Toro Greensmaster 1021

. minute read

30 years after its launch the classic Toro Greensmaster 1000, beloved by so many across the globe, has had a redesign. Never one to rest easy Toro has taken the enduring best seller and done what many didn’t think was possible and made it better. We sent independent machinery tester James de Havilland to review the prototype.

First impressions

When asked to try a new mower, changes have typically been made, but a complete redesign is rare. With its new Greensmaster range however, Toro is in the process of revamping its pedestrian greens mowers and the new GR1021 walk behind model we look at here is new from the tip of its handle to its driveline and chassis. All that remains the same are the patented DPA cutting units, but even that has a modular build to allow the driveline and chassis to be removable for eased servicing.

The quick look here does not do this mower justice. This is a machine that represents a genuine advance in both ease of operation and long-term future care. Make no mistake, these mowers are the Toro shape of things to come.

Existing Toro pedestrian greens mower operators and those in the workshop will appreciate the developments made to the latest GR1021. A ‘swing axle’ feature allows the mower to swap from greens to tees mowing quickly. When combined with the easy setting between low and high clip rates, one mower can be used for two distinct mowing jobs without taking workshop time to set up and adjust.

The new GR1021 walk behind model we look at here is new from the tip of its handle to its driveline and chassis.

James de Havilland Technical Freelance Writer

Put to the test

Imagine the scenario. Tasked with hand mowing a green or two ahead of a prestigious tournament, you have no choice of the mower you will use, let alone the fiddle time you may want to adjust the handle height. Job one with this new GR1021? See if adjusting the handle height is as easy and, of equal importance, see if making this adjustment has a real impact on working the machine.

All it takes to set the handle height on the new Greensmaster is to raise a knurled alloy clamp handle to release the handle to telescope up and down. As the handle freely pivots at its mount, setting the height actually took a couple of goes to get right. First time, the adjustment made was a bit too low for a comfortable turn. A small adjustment later and the handle was about right, but still another tweak was needed. This took a further few seconds.

Why all this preamble on such a small point? Simple. Setting the mower to suit the individual demands of one operator took perhaps a minute. When swapping to another user, adjusting the handle to how they like it would take moments. Details like this matter. So too does the working interface between user and machine and here another change is the new ‘dual function bail’, the engagement rail positioned under handle loop. As you would expect, holding the rail up engages drive.

Around 15 years separate the Toro GR 1000 on the left from the new GR 1021 to its right. Apart from the more obvious difference in the design of the handle, the modular build of the latest model does away with the belt drive of its forebear, with a sealed geared driveline and maintenance-free bearings throughout.

Unlike the existing system, where drive is just engaged or released by the bar, the new system enables drive to remain engaged but slowed as it is released. On the flat, most operators will tend to spin the mower round at full drive speed. On a slope, the dual action of the engagement rail allows the turn to be slowed. Even a brief run with the new model was enough to suggest the new system works in enabling the turn speed to be easily controlled.

There were other little details that stand out too, such as the engine throttle lever. This is tucked inside the loop of the handle where it is out of the way but within thumb reach for a slight nudge up or down. This small design change is just one of the niceties of the mower’s revised control layout. A few minutes at the handle of a Greensmaster GR1021 and it’s clear this is a mower you’re just ready to use. The controls feel natural and intuitive, suggesting a switch from pretty much any other greens mower to one of these will be painless.

Back in the workshop, a few minutes studying the mower were enough to take in more of the new model’s details. In place of the belt drive transmission is a new geared drive from the engine to the roller and cylinder driveshafts, a new design that replaces the belt drive of predecessor models. Fully enclosed, Toro suggest the system will just do its job with no attention, the gear case having a factory fill of long life grease that should last the life of the mower.

The drive shafts links via collars so they can be easily detached if the driveline or power unit needs attention. This modular build is carried over to the DPA cutting unit, the whole unit being designed so it can be released and lifted off for servicing. Talking of maintenance, you will have a fruitless search when it comes to finding any grease points. There are none.

The telescopic handle adjusts for height without the need for any tools. Designed to pivot at the base, the new handle isolates the operator from vibration and shock but not at the expense of ease of control.


It is perhaps easier to outline what the latest Toro GR1000 Greensmaster has in common with its predecessor than list what is new, with just the DPA cutting unit carried over (perhaps unsurprising considering its advanced and proven technology). Even that element is now designed for quick and easy removal for maintenance. The pre-production model I looked over here highlights just how much has changed but, of equal importance, shines a light into the future of all Toro walk behind mowers.

In summary

We got just a taste of what the new GR1021 has to offer, the pre-production machine we got to try being the first to showcase a raft of Toro developments due for 2020 and beyond. If the brief time spent with this mower shows that those who operate and look after Toro mowers have lot to look forward to, which in turn is good news for those who pay the bills.


Engine type: Lithium-ion battery

Cutting width: 150cm

Min. height of cut: 1.6cm

Width: 70.9″ (180cm)

Length: with Baskets 98″ (249cm)

Height: 80.8″ (205cm)

Wheelbase: 49.8″ (126.5cm)

Minimum Turning Radius (to machine center line): 35.9″ (91cm)