With the winter season upon us, it's important to keep golf course machinery up to scratch and capable of dealing with the challenges colder weather brings.
With 30 years' experience in the industry, Royal Norwich Golf Club's estates manager Peter Todd knows the importance of winter machinery maintenance
With Royal Norwich Golf Club's new course in its first winter, estates manager Peter Todd, with 30 years of experience in the industry, explains why winter maintenance is so important.
"Golf is now very much a sport which is played 365 days a year," he says. "It used to be that winter would signal a break in the level of activity, but more and more golfers want to enjoy golfing throughout the year and make the most of their membership. And their expectations of the course don't change just because the weather has.
"In order to keep standards high, you have to keep your machinery in top notch condition and paying attention to parts maintenance is your first point of call in order to do that."
It's well known that the winter season provides many challenges for greenkeepers. For one, cutting turf in wet conditions makes it more difficult to get a perfect finish. So, sharpening cutting unit blades in winter is essential, says Peter.
"With wet grass and the increase in earthworm castings in the autumn and winter, it becomes more difficult to keep blades sharp," he says. "Although you need to make sure your blades are sharp throughout the year to keep quality consistent, the winter season brings that more into focus. Plus, not cutting cleanly will increase the risk and spread of disease in your turf - so that's an added reason to ensure the proper maintenance of your machinery parts in the winter."
With a blade for all seasons, choosing Toro guarantees not only a perfect fit but one carefully crafted to suit specific turf needs. For example, the 'Atomic' blades are what's best later in winter, perfect for mulching up leaves or for use with a recycling deck to mulch the grass.
The cold weather can also have an effect on machinery starting systems, says Peter. "Engines will take longer to start up in the cold and checking batteries and electrics, changing the oil and cleaning blocked air filters will save you time in the long run. Switching to new tyres to ensure you have improved grip in the face of unforgiving ground conditions as well as keeping a stock of replacement parts will ensure productivity remains high."
However, just as preparing the turf for winter is a year-round endeavour similarly so is machinery maintenance says Peter. "There is a tendency to push the majority of machinery maintenance into the off season when there are fewer jobs to do around the course and cutting frequency has decreased, and while it does provide the time to do the machine's 'MOT' if you like and a full service and deep clean, you'll never regret paying attention to your machinery and parts maintenance throughout the year."
Peter concludes: "Keeping on top of general maintenance ensures your machines are in the best possible condition. It can be tempting to cut corners when it comes to preventative service work, but breakdowns and downtime are more expensive and well-maintained kit tends to be trouble-free. In an ideal world maintenance should always be done as per the machinery manufacturer's instructions in order to keep standards high."
To stock up on Toro Parts or for winter machinery maintenance advice, customers can get in touch with their local genuine Toro parts dealer or service centre or contact Reesink via reesinkturfcare.co.uk