When Jim McKenzie moved from Wentworth to Celtic Manor Resort, near Newport, South Wales, in the early 90s, he was closely involved with the in-house construction of the now widely respected Roman Road golf course. Needing a wide range of equipment for the work, he asked around to see whom he could rely upon for the supply of hired-in tractors, trailers and construction kit. Chris Hopkins from Newport based Ted Hopkins headed the list.
“I got on well with Chris,” says Mr McKenzie. “We needed a great deal of equipment to construct the course, work continuing on our second course as the Roman Road was opened for play. We used all Toro mowing equipment at the time too, this being supplied by a dealer based in Carmarthen. Chris Hopkins subsequently took over the Toro franchise and we have been working with him and his team ever since.”
If this suggests Mr McKenzie is taking an easy option of just using his nearest dealer, Chris Hopkins being just 6 miles from the Celtic Manor Resort, then this is certainly not the case. As a high profile resort that now has three 18-hole courses, Celtic Manor is never short of offers from all key manufactures to try different mowers, aerators and other equipment. Further, Jim McKenzie says he has to keep an eye on new equipment and developments.
“We are in a people business,” he says. “We are keenly aware that golfers have access to some really good clubs and golf courses locally. We cannot simply rely upon the reputation of our courses to attract players and tournaments. We have to work hard to deliver a complete and positive experience of playing at Celtic Manor. Similarly, Chris Hopkins and Lely do not just assume we will continue to work with them. They have built a really good working relationship that they work hard to maintain. The support offered by both when we hosted the 2010 Ryder Cup helped demonstrate their commitment.”
McKenzie has long been a user of dedicated greens rollers, his experience with vibrating rollers on a triples mower having been less than positive. Further, he describes dedicated greens rollers as being in his top six items of equipment. At the end of last year, Chris Hopkins brought along a Toro GreensPro 1200 for the team at Celtic Manor to try, the unit remaining with the resort as it did exactly what was asked of it.
“A firm, consistent green is critical,” adds Mr McKenzie. “We have been running alterative makes of dedicated rollers for a while now and had been sharing them between courses. Now, each course has its own greens roller. We did look at a triple mounted vibrating roller system but it produced inconsistent results. This was not helped by us having a lot of rain during the trial period, highlighting a problem where we found the triple’s wheels sunk in deeper than the rolled area. This defeated the reason for rolling. With the GreensPro 1200 it runs solely on its rollers, delivering even firmness across the green.”
Celtic Manor Resort welcomes around 100,000 golfers a year to its three courses, the Twenty Ten that hosted the 2010 Ryder Cup, the original Roman Road course and the dramatic par-69 Montgomerie. Covering around 1,400 acres, the Resort employs 750 people, with a core emphasis placed upon customer care. As Jim McKenzie says, great facilities count for nothing if guests and golfers do not feel welcome and do not make a return visit.
Toro turf products are distributed throughout mainland UK by Lely (UK) Limited, 1 Station Road, St Neots PE19 1QH. Call 01480 226800, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.toro.com / www.lely.com for further details. And in Ireland by Lely Ireland Limited, Kilboggin, Nurney, Co. Kildare. Call 00 353 (0)45 526170 or email email@example.com.
Celtic Manor Resort www.celtic-manor.com