Located within the boundaries of Knole Estates in 1000 acres of outstanding Kent parkland and with 600 deer roaming freely around the estate is a club like no other. Knole Park is one of the most unique courses in the country; not only for the aforementioned reasons, but also for the fact that this one course plays home to two clubs.
Course manager at the club, which is home to Knole Park Golf Club and Sevenoaks Town Golf Club, is Gavin Kyle who has been at the club for 15 years. Gavin keeps a regular annual machinery replacement programme and this year he had a focus on choosing the right machines to create firm, true, fast surfaces, which is where Toro joins the story.
"It is important to consistently maintain a challenge for players," says Gavin. "It's for this reason that recent years have seen us extend the course by 200 yards, with further extension planned in the next year. There is a fine balance between offering a good game to all golfers, including those with a five handicap and below. We have players of all abilities across our two-club membership including a lot of scratch players and our greens needed an update this year to offer a consistent challenge to all.
"When choosing our next greens machines we checked out the market, going through rounds of demos from distributors. If I'm honest I haven't bought Toro since I've been at Knole Park, so for 15 years! But Toro is renowned for its greens machines in particular so were naturally included on the demo list. What appealed with the Greensmaster TriFlex 3420-H machines, which we went for, was that they're hybrids. I sought to reduce the risk of hydraulic leaks on the greens and I wanted the advanced control these machines can offer."
The TriFlex Hybrid's electric cylinder circuit is designed to eliminate up to 90 percent of hydraulic leaks, and the Turf Guardian leak detection system provides immediate audio and visual indication of possible leaks. Plus, the electric cylinders have less drag and spin more freely than hydraulic motors providing a sharp cut which leads to firmer and faster greens, exactly what Gavin is after. "Firm, true and fast greens is what we're all after and the Toro TriFlex is helping us achieve this at Knole Park," he confirms.
Providing the advanced control Gavin mentioned is the machines' Info Centre, which has an easily customised clip for different heights of cut as well as other operational settings to give complete machine control on cylinder speed, hours of function, system voltage for cylinders and diagnostic descriptions. It's this that provides the advanced control that appealed to Gavin in the TriFlexes.
But as Gavin goes on to say, it's never just as simple as the machines: "A machine is often only as good as the backup that comes with it. We're dealing direct with Reesink Turfcare for the first time and we've found that to be a great experience so far."
It seems opportune that Toro arrives back at Knole Park for the first time since the 1970s in the year that it hosted the Tillman Trophy, the tournament widely attributed to changing the face of amateur golf. We're sure with Toro on side, Gavin and his greenkeeping team of six will change the challenge of the course for all its members.