19 Apr 2018

Goodwood Estate goes Toro

Goodwood has returned to Toro as it continues in its ambition to develop a ‘super fleet’ for its 12,000-acre Sussex estate. 

The last time we caught up with Phil Helmn, general manager of sports turf and grounds at the all-encompassing Goodwood, he had taken delivery of a fleet of Toro fine turf machinery for The Downs and The Park golf courses in 2015 and said it signalled the start of a more structured approach to machinery operation. 

True to his word, we’re back in touch with Phil as he receives his six latest Toro purchases, all grounds machines to take care of the estate gardens, grassed lawn areas, the motor circuit, airfield and horse race course. 

Phil says: “Since I joined Goodwood four years ago, it has been my intention to make the estate 100 percent Toro. It made good business sense to follow up from our fine turf machinery deal and develop the relationship with the brand. It’s far easier to deal with one supplier and share resources.” 

Such a large enterprise as Goodwood comes with a wide set of challenges and having a Toro ‘super fleet’ enables three mechanics to become Toro-trained to a high standard to limit sub-contracting and out-sourcing. The estate will also now carry a range of parts for the equipment it operates to “drive efficiency”, says Phil, and allow for an instant response to any issues.

It makes sense then that included in the order of three Groundsmaster 3500-D mowers, a Groundsmaster 4300-D, two Groundsmaster 5910 mowers, and two UTVs – the GTX and MDX-D, is the new MyTurf servicing system.

The Pro fleet management program, myTurf, operates by automatically recording how long the machines have been in operation and how many hours they have accrued when they re-enter the maintenance facility and pass a sensor at the door. This allows the mechanics to calculate preventative maintenance and replacement parts needed, and machine history can be accessed by simply logging in to the system on a computer. 

Phil says: “Fleet maintenance is crucial to the performance of the machines, and this is a much slicker way of keeping on top of that.” 

Phil says the demonstrations required to make sure the machines he chose were relevant for the different areas, complementing wide ranging criteria, wasn’t actually as complicated a process as one may expect. “We performed due diligence with demos, but the process of deciding which grounds machines to get was actually pretty straightforward. When you know and trust a brand the decision-making becomes easy. For this recent order we opted for rotary mowers. The floating decks eliminate scalping and the rear rollers provides a really good striping effect. The finish is excellent.”

This latest Toro order is the culmination of a few years work for Phil, assessing how best to manage such a large estate and team. He says: “Having one big fleet has brought our four teams of 35 gardeners, groundsmen and greenkeepers together, to share techniques and skills according to the different environments they are using the machines on. 

“Back in 2015, when the fine turf fleet arrived, my priority was to ensure the entire Goodwood enterprise was maintained to the same exacting standards. I have used Toro for most of my career and personal experience tells me it’s a quality product and will not let me down. The fact that I can now extend the same standards to the grounds here at Goodwood means we can deliver the best results possible across the entire 12,000 acres.”