Prestigious new golf course construction Heythrop Park Resort on the outskirts of the Cotswold countryside has a 'greenkeeping team' of epic proportions. Yes, you'll find the likes of 'The Golden Bear' aka Jack Nicklaus, 'The Shark' aka Greg Norman and 'Tiger' as in Woods tending to this 18-hole championship course…
But these golfing greats haven't jacked in their day jobs - Heythrop's high-profile workforce is in fact the result of estate manager Phillip Helmn's ingenious coding of his brand new Toro fleet!
Having taken delivery of a 20-strong fleet in time for the course's 'soft' opening in October, he decided to use nicknames instead of numbers in honour of the game's legends to keep track of machinery maintenance (known as coding) - hence you'll find 'The Shark' Toro greensmower cutting the course and 'Tiger' Workman utility vehicle transporting materials around the resort.
Steeped in history, the 300-year-old estate is already home to a five-star hotel, health club and spa. Owner Firoka Limited - which also owns The Kassam Stadium, home to Oxford United Football Club - commissioned golf course architects Mackenzie & Ebert to design the new course. Phillip says a five-star machinery fleet was needed to maintain it to the high standards required.
"Heythrop is aiming to attract the five-star market and so we need five-star equipment - that's what Toro is," Phillip reveals. "All 25 years of my career, all I've really ever used is Toro. They're just the best. I've looked at others, but none have matched up." However, because Heythrop is new to the golfing market, the operations team trialled all the major manufacturers' machines - the result didn't come as a surprise to Phillip.
"Toro came out best," he continues. "Our operations director saw the quality of the products - Toro is the Rolls-Royce of greenkeeping machinery. While most manufacturers seem to have one machine that excels in one area, other machines are weak. But the full Toro fleet ticked all the boxes - there was nothing to surpass it. They're quality products for a quality finish."
Phillip's all-star fleet is now preparing the course for its full opening this spring. "We're currently building up our membership, but the feedback so far has been tremendous. We've also had PGA Tour interest and are in discussions about holding a tournament in future as the course is of the right standard and difficulty."
Though Heythrop's Toro kit currently only maintains the course, Phillip says the team is so pleased with its performance that they are now considering replacing the rest of the estate's equipment with Toro machines. "We're looking at expanding our Toro fleet for the rest of the grounds - we also have a croquet lawn, terrace areas and bowling greens. We're delighted with all the machines."
For more information on Toro turf maintenance machinery, contact your local Toro dealer or call distributor Lely UK on 01480 226800 or email email@example.com.
Photo caption: Clockwise from front left are Heythrop's operations director John Angus, Lely's John Pike, Alan Wilson from Handy Turf Machinery, Phillip Helmn and Lely's Jeff Anguige.