Burford Golf Club, in Oxfordshire, has upgraded its old rake with a new Toro Sand Pro in an investment that will see its bunkers' playing surface perfectly maintained for years to come.
Although noted for its tree-lined fairways and high quality greens, the traditional members' club boasts 80 bunkers, offering an interesting challenge across all 18 holes of play.
While getting a course's bunkers 'right' is known as something of a challenge among greens staff, head greenkeeper Stuart Richens says his new Toro Sand Pro 2040Z zero-turn bunker rake is up to the job.
"With 80 to look after, including the one on our practice green, we need to keep on top of our bunker care," he says, explaining that early last year Toro dropped off the 2040Z rake for the club to try; a step that was quickly followed by a desire to buy the machine.
"With our previous steel-bladed rake there was always the possibility that the operator could bring up stone, particularly in a bunker that was nearing the need for a top-up with sand. I was also worried when raking the lined bunkers; the metal pegs of our previous machine having the potential to do a lot of damage if a liner got caught.
"The rubber rake fingers of the 2040Z are really gentle. They do not bring up any stone and, if a tooth hits the lining, it will ride up and over," he explains.
One pass of the 2040Z is typically enough to fluff up the most challenging of sand surfaces, producing a consistent and well-groomed finish.
"We only started using the new rake in February this year, but during that time it has raked all the bunkers at least two times a week. This increasing to three times as spring sees more play around the course," Stuart adds.
The club's key rake operators are Michael Barnes and Richard Hitchman, with Michael being the more experienced user, having operated the same model of rake at his previous club, Tadmarton Heath.
"I came to Burford at the same time as the new rake," says Michael. "As I had used a 2040Z before it was me that got to use it here first. Traction and agility mean it's easy to get into all the bunkers here and it has a nippy 12mph travel speed. This enables us to rake all the bunkers on the course in around four hours."
"The Toro is also priced competitively," adds Stuart. "We looked at other rakes to replace our old machine, but the 2040Z was around half the price of some of them.
"But even if it were more expensive I reckon it would still be the right tool for us. The zero turn means it's really agile and a feature that lifts the arm on the inside of a tight turn rounding off the pass leaves a good neat finish. We have not had any negative feedback from the members which is equivalent to praise. It does a cracking good job."