When it comes to course machinery, Surbiton Golf Club has done things the same way for many years. But times are changing, starting with the delivery of its first full fleet. The lease deal with Toro and Reesink Turfcare is a clear signal of the club's desire to deliver a golfing experience to members that will be the envy of other clubs in Surrey.
When Andrew Kerr joined the club in Chessington as head greenkeeper, he went straight to work with the Greens Committee to deliver a complete overhaul of the way the club acquired and replaced its machinery.
Clint Whittaker, club secretary, explains: "We used to purchase machines outright when required, as part of our capital investment plan. This meant we had machines of varying ages, some of which couldn't provide Andrew with the performance he needed to deliver the course results we expect. So rather than just replace a few machines, we decided to acquire a whole new fleet that is optimised to meet the very high expectations of our members."
Andrew, who is currently finalising his qualification as a master greenkeeper, says: "There's a great deal of choice for players, so it's imperative to be the best you can be on the budget you have. We're not one of the biggest clubs, but that doesn't mean we can't have the best presented course around. I was determined to bring the best machinery to support our course maintenance regime. I wanted to show the membership what's possible when you have the right equipment."
As a club owned by its members, this change in policy had to not only win over the committee, but 700 members too. Andrew continues: "It only took one viewing of the latest Toros, brought in by Reesink, to convince everyone that Toro was the brand to go with to raise the bar. I've found the management and the members to be entirely supportive, and when it came to the benefits of a lease agreement they were in absolute agreement. Our Toro fleet is delivering what I believe it should. The new technology we have at our fingertips means the greenkeeping team is making a real difference to the playability and quality of the course."
Clint agrees: "All in all, we could see this was an investment in the future of the club we had to go with."
Included in the fleet are four Greensmaster 1000 and three Greensmaster 1600 pedestrian mowers, two Reelmaster 5510-D ride-ons, two TriFlex 3420 hybrids, one with an 11-blade set-up and one with an eight, a Groundsmaster 4700-D, two Groundsmaster 3500-D mowers and a Multi Pro 5800-D.
Mike Taylor from Reesink Turfcare says: "Andrew came to us with a clear vision of what he wanted the machinery to achieve. It was a joint effort between Reesink and Surbiton Golf Club to make sure he got everything on that list to realise his vision. It was a big step forward for the club and provides real certainty that the greens team can meet member expectations."
So, where there is a will there is a way. You don't need the biggest budget to get the equipment you want, or the finish you feel your members deserve. Look at the options with your management committee and where relevant the membership. Find the best people in the dealer and distributor network to talk to about what you want to achieve and consider that, just like a picture, a demo is worth more than a thousand words.