Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk (6 April 2021) 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;
“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.
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk (12 February 2020) The Rothschild Foundation has purchased a Ventrac 4500 all-terrain compact tractor and Tough Cut mowing deck from supplying dealer, RT Machinery Ltd, to help maintain the gardens and grounds at Waddesdon Manor near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. The Foundation manages Waddesdon on behalf of the National Trust.
Mike Buffin is Gardens Managerat Waddesdon and heads a team of 14 full-time gardeners and four students on one-year assignments. His impressive CV includes working at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, the University of Pennsylvania, the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and National Trust. The gardens department manages over 400 acres at Waddesdon.
“We have wildflower meadows dotted around the estate, many on challenging slopes,” he said. “I’m attempting a change to the direction of our maintenance regimes, looking to get more versatility from our equipment and taking a more environmental approach, where possible.
“There’s a broad expanse of lawn at the front of the house, which takes a lot of wear at our annual events, such as the Christmas Fair, Colourscape in May, Summer Fest in July and Chilli Fest each September. The initial demo highlighted the benefits of the Aera-vator in relieving the compaction and the overseeding attachment worked particularly well. However, it was on the wildflower banks where the machine really came into its own. It was a wet day and the Tough Cut deck performed admirably in these challenging areas. We have been using several different mowers to achieve the high level of presentation expected at Waddesdon. The versatility of the Ventrac has simplified this and it is now one of our principal mowers.
“RT Machinery have been excellent and the ability to hire-in attachments means we have the opportunity to undertake an extended evaluation to enable us to draw up a shortlist of attachments for future purchase. It’s the ideal machine for us because of its versatility, the ease of changing attachments and its slope mowing capabilities.”
Waddesdon Manor was built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild between 1874 and 1885 to display his collection of arts and to entertain the fashionable world. Opened to the public in 1959, Waddesdon Manor is managed by the Rothschild Foundation on behalf of the National Trust, who took over ownership in 1957. It’s home to the Rothschild Collection of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts.
The estate includes the Dairy, a beautiful and historic 19th century building, used exclusively as a wedding venue; the Five Arrows Hotel, Windmill Hill Archive and Flint House, a domestic dwelling commissioned by Lord Rothschild and completed in 2015, winning that year’s RIBA House of the Year Award.
Fentons of Bourne, Price Turfcare’s local dealer for Lincolnshire and the East Midlands, won the Best Allied Trade Stand award at the Midlands Machinery Show held at Newark Showground on 20-21 November.
The Midlands Machinery Show is one of the fastest-growing annual events in the agricultural sector, bringing together farmers, agricultural contractors, and suppliers in a friendly and relaxed business environment. Over 300 exhibitors were displaying products and service in the covered halls, with the larger products situated outside on the showground.
Fentons of Bourne in conjunction with Price Turfcare, created a demonstration area where visitors could see displays highlighting the versatility of the tractor unit and associated attachments. The demonstration arena featured two Ventrac all-terrain compact tractors and 14 different attachments including a selection of mowing decks, trencher, stump grinder, blowers, power brushes, power rakes and more.
Glen Bellamy, managing director of Fentons said, “We were delighted and surprised to win this award. At mid-afternoon a team of show organisers turned up, mid-demonstration, and presented us with the award. Rupert Price and his team put in a lot of effort to make the demonstrations meaningful for the attendees and there was considerable interest in the products. The Ventrac was probably the smallest machine on display amongst all the large agricultural machinery, but it certainly punched above its weight.”
Rupert Price added, “We were invited to attend the show in conjunction with Fentons and it was too good an opportunity to pass by. It gave us some brilliant exposure for both the product and the brand to a new audience and that was our main aim. However, it did more than that; we came away with demo requests and the icing on the cake was winning the award.
“Although tiny by comparison to some of the huge tractors and other agricultural equipment, the visitors readily appreciated the design features of our machine and the fact that it can generate such consistent power from a sub-25 hp engine. I think they were also impressed with its manoeuvrability and versatility.
Definitely a very good event for us and it made two days standing outside in the cold, well worthwhile.”
– Trevose Golf & Country Club, situated five miles west of Padstow in Cornwall, is the latest business to appreciate the benefits of owning a Ventrac 4500 compact tractor and attachments. Delivered by local dealer Devon Garden Machinery, the package included the Ventrac 4500 compact tractor, a Contour mowing deck and Power Rake.
Owned by the Gammon family, Trevose is one of Cornwall’s premier golf destinations with 36 holes of golf including the 18-hole Championship course, the 9-hole Headland course and a 9-hole short course. The Championship course was designed by Harry Colt in 1925 and has recently undergone extensive renovations under the work of architects Mackenzie & Ebert. In recent years it has hosted The Brabazon Trophy (2008), The McGregor Trophy (2012) and the English Men’s County Finals (2017). In June this year it is the venue of a Staysure Tour event – the Farm Foods European Legends Links Championship.
Neil Ivamy is the Course Manager and heads a team of 13 greenkeepers. Explaining the decision for the addition to his fleet he said, “We were in the market for a semi-rough mower and Vic Robinson, the Area Manager for Devon Garden Machinery suggested that we look at the Ventrac. I had my doubts initially as I was worried that the width of cut was slightly less than our existing pod mower, which would put significant time on the mowing operations across the three courses. However, the manoeuvrability of the machine was fantastic, reducing turning times and cutting areas we would normally have to strim, leading to improved overall productivity. We had two demonstrations and when these were concluded, I realised that my doubts were unfounded; the finish was excellent. The Ventrac is very versatile; it’s not just a mower. We purchased the Power Rake attachment in the package and that’s how I justified it to management; we can use it to enhance the appearance of the entire property, not just the golf courses.
The Power Rake is a great attachment and can reinstate pathways very easily and without the need to import new material to fill potholes. We have numerous paths around the property and it certainly reduces the maintenance hours. We also use the it when reinstating our turf nursery to rotovate the soil before reseeding. Although we didn’t purchase the Tough Cut deck or the Power Broom, they both performed superbly on demonstration and I will certainly be looking at them in the future. “The machine performs brilliantly on slopes; it can work safely up to 30 degrees, and we are now maintaining banked areas more frequently, including some that would only be strimmed twice a year. We can attach our Wiedenmann TerraRake to the rear 3-point linkage and rake the clippings to the bottom of the slopes for easier collection. Without doubt, this is a very versatile machine.”
Neil began his career at the age of 14 while still at school, working weekends in the Pro-Shop and with the greenkeeping team at nearby Merlin Golf Club, before joining on a permanent basis when he left full-time education. In the winters of 2003 and 2007 he played club cricket in Perth, western Australia and on his return spent two years in the landscaping industry. He joined Trevose as an assistant greenkeeper in 2009, was promoted to deputy course manager in 2012 and course manager in 2015.