Seven years of consistency at Carden Park

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick June 6, 2024 10:05

Peter Pattenden, the Golf Courses and Estates Manager at Carden Park, was one of the early adopters of Ventrac in June 2017. Here he looks back and assesses how his machines have contributed to the upkeep of Carden Park, Cheshire’s premier golfing venue.

“My Ventracs have gone from strength to strength here at Carden Park,” he said. “In 2017 we took delivery of one of the first machines to be sold in the UK together with a selection of attachments that included a Contour deck, Tough Cut deck, Stump Grinder, Edger, Turbine Blower and Power Broom. The following year I bought a second machine and just after lockdown in 2020 I was offered an ex-demo machine from my local dealer, Cheshire Turf Machinery.

“At that time delivery of new equipment was really slowing down due to supply chain issues, so I took the opportunity to add another Ventrac to the fleet, knowing that it would contribute to the management of the estate. Last year I updated the first two machine to the new 4520 model and also purchased two new Contour decks.

“These new tractor units have more power and torque, which is really useful when mowing as they have a bit more grunt, especially when mowing on banks and tackling heavy growth. We’ve had absolutely no issues at all, apart from operator error and we’re learning all the time; we know their limits, but they are very easy to use, are nimble and, most importantly, safe on steep banks; the guys are very comfortable with them.

“I added a 60-inch rotary Finishing deck, which we use between the vines in the vineyard and I’ve just ordered a customised sprayer, predominantly for the vineyard but it will also be used on bunker banks and surrounds when we apply wetting agents or weed suppressants. This will help us out tremendously, as it’s so time-consuming hand mowing bunker faces.

“I recently demoed the 96-inch-wide area deck, which has an excellent quality of cut, and would be great on larger, flatter areas like sportsfields, but here at Carden the Contour deck is king due to its versatility and the way it distributes the grass. We now have three Contour decks and two Tough Cut decks with one of each dedicated to estate work.

“The owner of Carden Park has a house on site with a private drive flanked by an avenue of lime trees. We cut the branches of the limes at 1.6 metres, then fold down the ROPS on the Ventrac and stripe the lawn beneath the trees. It looks fantastic with the uniform height of the skirt and the stripes down the drive.

“The drive from the main road to the hotel is just over a mile and we have 30 miles of cart paths across the two golf courses and the estate. That’s actually 60 miles of edging to be undertaken and, as you would expect, the Edger attachment save us thousands of hours a year.

“I believe that any estate in the country should have a least one Ventrac. It’s safe and easy to operate, highly manoeuvrable, comfortable, reliable, but most of all, it’s versatile with so many different attachments.

“Our current rough mowers are great machines and do a brilliant job, but they are big and therefore quite heavy machines. When we are wet here, and that’s quite often, they can’t leave the maintenance shed; in some instances, they can sit there for six months and they are expensive pieces of kit. I’m seriously considering bringing in another two Ventracs, dedicated to the winter maintenance of our roughs and fairways. The light footprint means they can go out in all weathers.

“On our fairways the issue of worm casts is only getting worse; you get a build up on the rollers, this affects the height of cut and it dulls the cylinder blades. To keep us going through the winter, we use a Ventrac and Contour deck set at 19mm, to top the grass once a week. Again, it’s the light footprint of the machine, especially when in 8-wheel mode, that allows us to do this.

“One of the interesting aspects of Ventrac entering the market is that third-party manufacturers are now adapting their equipment to provide bespoke accessories. As I mentioned earlier, we are having a sprayer made, in conjunction with the distributor Price Turfcare, for vine spraying, but we are also looking at turf tyres so that it can be used for spraying dew suppressants and moisture control products on our greens during the winter.

“The last piece of kit I purchased for the Ventrac was their three-point linkage for the rear of the machine. When we’re out managing our heathland and woodland margins, I can put the stump grinder on the front and carry the Tough Cut deck on the back. This allows the operator to be self-sufficient with the tools needed to complete the task without returning to the maintenance shed.

“And that brings me back to its main attribute and that’s its versatility. It can do so many jobs. It’s the perfect size, not too heavy, so we can use it in the winter months and not too light that it can’t handle the implements. It has uplifted the presentation of the estate; it’s simply a no-brainer purchase for any golf course or estate manager.”


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick June 6, 2024 10:05
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