Chislehurst Golf Club in Kent has been using a Toro Sand Pro 2040Z since it arrived at the club in Autumn 2015 as part of a comprehensive Toro machinery deal. Since then it has been living up to its 'hype' with bunker raking now completed in over quarter of the time.
Danny Stunt, greenkeeper and mechanic at Chislehurst, says: "We used to rake the bunkers manually and that was a really labour intensive job taking four people four hours three times a week depending on the condition of the sand. Now, with the Sand Pro, the job is done by one person in two to three hours three times a week; that is a huge saving on time and resource."
Toro's Sand Pro 2040Z launched to the UK market in 2014 claiming it was up to four times quicker than ordinary bunker rakes, but at Chislehurst the saving is over five times what it was before making a huge difference to the productivity of the club's greenkeeping team of six. Not only that but the new 'flex' tooth rake system with a rake made from modified natural rubber is, as it was said it would, leaving 'perfectly formed bunker contours' in its wake.
"The Sand Pro leaves behind thinner, smoother, tighter grooves which allows the ball to sit up higher and means it is so much easier for members to play out of the bunker," says Danny. "There's no question our members much prefer the finish now and because the Sand Pro can get much further down than we could manually the dry to wet sand mix it produces leaves a much fluffier top layer. The finish is, in my opinion, perfect."
The rake, which is built in three independently moving sections, also has a patent-pending 'lift in turn' feature that lifts the inside rake during a tight turn, to leave no unraked teardrops or tyre marks behind. But first impressions of the rake left Danny wondering if it was up to the job.
"I have to admit when I first took a look at the rubber tongs I didn't think they would work, but they cut through the wet sand brilliantly and make short work of any puddles!"
Chislehurst Golf Club, which has recently celebrated its 150th birthday, presents a demanding test of accuracy rather than length across its 18-hole course set within 70 acres of parkland just 11 miles south east of London. The design influences of the course are unmistakably Harry S Colt's and the club's history is illustrious with its clubhouse housing Napoleon III, Empress Eugenie and their son the Prince Imperial in the 1870s.
Danny, who returned to his role at the club two years ago having already worked there for a year, says the return was down to the club's sound reputation and the opportunities it provides but he was very relieved to find the Toro Sand Pro on order. "I was dreading having to manually rake the bunkers so to find out the Sand Pro was on order was a huge relief!"