As Tadmarton Heath Golf Club's course manager Brian Owen retires after 44 years in the industry, 25 years at the club and 15 years using Toro machinery exclusively, he takes a moment to look at the biggest change he has seen in his accomplished career.
Brian has worked at a variety of courses across the country, beginning at Southerndown Golf Club's championship links course in Wales and finishing at the Oxfordshire-based, heathland course of Tadmarton.
And throughout almost 50 years in the business, it's the dealer support and service Brian thinks has changed the most and made the biggest difference to working life. He recalls: "Working at a remote Cornish links golf club in the eighties, you were lucky to get any service at all; we had to be very self-sufficient. Nowadays you can completely rely on your distributor or dealer for all your maintenance needs, just as we have at Tadmarton with Reesink Turfcare and Toro for many years."
Changing the way Tadmarton purchased and maintained its machinery has also made a big difference. When Brian joined as course manager in 1992, the club was buying one machine a year, had a fleet twice as big as it does now, and yet the condition of the course still needed a lot of work.
Brian explains: "I convinced the board to lease hire instead of owning machines, meaning service came fully included, and gradually turned the fleet completely Toro to keep the course in the best possible condition. When it comes to machinery, quality over quantity is key, as is reliability."
And so it happened that five years after becoming all-red, Tadmarton switched to Toro UK distributor Reesink Turfcare for back-up services who, Brian says, have been incredibly supportive: "Reesink offers the best support in the industry. I've worked with Reesink's Robert Rees for ten years and he's been brilliant on a professional as well as personal level.
"In fact, we met at a local pub the other day with Reesink's regional manager John Pike and they presented me with a Toro decanter for all the work we have achieved together. It was a marvellous surprise and I shall think of them every time I pour a glass of port."
On a personal level, a particular highlight of Brian's career was driving the recently completed bunker renovations forwards at Tadmarton: "The bunkers hadn't undergone any big changes since the course was established in 1922, so they needed to be brought up to the same standard as the rest of the course. The renovations began five years ago and, this year, we completed the 64th and final bunker. To see it finished is the perfect sign off to my career!"