workman MDX utility vehicles, sprayers, turf-irons and Pro-Core 648 aerators. Nairn is also one of the first Scottish clubs to take delivery of Toro’s Greensmaster e-Triflex 3370 riding greens mower, the industry’s first and all-electric ride-on mower.

Course manager, Richie Ewan, comments: “The performance and quality of the Toro mowers is second to none, but we are especially impressed with the electric ride-on. The cut is tremendous; as good if not better than a cut with a pedestrian mower. Plus making that step towards electric is a big environmental statement by the club.

“The machines are in daily use over both courses – our 18-hole Championship Course and the 9-hole Cameron Course – and both must be in pristine condition at all times. We have our own micro-climate in the Moray Firth, but the extreme challenges of the weather are definitely increasing and we know the Toro machinery is very reliable and user-friendly, making them a dream for our team to work with.

“Last year, 34,000 rounds of golf were played over our Championship Course despite intermittent lockdowns, and 39,000 rounds were played in 2019. We are busy with member and visitor play and we need a suite of machinery we can trust.”

As well as having hosted a raft of prestigious tournaments including the Walker Cup and the Curtis Cup, Nairn Golf Club has just played host to The British Amateur Championship for the second time, the first being in 1994. The Greensmaster e-Triflex 3370 mowers were in operation during the tournament, a first for this prestigious event and successful in producing the highest quality of cut.

During and in preparation for these events the club relies on the Toro equipment more than ever, as Richie explains: “We depend on quality machines to prepare and present the playing surfaces to the highest standard and it’s important that our members and visitors see the fleet in action to understand our commitment to high standards.

“Golf is most definitely growing in popularity after the experiences of the pandemic, with more people keen to take up outdoor pursuits. Plus flexible working hours has provided an opportunity to squeeze a game of golf into your working day. There was a time when courses were quiet over winter but now there is demand for playable surfaces all year-round, whatever the weather. It’s booming and our Toro fleet continues to grow with us.”

As part of the agreement, Nairn Golf Club is supported with back-up care from Reesink Turfcare’s Scotland branch.

Speaking of the relationship, Richie concludes: “With Toro you always have confidence that there’s nothing that can’t be resolved. You’re never on your own with the product and the back-up care and tournament support over many years has been excellent. We have been using Toro since the early 90s and we are delighted to have signed yet another renewal agreement.”

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The school with its own sports village

The school with its own sports village: There is a school in North Yorkshire which marches to its own beat. Celebrating the individual is at the heart of its ethos, with academic results to back-up its unique approach.

Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate, in Thorpe Underwood, half-way between York and Harrogate, is one of most prestigious schools in the country.

The school with its own sports village

The school with its own sports village

In a trail blazing move in 2015 the school invested heavily in a new multi-million-pound Sports Village on the campus. Well, six years on that Sports Village is now well established, offering Queen Ethelburga’s pupils some of the finest facilities to be found anywhere and attracting top level professional teams for summer training.

The man whose role is to maintain the spectacular range of pitches and continually improve what is in place is someone whose own CV contains some of the biggest names and finest sporting venues around.

Ben Grigor was attracted by “a big advert” posted by Queen Ethelburga’s in the trade press and decided that what was on offer was an opportunity too good to miss.

“From memory it showed the pitches under construction,” recalled Ben.

“It very much looked like a job which would be a dream come true for whoever got it – to be building something from scratch ,” added the man whose CV contains the names of Rangers, at both Murray Park and Ibrox, and SIS Pitches, for which he was part of the early preparations for the Luzhniki Stadium, venue for the 2018 World Cup final, as well as other top sporting venues.

Having secured his interview, Ben’s approach during questioning was, to say the least, “high risk”.

“The CEO asked what I thought of the newly laid pitches. I’d had a walk round earlier in the day and picked up on a few things. So I said, ‘Can I be honest?’ When she agreed, I told her that actually the natural pitches needed improving.”

When constructed, the clay topsoil had been removed to install the drainage and the irrigation and then that original soil was put back on top.

“You are not going to get a high-performance pitch built on clay.

Ben’s honest assessment was taken in the spirit it was intended and the job was his. Things have not looked back since.

The school with its own sports village

The school with its own sports village

“We agree a budget at the beginning of the year and we then get on with it,” said Ben, tempting fate by adding that he hadn’t had a complaint in five years.

On day one Ben arrived with no staff and no equipment, but it was building the right team which was his priority.

“Machinery is only as good as the people using it. So, I wanted a good team. I set up the rotas and procedures at a level that you would expect at a top-level training ground or stadium,” said Ben.

“I needed people who weren’t concerned when told that they weren’t going to get a day off in July, when we might have Newcastle United or England Ladies here doing double training sessions. I needed a team who were happy to be going in at 7am and finishing at 8pm and enjoying doing the work for the teams.”

“I’ve got a fantastic team now, many of them have worked at stadiums in the Premier League environment,” said Ben.

With the closure of schools as part of the Government enforced lockdown, Ben placed himself on flexible furlough during the pandemic to enable him to spend more time with his children in Glasgow, but also to make more working hours available to his guys.

“I was very conscious of their own circumstances.”

As to the machinery, there may be some manufacturers kicking themselves for not paying more attention when Ben put his requirements out to tender.

“I’d created a list of our needs and specifications. For example, what we needed from a tractor – air con, number of kilos it would need to lift, the width etc. The Toro Pro Core was the only one that had a company name attached to it.

“I put it out to all the main names in the industry but only a couple got back to me at the time. Perhaps they thought we were just a small school!”

Ben works to ensure the team is getting the best deal long-term as his purchase of a Koro proves, “We started Koroing pitches in-house, when timings suit us best.

It paid for itself very quickly when set against bringing in contractors to do the work.”

Ben has taken on board a working practice that he first experienced when a young greenkeeper at Crow Wood Golf Club, just outside Glasgow.

“The two other greenkeepers and I were given our own six holes to look after and it created great competition between the three of us. You always take pride in what is yours. So here the guys have their own pitches to look after.

If there is a limited amount of fertiliser left they will ask if they can have it for their pitches and that creates a bit of healthy argument about who gets it,” said Ben.

Having teams set up training camps during the 10 weeks of the summer break is very much part of the estates commercial offer.

The school with its own sports village

The school with its own sports village

“Last summer when teams couldn’t go abroad, we hosted Newcastle United here. I think the team may have had reservations about coming to a school, but they were amazed at the quality of our facilities. So much so that they are looking to return again this year, if they are training in country again.” said Ben, who added that Leeds United also used the facilities while their own training ground was being renovated.

Queen Ethelburga’s facilities include five artificial pitches and a workout area, constructed by S&C Slatter; a five-a-bay cricket practice net facility; two multi-games areas for football, basketball and netball, a larger multi-games area for netball, tennis and basketball, a water-based hockey pitch. Every pitch is floodlit to a standard good enough for HD filming.

“We’ve also got three underwater treadmills, ice bath recovery and a sport science area. The CEO visited St George’s Park to see what was there before the project started.

Our facilities are equal to many of those in the Premiership.”

So why does Queen Ethelburga’s have such stunning sporting facilities, and what was the catalyst for investment such a vast sum of money?

Well, the school threw its hat into the ring in 2013 to be training base for one of the Rugby Union World Cup 2015 finalists only to be knocked back because the facilities weren’t up to the required standard.

“We were told that we were a lovely place but that our facilities were not up to it. All we were at the time was a traditional school playing field with no irrigation or anything else in place. They said that the accommodation and everything else required was great.” explained Ben.

While the new facilities have helped to maximise the sporting talents of some to move into the professional game, the ethos of Queen Ethelburga’s is very much to enhance the talents of their own students, right from nursery age, rather than to bring in pupils who have already been identified as having sporting potential.

One of those is certainly 17 year-old Jason Qareqare, who made a huge impact on his debut for Castleford Tigers against Hull. With his very first touch in professional rugby league, and less than a minute into the match he scored a brilliant try – a try you could say born on the playing fields of Queen Ethelburga’s.

Speaking with Ben you very much get a feeling of a man not only on top of his job but relishing the challenge of meeting the expectations of an ambitious school, prepared to invest in making itself the best it can be.

And while the career ladder for an ambitious groundsman might see a top school as a stopping off point on the way to a high-profile professional club, the job of a Head of Grounds at a top school can be very much a career pinnacle.

“Initially I think there were reservations by the school about how long I would stay, but I really I can’t see myself going anywhere else,” admitted Ben.

The improvements to the school pitches, which were the subject of Ben’s honest feedback at his interview, have been built and improved on as part of a planned phased programme.

The school with its own sports village

The school with its own sports village

“We’ve been rejuvenating the surfaces. As I say they were clay-based and while they had put in sand bands it wasn’t enough, so what we’ve been doing is stripping the surfaces off and replacing them with a sand profile on the surface.

“It has meant a fair amount of time and investment, but I’m pleased to say that they trusted me.

“Once we’d done the first pitch, the benefits were clear,” said Ben, whose aim is to get every pitch to the same level across the complex.

Much of the renovation work was carried out last year, whilst the campus had to remain closed to all but key worker students, but now the aim is to have all the pitches back and available all year.

“The school is our primary focus.

We want the teachers to be happy and we want the students to be happy with the service we provide.”

While Queen Ethelburga’s might have been ahead of the pack when investing in their facilities, other schools have since followed suit.

“What we achieved, nobody else was even considering, we were ahead of our time. We’ll need to keep being dedicated to continuous improvement though, to remain at the top of our game.”

That’s Queen Ethelburga’s. Always marching to that beat of its own drum.

Potters Point keeps pace with new technology

Potters Point keeps pace with new technology: Having been loyal to John Deere for the past 25 years, it was perhaps no surprise which brand would be chosen to upgrade the existing golf and turf maintenance fleet at Potters Point holiday and golf resort in County Wicklow.

Overlooking the idyllic Brittas Bay on Ireland’s east coast, south of Dublin, Potters Point is an exclusive luxury mobile home park owned by the Stone family and was established in 1957. Guests that are lucky enough to stay there have free access to the nine-hole parkland golf course extending to 40 acres that was developed in 1987.

Potters Point keeps pace with new technology

Potters Point keeps pace with new technology

When the existing John Deere equipment fleet was due to be updated, Potters Point manager Irene Lacey called on dealer Dublin Grass Machinery to supply the range of new machines. These include an 8700A PrecisionCut fairway mower, 2653B PrecisionCut utility triplex mower, 2550E hybrid electric triplex greens mower, 220SL walk-behind greens mower, two 3039R compact tractors and three HPX 815E Gator utility vehicles.

“We bought our first John Deere machines in 1997 and have used the brand ever since,” says Irene. “These new models have replaced older equipment, as we want to keep the fleet as fresh and new as possible and equipped with the latest technology, and we are very pleased with them.

“There is great security in having new equipment and therefore no worries about breakdowns. The machines are now all working very efficiently both on the course and in the holiday park.”

The local John Deere golf and turf dealer, Dublin Grass Machinery (DGM), was established in 1981 and is now led by managing director Robert Mitchell. Having enjoyed such a long-term relationship with the dealership, Potters Point relies on DGM for its essential backup service.

“Our equipment has always been fully serviced by Dublin Grass Machinery, and we have found the team there over the years to be very efficient and reliable,” says Irene. “Their backup service is second to none – getting anything repaired or replaced is always done in a very timely manner. DGM has proved to be a very good partner to have in this business.”

Potters Point has plans to invest in additional John Deere equipment, particularly to replace a larger tractor that has been working faithfully at the resort since the very first machines were ordered in 1997.

“Having enjoyed such a long relationship with Potters Point, we were naturally very pleased to be asked to supply them with this new machinery package,” adds Robert Mitchell. “We appreciate their business and will continue to provide Irene and head greenkeeper Eamonn Delaney and his team with first class after-sales support.”

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