The quintessentially English game of croquet is thriving at a specially developed club - in Corfu. And a versatile Dennis FT mower is ensuring that its lawn is kept in perfect condition.
The Croquet Club of Corfu was founded in 2005 on the beautiful Greek island, with the lawn being painstakingly created from a bare patch of ground. "We faced many problems but we solved them all, establishing the ideal infrastructure for the turf," says part-time Club groundsman Jan Goes, who originally hails from Amsterdam.
"Shortly after the turf was laid, a huge box arrived in my office. Club owner Tony Blok had bought a Dennis FT 610 to maintain the grass, which was growing so fast it had to be cut every second day. I quickly learned how to use the machine, and maintenance is easy for a non-professional."
The 61cm (24in) wide FT 610 is from a range of Dennis FT machines that accept quick-change cassettes for various essential tasks. These include a choice of cutting cylinders, scarifiers, verti-cutters, a roller, a sorrel roller and a slitter, and Jan Goes says this versatility is a boon. "Maintaining a croquet lawn is a complex task, requiring regular cutting, aerating, verti-cutting and scarifying. With the FT 610 we can do it all, and changing the cassettes only takes a few minutes.
"The results still delight us, with a smooth, lush surface having been created. And the machine is really light and very manoeuvrable. It turns like a ballerina. The mower is worked hard, and I have calculated that it has already cut the equivalent of half a million square metres of grass, without any mechanical problems."
Jan Goes settled in Corfu in 1996, after having held senior management positions with businesses in The Netherlands. He and his wife Antoinette embarked on a series of sailing trips around the European coast, and on reaching Corfu they decided to stay. "We founded a marine services company, offering brokerage, maintenance and charter delivery operation. We also arrange sailing holidays for clients," he says.
"Spending so much time at sea, I eventually looked for something that extra that was land-based. So when a friend had the idea to start the croquet club and needed a groundsman, I knew I'd found what I wanted."
Undertaking long-distance sea deliveries in winter, and the croquet maintenance work in the rest of the year, Jan Goes seems to have the ideal work balance. "Corfu is a paradise. It is a very green island and everything grows easily here." That means the Club's grass grows quickly, and the multi-tasking Dennis FT 610 keeps it under control, while achieving high standards of turf quality."