Ventrac Proves To Be A Hit At Stover Golf Club

    October 18, 2023

Purchased as an ex-demonstrator in January 2022 from Ventrac’s local dealer, Devon Garden Machinery (DGM), Stover Golf Club’s 4500 compact tractor with Contour deck attachment is a hit with course manager Jason Brooks and his team. “They just love it,” he said, “it’s simple to operate and suits our course as it makes light work of undulations and the bunker and tee banks that are a feature here. It’s certified to operate on 30-degree slopes, so from a health and safety point of view, it ticks all the boxes. We have numerous slopes that we used to strim, but we now use the Ventrac and save multiple work hours, they get cut more regularly and the definition is much better.

“We are situated mainly on clay, in fact there’s a Kaolin (china clay) and Silica (fine sand) quarry less than a mile away, so the light footprint of the machine is ideal. We also have a stream, Liverton Brook, running through the course and even in wet weather we can still mow the banks.”

Stover Golf Club is located on the outskirts of Newton Abbot and opened in two phases in 1931. It was designed by James Braid and constructed by his favoured course builder, J.R. Stutt. In 1942 during WW2 half the course was compulsory purchased to accommodate an American military hospital and after purchasing two nearby fields, returned to its 18-hole format in 1949. Today, four of Braid’s original holes remain.

Commenting on the latest developments to the course, Jason Brooks said: “Devon County Council are widening the nearby A382 and in doing so they needed some of our land, not a lot but enough to mean that a redesign of the front nine was necessary as it impacted holes 1, 2, 3 and 9 as well as the practice putting green. The council purchased an additional 30 acres of neighbouring land and architect Simon Gidman along with Profusion have constructed phase 1 which consists of 4 brand new holes. These open this June then phase 2 construction begins to renovate 4 existing holes to complete the changes.

“The grow in started last July and towards the end of the summer the fairways and roughs were seeded, we had a good start to the grow in but then as I'm sure a lot of greenkeepers experienced, we had an incredibly wet winter. The Ventrac was at times the only machine we could get out on the new part due to the low ground pressure of it.

“On the existing course we did a lot of tree removal during the winter and had a lot of stumps to grind; normally we would get a contractor in to do this at quite an expense, instead, we hired the stump grinder attachment from DGM and were very impressed. We managed to remove 150 stumps in just a week! With DGM only eight miles away, it’s good to know they have a range of Ventrac attachments for hire.

Brooks began his career as a seasonal at Dartmouth Golf Club in 1995, before starting his HND in turf management and on completion worked in Germany for a couple of years. On his return to the UK, he spent three years at Torquay Golf Club, before returning once again to Germany. A return to Torquay as deputy head greenkeeper for 9 years was next before taking a 6 month position at TPC Scottsdale in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2012, whilst there he helped prepare the course for the 2013 Phoenix Open, won by Phil Mickelson, as well as spending time in Texas working at both the Houston and Texas Opens. He then came back to England and was appointed course manager at Torquay, before taking up his current role at Stover in 2021.

“I’ve inherited a great team here at Stover and they’ve worked hard to produce superb facilities for the members,” he added. “The management have been really supportive, especially during the construction of the new holes and, with the addition of new machinery such as the Ventrac, we are confident that we can keep club moving forward during the next phase of its evolution.”

Photo: Jason Brook With His Ventrac.

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