When Neil Osborne, a partner of the family-owned caravan touring park in St Ives, Cornwall completed his research into the Ventrac package he was considering, it didn’t take long for the local dealer, Devon Garden Machinery (DGM) and the UK distributor, Price Turfcare, to spring into action.
Rob Read of DGM takes up the story:
“It all started with a call from Neil: he had already completed some in-depth research on-line and was looking for prices for a Ventrac tractor unit and a range of attachments. We had a short timescale in which to organise a demo as the end of the financial year was fast approaching.”
“I put in an urgent call to Rupert Price, the UK distributor, and a demo was scheduled for the following Thursday. Rupert, his sales demonstrator Tony Doe and myself arrived at Trevalgan with Ventrac’s 4500 tractor unit, an Aera-vator with overseeder, a Finishing mowing deck, Power Broom and Front Loader and put each attachment through its paces. This enabled Neil to see the versatility, safety and efficiency of the machine.”
“Within a couple of days, we had refined the package and secured the deal, with all the equipment delivered within 10 days of the demonstration.”
Neil Osborne added:
“The main reason I was interested in the Ventrac package was because of the ease of changing the implements safely and quickly on my own. The compact size and manoeuvrability of the machine is ideal for our busy campsite and enables me to get in to all the tight spaces.”
“The overall quality of the machine and implements are excellent. I have been very impressed by the Area-vator as this helps to relieve the compaction of the pitches caused by a five-month season of continual use by tents, caravans and motorhomes. At the end of the season, this versatile implement can also re-seed the pitch at the same time, which makes the Ventrac very time efficient and I have been more than pleased with the end result. “It also works really well to fluff the bark around the play equipment. The mower and broom attachments are regularly used and perform their tasks well. I would not hesitate in recommending Rob from DGM and Price Turfcare and look forward to dealing with them again in the future.”
About Trevalgan Touring Park
Trevalgan is an award-winning, luxury, five-star, family camping and touring park with stunning coastal and countryside views, just two miles from St Ives. The Park, which is owned and run by Neil and Annette Osborne, is surrounded by open farmland, with gorse and heather covered hills behind, and is within walking distance of the rugged and beautiful South West Coast Path.
The latest recognition for the stunning facility was made at the Cornwall Tourism Awards 2021/22, when the park was awarded Camping and Caravanning Park of the Year – Gold.
Brightlingsea Council’s Mayor, Cllr Jane Chapman, was present at the official handover of a Ventrac all-terrain compact tractor and selection of attachments at the north Essex coastal town recently. Delivered by local dealer, Upson Mowers, the equipment will be used for mowing the town’s recreation fields, maintaining local cycle paths and keeping the beach promenade free of sand and other debris.
The ever-versatile compact tractor was specified with a MU rotary mowing deck, a Power Brush and a V-blade, to provide specific solutions for some unique challenges faced by the seaside town’s council.
Cllr. Graham Steady, Portfolio holder for the town’s Western Promenade said,
“We had two demonstrations and on both occasions the council leaders were very impressed, especially with the machine’s versatility. We made a financial commitment to acquire the Ventrac and view it as major step forward in the maintenance of all council-maintained areas. We would like to thank our local dealer, Upsons and Price Turfcare, the UK distributor, for the professional manner in which they conducted the negotiations and demonstration process; they have been superb.”
“We haven’t just purchased a mower; we’ve effectively bought three different machines. During higher- than-average tides, the promenade around the children’s paddling pool can become covered with sand and shingle making it impossible for pushchairs and accessibility buggies to negotiate this area. The V-blade and Power Brush worked exceptionally well during the initial demonstration, clearing the pathway in minutes and it was a very simple decision to include it in the specification.”
Brightlingsea’s Grounds Manager, Terry Hamilton, added,
“We’ve certainly purchased a very versatile piece of kit. We’re replacing an aging triple reel mower with this Ventrac and the MU deck, which provides the same level of finish, so we’re not sacrificing quality or overall presentation. We have two recreation grounds to maintain, one of which is on clay and just above the water table, so can be very wet at certain times of the year. The Ventrac, in its eight-wheel configuration, has an exceptionally low ground pressure of just 6 psi, enabling us to mow, whatever the conditions.”
“We have a single road leading into the town including Church Hill, a steep climb with an acute bend at the top. Essex County Council have built a cycle path alongside the road to mitigate the danger to cyclists. However, it has not been regularly maintained, causing the cyclists to use the road and resulting in frustration for other road users. We have now taken responsibility for this and the Power Broom will be used to keep it debris-free and usable at all times. Another use for the Power Broom is as a scarifier; by setting the brush to a position that’s just tickling the sward, it’s possible to remove thatch build-up.”
“As part of the handover process, Upson Mowers arranged for Tom Stidder of TCS Turfcare Equipment to provide installation and familiarisation training on the day and it was superb. Tom is a turf equipment specialist with a mechanical engineering background and obviously knows the Ventrac machine, inside out. He spent over four hours with us, looking at every aspect of the machine and ensuring that we were completely comfortable with the operation of all the attachments.”
“Brightlingsea is renowned for its fishing, sailing and seaside leisure activities and attracts thousands of visitors during the summer months,” said the Mayor, Cllr. Jane Chapman. “We are proud that our green spaces, especially along the seafront and the approaches to the town, are maintained to high standards and are attractive to our residents and visitors. We could have purchased just a replacement mower, but with this Ventrac we have a multi-tasking machine, delivering best value to the town.”
Newbury & Crookham Golf Club have purchased a Ventrac 4500 all-terrain compact tractor and two mowing decks, which course manager Chris Ball says will make the greenkeeping department at the 148-year-old club even more efficient. Purchased from local dealer, T H White, the package included a Contour mowing deck and a Tough Cut deck, which will enable the greenkeeping team to work smarter and safely when maintaining the woodland margins and steep banks on 6,000-yard course.
“My team have done an exceptional job during the pandemic crisis and it is only right that we should ensure they work in complete safety, not just in these exceptional circumstances, but at all times. These two decks in conjunction with the eight-wheel tractor unit guarantee that when working on tee banks or around the reservoir, they can do so in complete safety. As a small team of just six, it’s important that we work smarter; now we can cut areas mechanically using just one person, where we previously used numerous team members with brushcutters, saving many greenkeeping hours that can now be utilised elsewhere on the course.”
“The Tough Cut deck will help us both ecologically and aesthetically, keeping the woodland floor open and encouraging more spring bulbs to flourish. We want to see carpets of bluebells in subsequent years. Also, with the Contour deck we’ll be able to maintain steeper areas on the course making the presentation even more appealing for members and visitors. We’ve only had the equipment since mid-May, but already it has proved its worth; it’s a simple, clever design, does the job and is easy to maintain.”
Chris Ball joined Woking Golf Club as an apprentice in 1994 and knew immediately that this was to be his chosen career. In 1998 he moved on to Guildford Golf Club and four years later joined Walton Heath, working under two renowned industry figures in Clive Osgood and Ian McMillan. In 2002 he joined Bearwood Lakes, where he was appointed head greenkeeper, reporting to the course manager. He has been course manager at Newbury and Crookham since 2014.
Newbury & Crookham is one of the oldest clubs in England, established in 1873. The 18-hole, par 69 golf course measures just under 6000 yards and is set amongst beautiful mature woodland. Situated on the south side of Newbury, between Greenham Common and the racecourse, the current course dates back to 1923, when the Newbury and District Club was founded. Crookham Golf Club was founded in 1873 on Greenham Common, but after it was requisitioned in 1940 by the MOD, the members were given temporary membership by their neighbours, which eventually became permanent and the club adopting its current name.
Returning from a very successful SALTEX show, Rupert Price, managing director of UK importer Price Turfcare, says that Ventrac has now been accepted as a relevant brand in the UK groundscare sector.
“At the end of the first day at the show, we were returning to the hotel and reflecting on the high level of business and number of visitors that we had seen. Honestly, we were sceptical about the possible visitor numbers prior to the show, but were very pleased with the footfall across the stand and the number of demonstration requests received. The discussion with the first visitor set the tone for the day with a demonstration arranged for late November.
“It occurred to us that we were being perceived in a different way than at previous events; we had become an accepted and credible brand in the sector. Instead of having to explain who we were and what the machine could do, we were talking to an audience who had seen it on social media, in the trade press and at events and now understood the benefits that it could bring to their business.
“For me, this change of perception was very pleasing and a testament to the efforts of the small team here at the company. They have worked tirelessly to promote and demonstrate the machine across the UK for the past six years. We have come from nowhere in 2017, when we launched at BTME and with the incredible support of the manufacturer, Venture Products Inc, we have gone from a presence of zero machines to over 200 today. The forward order book is healthy, we are getting regular shipments of machines and are now looking at larger premises for the new year.
“The atmosphere at SALTEX was very positive; people were really pleased to be meeting up with the industry again. It was just a good feeling to see customers, prospects and former colleagues in a positive environment. There were many discussions about supply chain issues, the inevitable price rises that we are all experiencing and the state of the sector, but all-in-all, it demonstrated the robustness of UK groundscare. For us, a great show!”
Iain Dye, the Courses Manager at The RAC in Woodcote Park, has taken delivery of a Ventrac 4500 with Contour deck and Tough Cut deck, to help maintain the two downland golf courses and surrounding estate.
Situated within the rolling Epsom Downs in Surrey, the Old Course, designed by the renowned William Herbert Fowler, was opened in 1915, while the Coronation Course was inaugurated in 1953, occupying the site of the club’s former New Course, which had been ploughed up during the Second World War.
Commenting recently Iain Dye said,
“I first saw the Ventrac during a demonstration at Tandridge Golf Club and although very impressed, we didn’t have the budget at the time to purchase it. However, the recent construction of our new reservoir prompted me to ask Rupert Price of Price Turfcare for demo here.
“It really comes into its own when mowing the steep sides of the retention walls. It would take a huge number of team hours to strim this area, so it’s saving a lot of time that can be used productively elsewhere on the courses.
“Apart from some utility vehicles we are a Toro fleet, but this Ventrac is unique and extremely versatile. We can use it for woodland management with the Tough Cut deck to get into the margins to clear brambles and brush. The health and safety aspect was an important factor in the purchase; nobody likes strimming at the best of times, but on steep slopes it’s a particularly onerous task. The Ventrac can operate on slopes of 30 degrees in complete safety; it seems to go anywhere!
“The Contour deck articulates well on uneven terrain, reducing scalping on high areas and we’ll be using it on our fairways during the winter to protect our fairway units from any worm casts. Also, it can go out in wet weather as the eight tyres produce only 6 psi, so it won’t mark the finer turf areas.
“We can now raise the presentation around the courses, maintaining steeper banks which we were unable to manage previously. These areas can be mown regularly and therefore become even more manageable over time.”
During the summer months Iain has a team of 27 including two Deputy Course Managers; Gary Stewart is responsible for the Old Course and Simon Glover for the Coronation Course. He also has two full-time mechanics and a mechanic/greenkeeper, who all ensure that the machinery works well at all times. He joined the RAC in June 2020 from Tandridge Golf Club, where he spent 14 years, initially as Deputy Course Manager before being promoted to Course Manager in 2013. After studying at Elmwood College, he joined the greenkeeping team on the Jubilee Course at St. Andrews in 1997 and worked on the Old Course from 2001, before moving from Scotland to take the job at Tandridge.