Carnoustie, Scotland: Toro equipment is being put to the ultimate test as Carnoustie Golf Links prepares to host the 147th Open Championship.
The Open Championship takes place from July 19-22, marking the eighth time Carnoustie has hosted the Championship. It’s the culmination of a months-long process to ensure optimal conditions for the players – along with the more than 185,000 spectators, officials, media representatives and support staff that are expected.
For Sandy Reid, Links Superintendent at Carnoustie, it’s a matter of refining the course conditions compared to every day play. He said: “We want to present the best players in the world with a true links test. We want the turf to be firm and consistent, and we want the greens to be rolling true. From a playability standpoint, that’s the main thing that we want to concentrate on.”
Craig Boath, Head Greenkeeper at Carnoustie’s Championship Course, added: “Preparation for The Open starts after the last one finishes. There’s a lot of pressure in the lead-up to The Open and the Championship week itself. But with the help of Toro, we can get the quality of cut and the course looking amazing.”
Carnoustie is using Toro’s Greensmaster Flex 21 walk-behind mowers on the greens, Greensmaster TriFlex Series 3420 Hybrid greens mowers on greens, tees and surrounds, and Reelmaster 5410 mowers on fairways – as well as Groundsmaster 3500-D and Reelmaster 3100 with the Sidewinder system on semi-roughs and surrounds. In addition, the team uses the ProCore 648 for aeration throughout the course, along with Workman utility vehicles.
According to Sandy McCubbin, Head Maintenance Engineer at Carnoustie, reliability, ease of use and quality of finish in the end are key factors in the course’s choice of equipment. He said: “The most important part of my job has got to be the quality of cut on the cutting units – to make sure the cutting sharpness is spot on. Even more so with The Open coming because all eyes of the world are on our greens.”
Reid added: “We’ve used Toro equipment for over 30 years at Carnoustie. Over the years we’ve had a fantastic relationship with the Toro people, from their sales team to their after-sales team and the support that they’ve provided over the years – whether it be tournament support or just generally looking after all our needs here. The engineers, they really listen to the greenkeeper in order to keep their machinery moving forward.”
Boath agrees. He said: “Toro equipment is our preferred choice because it’s user friendly, it’s reliable, and it’s something we always count on.”
Carnoustie is revered as one of golf’s greatest tests, with a history in the game that dates back to the early 16th Century. That’s because the course poses several unique challenges. It’s located on exposed links land on Scotland’s east coast, where the elements contribute to the golfing test. It also has challenging bunkering. And in addition to being narrow, it’s over 7,400 yards long – making it the longest course to host The Open.
Carnoustie Golf Links is made up of four courses: the Burnside Course, the Buddon Links Course, the Nestie (a six-hole junior course) and the Championship Course, which has hosted seven previous Opens. In 2016, the Championship Course was ranked number one course in Scotland by the general public.
Although it has taken a tremendous amount of teamwork and co-ordination, the preparations leading up to the week of The Open have been well worth it. In Reid’s words: “The Open is golf’s pre-eminent Championship, with the best players and a worldwide audience. As a greenkeeper, it’s the peak of our career – and we thoroughly look forward it.”
Toro is an Executive Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.