It is a truth universally acknowledged that no matter how big or small the golf club, one thing constant for all is for the course to be the best it can. Another truth is most want the very best equipment to achieve that and often from a modest budget.
For Eltham Warren Golf Club, the small but perfectly-formed nine-hole club in South East London, that means building a fleet of Toro machines gradually and considered over time.
Richard Hopgood, course manager, says the club has been "totally Toro" for the last seven years, since 2009, when he first started leasing machines. He says: "When I joined the club 25 years ago I inherited two trusty old Toros and from there I have slowly but surely built up a course-tailored Toro fleet. The leasing agreement from Reesink Turfcare [Toro UK distributor] enables us to add to the shed when we need to and upgrade the machines on a regular basis to make sure we're using the very latest technology. We have, like most clubs, a strict greens budget and the leasing agreement is ideal for managing that and ensuring the best for the club."
Richard and his dedicated greenkeeping team of two choose Toro for its "superior quality of cut" and the results are being commented on by its members.
Richard, who has a long association with the club having been a junior member aged 13 years, continues: "Eltham is one of the country's oldest nine hole courses with alternate tees and separate tees for the back nine. With narrow fairways too, a great accuracy of play is required to be successful and since we have turned to Toro exclusively, our members have been commenting on the improvement in the definition of the fairways, approaches and greens and how this has enhanced play.
"Not only that, but the machines are reliable, quiet, which is an important consideration for us in an urban setting, and highly-efficient. The Reelmaster 5510 in particular has saved us half the time cutting the fairways and the ProPass 200 top dresser is far quicker as well and has made the world of difference in improving the overall quality of all the playing surfaces. Considering our nine holes get twice the wear and tear of an 18-hole course and the variation in soil types and ground conditions across the 47-acre site, this is no mean feat."
Not only Richard, but his family have a long and involved history with the club. His late parents were members for many years, plus his father David was Club Captain in 1987 and his mother, Mary, Lady Captain in 2000. His father served on many committees and took a keen interest in the condition of the course, often organising volunteers to help with additional jobs around the course. It was this influence, plus that of his uncle, a professional gardener and groundsman that fueled Richard's love of turfcare. In fact, such was his interest that he was given a fully working miniature Webb lawnmower, which he used to follow his father and uncle when there was grass or pitches to be cut. "I started on a Webb and I'll most likely finish on a Toro!" says Richard.
The latest additions to Eltham Warren's fleet are the TriFlex 3420, Reelmaster 3100-D and Reelmaster 5510 fairway mower, as well as the purchase of the club's leased Greensmaster 3250-D. "This is a great option," he says. "Buying the older greens mower is economical, plus it means we know the history of the machine and can put other units on the front for, say, verticutting and rolling."