The owners of Dudsbury Golf Club, Hotel & Spa, Beate and Len Robinson, have supported long-serving head greenkeeper Warren Moss with the purchase of a Ventrac 4500 all-terrain compact tractor and Contour mowing deck to ensure the course stays in pristine condition. Replacing an old zero-turn machine and an ageing Toro Sidewinder, the new package makes sound commercial sense.
Commenting at the recent handover of the equipment Warren Moss said,
“We have an ageing fleet and we need to be smarter in how we purchase equipment in the future. The owners were very supportive when I made the business case and we are replacing two machines with one. Because of its versatility, we can add more attachments at a fraction of the cost of purchasing new dedicated equipment, so we should be able to upgrade more cost effectively, when we need to.
“I’d seen the media reports and watched some YouTube videos and even arranged a demo a couple of years ago. We had another demo recently, this time with the Contour deck and it performed extremely well. We use it on tee banks, green surrounds, bunker surrounds and can raise the height of cut to manage the semi-rough. Also, as it has a three-point linkage at the rear, we can mount our Sisis Twin Play with sorrel roller and slitter.
“My main reason for specifying this machine is its slope climbing ability. It’s extremely stable on slopes of up to 30 degrees, making it safe and manoeuvrable, especially on tees. About a third of the course is on a flood plain, so can be quite wet in winter. Because of its light footprint in its eight-wheel configuration we will be able to get out during wet spells without damaging the playing surfaces. I’m also impressed by the Aera-vator attachment, which makes aeration on banks possible, so this might possibly be our next purchase.”
Set in 160 acres of undulating Dorset countryside just outside of Bournemouth, the Donald Steel-designed 6,904-yard, par 71 championship course features nine lakes and is bordered by the river Stour. It has hosted several prestigious events including the PGA Europro Tour, which featured on Sky Sports and the BMW PGA Order of Merit Championship. Warren Moss, who heads a team of six, has been at the club for the past 12 years, the last six as Head Greenkeeper. He started his career at Yeovil Golf Club, where he attended Cannington College and enjoyed a six-month placement in Germany. He was a member of the newbuild/grow-in team at Orchardleigh near Bath in the mid-1990s, where he stayed for 15 years until joining Dudsbury.
Rupert Price and the team from Price Turfcare had a superb response to their first visit as exhibitors at The Game Fair, held at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire at the end of July. With almost 120,000 visitors across the three-day event, the exposure for the Ventrac brand was outstanding. It was the busiest ever opening day in The Game Fairs 62-year history, with a three-day total of 119,378 people enjoying the return of the festival of the Great British countryside.
Commenting a couple of days after the show, Rupert Price said,
“This was our first time as exhibitors at The Game Fair and it was an incredible experience. Visitors to this event are a prime section of the target audience for our Ventrac all-terrain compact tractor together with its range of attachments and there was huge interest. We marketed it as the Estate Manager’s Swiss Army Knife and it certainly drew a lot of attention.
“I think it helped that we had moving demonstrations on our stand, which enabled visitors to get a glimpse of what the machine can do. We had ramps at 20 and 30 degrees to demonstrate its unique climbing ability and also had a bit of fun when we balanced a football in the airflow of one of the leaf blower attachments, which tended to stop people in their tracks. This is a family-friendly event and it was great to see so many young children besotted with machinery, especially tractors. We had hundreds of photos taken with them sitting on our static display and we exhausted our supply of ‘Venny Ventrac’ colouring books midway through the second day.
“At this type of event you don’t expect to sell large price-ticket equipment such as ours, but it does provide the opportunity for exposure and to talk to prospective purchasers. I have to say that we have come away with some superb leads and it’s going to take quite some time to follow them up, but that’s a nice problem to have. We’ll definitely return next year.” The Ventrac all-terrain compactor has over 30 different attachments that can be front-mounted to provide an extremely versatile machine for a wide range of estate management applications. With a choice of eight mowing decks, it can maintain grassed areas ranging from fine turf to thick brush. Other attachments include aerators, aera-vators, brushes, blowers, overseeders, rotovators, buckets and grabs, stump grinders, trenchers and snow removal accessories. In its eight-wheel configuration it can operate on slopes of 30 degrees – the only ride-on machine in the UK certificated for such steep gradients.
JCB Golf & Country Club, the flagship sales and marketing tool of the JCB brand, situated in rolling parkland adjacent to the company’s World Headquarters in Staffordshire, has purchased a package of Ventrac equipment from local dealer, Sharrocks. Included in the package is a Ventrac 4500 all-terrain compact tractor with dual-wheels, a Tough Cut rotary deck, a Power Broom and a Stump Grinder.
The 7,400-yard course, which opened in 2018, was designed by architect Robin Hiseman of European Golf Design, and is situated in 280 acres on the estate of the former Woodseat Hall and surrounding farmland. It can be played by JCB management, staff and their guests, together with private and corporate members including dealers, suppliers and major customers. Integral to the design brief is the expectation that it will become a regular venue for a professional tour golf.
Callum Wark is the Course Manager and is responsible for a team of 31 full-time staff including three apprentices, two irrigation technicians, two mechanics and four gardeners. He’s been at the course since its inception having been employed here since the start of the course build back in 2016.
“It’s the best decision I’ve made in my career, so far,” he said. “I previously worked at Loch Lomond and it was great grounding, but when I was offered the opportunity to work on a new build, something very rare these days, especially so in the UK, I jumped at the chance. I worked as Head Greenkeeper under Euan Grant and when he left, I applied for the job of Course Manager and was successful.
“We have large estate to manage here and the CEO demands that it is of the highest quality possible. Not just the golf course, but all the areas surrounding the clubhouse, our luxury lodges and the academy. JCB is renowned across the globe and our facilities here must reflect the esteem intrinsic in the brand. That’s our goal and, in a nutshell, that’s my job.
“Therefore, we need robust and reliable equipment, to ensure that we maintain the property to these exacting standards. And, that’s why we’ve purchased the Ventrac package. This course has been designed to accommodate championship golf and has been constructed with dramatic fescue mounds and banking for spectator viewing. We needed a machine that could tackle these slopes; we tried other machines, but none came close to what the Ventrac could do. The initial demonstration was excellent and we knew very quickly that it was the machine for us.
“We have 10 km of tarmac-ed cart paths and these need to be swept clean on a regular basis. We also have extensive car-parking and other hard landscaped surfaces, so the inclusion of the Power Brush in the package was an obvious choice. We have numerous tees on each hole, but the championship tees are rarely used and this can lead to a moss issue. This can be controlled by setting the broom bristles to just touch the sward and removal is quick and simple. Being a woodland estate, the Tough Cut deck and Stump Grinder come into their own when we clear any woodland margins. “Versatility is the key word when describing the Ventrac; one power unit for many accessories. I need to make a business case for the additional purchase of the Cart Path Edger. The cart paths are all edged with kerbs and a strip of fine fescue either side. I usually send four guys out to edge those areas, whereas one guy on a Ventrac could do that in just one day.”
Tim McCutcheon is the Head Mechanic and has been described as a green-keeper with a passion for mechanics. He began his career at Lichfield Golf Club, before enrolling on the Ohio State Program, where he spent 18 months working at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, OK, recognised as one of the top 100 courses in the world and host to 15 Championships since 1945. “What can I say about this machine apart from it’s brilliant,” he said. “From a greenkeeping perspective it’s so versatile, but from a mechanic’s point of view, it’s a dream. It’s robustly built, the belts are easily accessible and simple to change, as is the access to filters and grease points. The flip-up decks make cleaning and maintenance easy and the accessory mounting system is ingenious. One thing is outstanding, especially in my role, and that’s the quality of the manuals. They are extensive and in colour, which really helps when trying to identify parts. All-in-all, a great addition to our fleet.”
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.
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.
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.