Ventrac enables mowing in the wet

By Alistair January 27, 2021 07:57 Updated

Rupert Price, managing director of Price Turfcare, the UK and Ireland importer of Ventrac compact tractors and attachments, gives his thoughts on maintaining turf in wet conditions.

“Mowing grass when it’s wet or maintaining boggy margins around ponds with mechanical equipment is never easy,” he says. “In fact, working on any turf surface in wet conditions can leave the area looking very messy indeed.

“However, sometimes it’s necessary to get out and get on with the job, whatever the weather and we believe that we have the answer to the greenkeepers’ dilemma. The Ventrac 4500 tractor does something most traditional equipment can’t: mow and operate in wet conditions on even the most delicate turf. Its light footprint, all-wheel drive and floatation tyres help the tractor move across the turf without creating ruts or tearing out the grass by its roots. The articulating and oscillating FlexFrame keeps all four tyres in contact with the ground, spreading the weight of the tractor, and minimizing its impact on the wet ground. With the addition of the dual wheel kit, the weight is spread out even more, increasing traction and further minimising turf disturbance.

“In fact, most Ventrac 4500 tractors we sell are with the dual-wheel configuration. This puts eight tyres in contact with the surface and distributes the weight of the machine and any implement it is using, generating just 6 psi; that’s far less than the average greenkeeper exerts through their feet.

“So, if it’s imperative that you need to get a job done, the 4500, with its light footprint can get onto wet areas causing minimal damage and disturbance, compared to a traditional ride-on mower or compact tractor.

As Group Courses Manager at The Club Company, Chris Brook is the responsible for all greenkeeping activities at the organisation, which owns and operates 14 Country Clubs across the UK. They now have four Ventrac machines within the group, mainly at venues that have been constructed on challenging terrain.

“We initially purchased three Ventracs across the group and they performed exceptionally well,” he said. “They are brilliant in wet conditions as they only generate 6 psi and can get out onto the course when other equipment would seriously damage the surfaces. The Ventrac at Woodbury Park is our fourth within the group, the other three being at Nizels Golf and Country Club in Kent, The Club at Meyrick Park in Bournemouth and The Tytherington near Macclesfield.

“I was quite sceptical when the machine arrived for a demonstration at Castle Royle back in 2017, but was pleasantly surprised, and delighted, at the machine’s capabilities. Considering it’s under 25 hp it is remarkably powerful and can go anywhere.”

One of the Ventracs is based at The Tytherington, where the golf course was constructed using clay spoil from the building of a housing estate back in the 1960s. The underlying clay profile can be quite wet during the winter months and difficult to maintain.

The Course Manager is Gareth Tucker, now in his second spell with the group. He was Deputy Course Manager in 2015 before taking up the post of Course Manager at Glossop; two years later he returned in his current role. Commenting on his Ventrac he says,

“In 2018 we took delivery of the Ventrac with Contour mower deck and Turbo blower attachments and they have been exceptional,” he said. “Back then, unlike some parts of the country, we had a very wet summer and it continued into the autumn. This created some challenges for the greenkeeping team, but the Ventrac got us out of jail on many occasions. With its minimal ground pressure, it can go out in all weather. The Contour deck is used on the semi-rough and the quality of finish for Captain’s Day that year was exceptional; we can lift the height of cut and also use it on the rough.

“The Turbine Blower attachment is very good; some years we get a gradual leaf fall in autumn, but in 2018 we’ve had a heavy fall in a short space of time. Add to this the wet conditions and the Ventrac was brilliant. We can get onto the green surrounds, very close to the green edges, blow away the leaves without marking and, most importantly, keeping our members happy.”

Peter Pattenden, the Golf Courses and Estates Manager at Carden Park, is definitely an advocate of the Ventrac 4500 compact tractor. He has two machines already and is in the final phase of purchasing a third to help maintain over 1400-acre property; 800 acres of Carden Park including two championship golf courses and a further 600 acres comprising owner Steve Morgan’s home at Carden Hall and the tenant farms dotted around the estate.

“I purchased my first Ventrac in 2017 with a selection of accessories including Contour deck, Tough Cut deck, Stump Grinder, Edger, Blower and Power Broom,” he said. “I was so impressed that a second one arrived in 2018 with another Contour deck and a third will be added to our fleet in the very near future.

“They have many outstanding qualities: versatility, manoeuvrability, build quality, reliability, ease of operation, but one not readily appreciated until you have it, is the ability to operate in wet conditions. We can be wet up here in Cheshire and it’s got us out of jail on many occasions. We get flash flooding on parts of the courses after heavy rain, but we can still get out and work. I have used both machines, side by side, with their Contour decks to mow the rough after heavy downpours.

“Worm casts on fairways can be a problem throughout autumn and winter; you don’t want to use reel mowers as you have to keeping sharpening the cylinders after use, but we can set the Contour deck at 19mm and keep everything looking good.

“We do a lot of woodland maintenance, removing trees and scrub and this means travelling across fairways to reach particular areas. The light footprint of the Ventrac, which I believe is just 6 psi, allows us to go in with either the Stump Grinder attachment or the Tough Cut deck to maintain these sites, without leaving wheel marks around the courses. Also, I’ve recently purchased a Trencher attachment, which will be used over the winter months to help us install additional drainage bands.

“Finally, these machines are bullet-proof. Their reliability is incredible; we’ve had no issues whatsoever. I can honestly say this is one of the best machines I have ever bought! Summed up in three words, it’s exceptional, versatile and robust.”

By Alistair January 27, 2021 07:57 Updated

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