The first Toro Greensmaster 3 ride-on mower was sold to the West Herts Golf Club in Hertfordshire in 1969. And fifty years later the GM3 is back at the club where it all began, united with the person who sold it all those years ago.
Rochelle Bedford, marketing manager at Reesink Turfcare, the sole Toro distributor in the UK for golf and sports fields equipment and irrigation products, says: “As Toro celebrates its centennial milestone serving the golf industry across the world, it encouraged us to look back at how it all began for Toro in the UK.
“We discovered that the very first GM3 sold in the UK was still going 50 years later! Also uncovered was the club that bought the machine and who sold it!”
The person in question, John Cockburn, tells us how it all came about: “I was working for Flymo in 1968 when I was told we’d be receiving a prototype of a new machine to trial and debut at a three-day exhibition in Meyrick Park in Bournemouth. That machine was the Toro Greensmaster 3.
“I was working with two demonstrators, Graham Pooley and Geoff Urquhart, at the time and seeing as none of us had used the machine, we decided to ask Meyrick Park Golf Club, which neighboured the exhibition centre, if we could trial the machine there. They kindly said yes, so early in the morning of the first day of the show we cut all the greens at the club to see how the machine performed.
“We were all really impressed, and with a better knowledge of how well the machine worked we cleaned it down and returned it to our show stand. We were able to demonstrate the machine with more confidence and got good feedback from customers.”
And it was this positive response which led to Flymo ordering 14 machines when they launched, the first of which John promptly installed at West Herts Golf Club. Many things have changed over the years, but there are some constants. Installation training upon delivery and the brand’s reputation for producing long-lasting, reliable mowers to name just a couple.
John says: “The machines proved to be extremely reliable, doing a first-class job and quickly building up a good reputation. We easily sold all 14 of the GM3 mowers in that first year, along with others that followed.”
Andy Smith, course manager at West Herts Golf Club since 1993, says it was a ‘blast from the past’ having the GM3 back at the club: “Seeing the GM3 really took me back to how things used to be. West Herts is a Toro club through and through. From the very beginning it recognised the quality of Toro and all these years later, we still consider it to be the brand to be beaten.”
In the early-80s Lely UK, as now Reesink, took over the distribution of Toro and what has built up since is a reputation centered on reliability, durability and support, says David Cole, managing director of Reesink.
“The Toro Greensmaster 3 was an innovative ride-on product born from Toro’s established golf focus and it projected the brand into the UK as a producer of high quality, innovative golf equipment. Since then a mutual trust has developed between our customers, us as distributor and Toro which can be truly viewed as a partnership. We’re extremely proud to have represented Toro and its product values for so many years and we thank our UK golf customers for their long-standing loyalty, confidence and trust.”