The 2006 Ryder Cup will be heading to Ireland this September with the eyes of the golfing world focusing on The K Club's Palmer Course - one of Europe's finest golf courses, equipped with Toro's irrigation systems and turf machinery. It will be the culmination of a six-year partnership during which The Toro Company has been assisting The K Club in preparation for the biggest sporting event ever witnessed in Ireland.
"Toro has been in the forefront of my mind in helping determine how I'm going to prepare the golf course," said Gerry Byrne, course superintendent at The K Club. "This year's Ryder Cup is not only going to be a success for The K Club, Ireland and Europe, but also for Toro. I'm not talking about the result, but rather the challenge of producing a golf course worthy of a world stage. I cannot, and would not, even attempt to do it if I wasn't in partnership with my friends at Toro."
Toro is the official provider of irrigation and turf maintenance equipment for The K Club, and has partnerships formed with future European Ryder Cup courses over the next decade. Toro's support for The Ryder Cup includes providing irrigation system performance checks, ongoing involvement with superintendents and grounds crews, on-site technicians to assist during the event, and additional turf equipment including mowers, bunker rakes, utility vehicles and more.
"We're grateful for the relationships we share with The K Club and The Ryder Cup," said Mike Hoffman, chairman and CEO of The Toro Company. "It brings us a great sense of pride to have them count on Toro to help create and maintain world-class golfing venues. That's why our commitment remains strong to developing new technologies that meet the many needs of our customers. It's important they stay on the cutting edge, and have the best equipment for the job."
Since 1998, The K Club's Palmer Course has undergone incredible change - all in preparation for this September's Ryder Cup. Byrne and his crew have added new greens, tees and bunkers; introduced swale areas; planted mature trees; reduced six fairway widths; and built a new maintenance facility.
Ireland's cool, maritime climate poses certain challenges to the . Achieving a light footprint is important, so Byrne relies on Toro to provide him with lightweight mowers to easily and efficiently cut the fairways before and during matches.
"In addition to Toro's equipment, we have wall-to-wall Toro irrigation products installed on our golf courses and we're very proud of it," said Byrne. "Toro have really been there for me whenever I needed them; it's a consistent 'yes' with these guys."
Toro enjoys a longstanding relationship with The Ryder Cup. In 1997 the competition took place in Spain's Club de Golf Valderrama - a golf course that has used Toro irrigation and equipment since 1986. In fact, Toro-equipped courses have already been chosen to host all European Ryder Cup matches until 2014.
As the big event approaches, Byrne says he is taking it one day at a time, monitoring everything from the weather to the fairways to the trees. Byrne even set up 40,000m of drainage across the crowd lines and sand-plated these areas to ensure a comfortable golfing experience. Over the duration of the golf tournament, more than 200,000 people are expected to walk through The K Club's gates. As a result, the club will have about 5,000 staff members dedicated to ensuring the event runs smoothly.
"It's just steady as we go, letting nature do its thing," said Byrne. "Toro has been a tremendous help to me. Nothing has been a problem. I'm looking forward to working in partnership with Toro for the next few weeks to ensure the success of this event."