Day one and two
I arrived early on Monday 24th May at the Coldra Woods maintenance compound and met up with Workshop & Machinery Manager, Patrick 'Cal' Callaby, to discuss the week's plan over a pleasant cup of tea.
Chris Heales, the workshop supervisor, whisked me off to the new maintenance facility on the impressive and specially designed Ryder Cup 2010 golf course where The Celtic Manor Resort was due to hold their own Wales Open Tournament on 3rd to 7th June.
Martin Perrott and Dean Gwillym, the two resident machinery technicians, gave me a warm welcome and set me straight to work.
The first task was to sharpen eight of the Toro 5410 fairway mowers for the 2010 course and, whilst Dean continued with the day to day duties of a golf course maintenance technician, Martin and I began stripping and sharpening the first of the mowing units.
Martin replaced the five worn bedknives of one machine and I sharpened the cutting reels and refaced the new bedknives, using the Bernhard's Express Dual and Anglemaster 4000.
Incidentally, the 5410 that required five replacement EdgeMax blades had 986 hours on the meter, these were the first new set of blades to be fitted to this machine since it was purchased in 2007, a tribute to non-contact setting, together with the superb quality of the bedknives, I think you will agree.
Martin was in charge of reassembling the cutting units, setting reels and the height of cut. It is always best for one person to do this as, then, the mowing units are all set exactly the same. I also helped by reassembling some units, and we remounted them on the 5410s when the sharpening and setting was all done.
The two of us completed three of the five unit 5410 mowers on Monday, and five more on Tuesday, taking special care with the height of cut and reel to bed knife settings.
These eight fairway mowers were all rigged out with grass catchers for the preparation period and the tournament week, and all set at the same height of cut.
It was no mean feat to sharpen and set up forty fairway mower cutting units for a tournament, in two days, but the new Toro DPA cutting units are very user friendly, and so is the Bernhard sharpening system.
Day 3 Wednesday
Martin and I set about sharpening the seven Toro Flex 21 greens mowers. When we had replaced the usual tournament bedknives with the micro-cut blades, we trued up the new bedknives using the Anglemaster and spun ground the reels. Martin then carefully set the height of cut to the pre-agreed tournament height.
We also sharpened ten Toro 1600 26 inch walk behind tees mowers, replacing bedknives on some as we went.
All of these seventeen Toro walk behinds were to be used as the morning mowers for the tournament days.
Day 4 Thursday
The primary task for today was to sharpen and set up the second/reserve set of six Toro Flex 21 greens mowers. There was some discussion and experimenting with bedknives, due to a temporary shortage of new micro cut tournament blades, which had not arrived in time due to a mix up with the order.
We set up one Flex 21 unit with a part worn, but carefully sharpened, standard tournament bed knife, which are the normal blades for daily cutting on all of Celtic Manor's greens mowers.
The first of the sharpened Flex 21 greens mowers was set at the same height, and checked that it had the same "ground clearance" as the seven Flex 21 mowers, sharpened and set up the previous day. Clearance was checked using a feeler gauge device, inserted between the bottom of the bed knife and top of the height setting bar - we did not want bedknives rubbing the greens surface.
After cutting trials on a green, comparing the first mower from each day's group of six greens mowers, a decision was made to continue with the standard tournament blades. The other five machines were then all sharpened and set up ready for the tournament.
With all the checking and testing we were running out of time, so the ten pedestrian mowers were all that we achieved.
I did, however, have enough time to check over the new Bernhard Rapid facer 1000 and offer some tips and tricks to the technicians, ready for their daily rapid face and cutting checks.
Day 5 Friday
Martin and I sharpened a further three Flex 21 greens mowers as spare/reserve units, then spun ground and rapid faced three DPA greens triplex units.
We also sharpened the nine cutting units on three Toro Sidewinder triplex mowers. These were to be used for close semi rough cutting alongside the fairways.
JOB DONE - 108 cutting units sharpened in five days. Not a record for an Express Dual system but, if an outside sharpening contractor had been employed:
1. There would be no control over quality
2 There would be no control over the delivery time.
3. At about £110 per unit for sharpening (£11,880) you would have almost paid for three years lease purchase of the Bernhard Express Dual and Anglemaster reel mower sharpening system, with just one week's sharpening costs!
During Friday, Cal and I managed to fit in a tour of the Ryder Cup Course.
I was most impressed with all of the facilities at both workshops and, having worked all week with Chris, Dean and particularly closely with Martin, I was suitably impressed with their work ethic, product knowledge of the Toro equipment and ability to get everything spot-on for the most efficient cutting performance from their Toro machinery.
Contributed by Peter Hampton and Patrick (Cal) Callaby