More than four years after taking delivery of a ProPass 180 broadcast top dresser from Turfmech, Steve Evans, course manager at Yelverton Golf Club in Devon, continues to sing the praises of a machine that helps keep the greens on the 18-hole moorland links style course running fast and true.
"I recall the first time that we used Tycrop's ProPass, it took us a couple of hours to treat all 18 greens compared with the six hours taken previously with a narrow, drop-style spreader," he said. "The machine's high workrate was a real eye opener, achieved due to its ability to spread light dressings evenly across far greater bout widths while removing the need also to mat in heavy surface deposits."
Although the ProPass 180 has the ability to spread dressings from 3.6m to 9m (12ft - 30ft) wide, Steve commented that he had settled on a bout width of 4.5m (15ft), enabling most of Yelverton's greens to be treated in two cross passes with one run around the perimeter.
"We have now got the job off to a fine art," he said. "Two men take just 90 minutes to lightly top dress the complete course every two to three weeks from March through to October without causing any disruption to play."
Starting at 5am, a total of four tonnes is applied by the ProPass 180 to all 18 golf greens, and the putting green, long before the first golfers tee off. The top dressing mix used is 90% sand, 10% fen soil, found to be the best combination on a course described by Steve as very free draining.
"From the greenkeeping aspect, the result of these little but often treatments has seen the condition of the greens and tees improve tenfold since we first started using the machine," he said. "Not only do the greens remain consistently fast and true but the increased frequency of top dressings has produced a further major benefit on a course laid out on common land, with the sharp sand in the mix helping keep grazing ponies off the finer turf."
To say that Steve Evan is impressed with the ProPass 180 would be an understatement. As the first user of the machine in the south-west of England, he has become a major advocate for its capabilities and results.
"To be honest, I cannot understand why any golf club would still want to use a belt and brush drop-style top dresser," he said. "The ProPass can apply light or heavy dressings across an extensive range of bout widths. It can be towed behind a tractor or mounted on a Toro Workman or John Deere ProGator. It saves greenkeepers' time and labour, reducing costs while keeping golfers happy. It also produces superb results. To my mind, it is quite simply the best bit of kit on the course."