Celtic Manor Resort's director of golf courses and estate management, Jim McKenzie, has paid tribute to the Toro turf maintenance machinery that helped him and his team successfully through the Ryder Cup 2010 in spite of some challenging conditions.
The tournament - which saw captain Colin Montgomerie lead team Europe to victory - was hailed a huge triumph for European golf, Wales and the Usk Valley resort. This was in spite of torrential rain that halted play on days one and three, and resulted in the Ryder Cup stretching into a fourth day for the first time in its 83-year history.
Jim says that he and his 50-strong team - together with the 70-plus volunteer greenkeepers and workshop technicians brought in especially for the event - simply could not have overcome this most difficult of starts, and subsequent restricted cutting windows, without the resort's trusted Toro fleet.
"We've had a good relationship with Toro and distributor Lely UK for many, many years, going back a good 10 years to before we entered into a formal agreement in 2005. Having worked with them on various Wales Opens, it was reassuring to go into the Ryder Cup knowing exactly what we would get in terms of quality and service - there's nothing worse than taking a step into the unknown when you're hosting such a prestigious event."
Jim supplemented Celtic Manor Resort's already extensive fleet with Toro's special tournament support service. "Fortunately we brought the tournament fleet in to deal with a worst case scenario! We had everything from Reelmaster 5410-D mowers for the fairways and Reelmaster 3100-Ds for the roughs to Greensmaster 1600 pedestrian mowers for the tees and approaches - you name it, we had it."
One of the team's greatest challenges was the shortened cutting windows, due to the adverse weather. "In some instances we had to cut the whole course in little over an hour to accommodate the multiple tee starts," Jim continues. "We could never have done that without the tournament fleet. And after the heavy rain subsided, we had to cut the course in a little over 24 hours after the rain stopped. We had all the 5410s out cutting in front of the crowds. There were some strange sights - one which will stay with me is the sight of two 5410s being cheered on by a bunch of Americans dressed as Vikings!"
And on the subject of the 5410s, Jim was pleasantly surprised by how quickly and easily his volunteers took to using the mowers. "A lot of them were strangers to our course and our equipment, and we weren't sure of their experience. Some of them were using the 5410s for the first time during the practice days and it was amazing how well they adapted to using the machines with minimal training and supervision, which is testament to Toro mowers' ease of operation."
There is, however, one bit of Toro kit Jim didn't use during the tournament. "Suffice to say we didn't switch our Toro Irrigation sprinklers on once, thanks to the rain! Our irrigation system was completely redundant!"
With the team now busy repairing the Twenty Ten course, Jim has hardly had a moment to reflect on the overall success of the tournament, but says: "This wasn't the easiest week of our lives and it's certainly not how we expected the Ryder Cup to be. Hopefully by Christmas I'll be able to say I enjoyed it! But there's certainly a huge sense of satisfaction here.
"We're delighted with the support from Toro and Lely. We're particularly grateful that they were able to accommodate that historic fourth day as we'd have been in serious trouble if the trucks had turned up Monday to take the fleet away to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where it was destined! We were in no doubt we'd get a high standard of service and performance, and will continue to rely on Toro in future."
For more information on Toro products and services, contact your local Toro dealer or call distributor Lely UK on 01480 226800 or email email@example.com. Alternatively, visit www.toro.com.