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Toro and Reesink Turfcare, an official UK supplier of Toro, have long advocated innovation through renovation in its irrigation strategy, but more often than not customers have a sprinkler upgrade rather than the integration of a central control system. Blackpool North Shore provides a classic example of how, when it comes to renovation with Toro, it doesn’t matter which part of the system needs replacing success is sure to follow.

Course manager Andy Moore says: "There was no question about it, Blackpool North Shore needed a new central control system. Ours was 13 years old and left unsupported by a brand which had subsequently left the sector. The main issues we had to rectify were getting the control system talking to the sprinklers again and improving operation. "In recent years, things were held together by hand-watering and returning to the course out of hours and late at night to apply water. Obviously, that wasn’t a sustainable situation, but the shortfallings of the system were really highlighted to everyone in the drought of last year.

By then I’d been appointed course manager and this was the project with which I could make my mark.” Andy had whittled his decision down to two control systems and says Toro Lynx triumphed thanks to its technological benefits and the thorough and comprehensive demonstration provided by Reesink. "Not only did Peter Newton come to demo the system to myself and the team and took his time explaining all the USPs, but he came back and went through everything again in a presentation to the board.

That made all the difference, everyone bought into it and knew what we were investing in.” Installation was completed by Rob Green by Green Irrigation in just a couple of days, to deliver Blackpool North Shore a system more than capable of working with any sprinkler or weather station, no matter its age or brand. As long as the correct sprinkler data is entered into Lynx, no matter what the brand of sprinkler is being used – and all can be catered for – the result will be accurate watering, as Andy confirms: "The Lynx system has delivered a level of accuracy and consistency we haven’t had in many years.

We can now irrigate in millimetres. It’s incredible really and can all be done via the mobile app, which myself and my deputy Dan are finding to be a real benefit and so easy to use.” Stage one of the irrigation refit is the first step in an all-encompassing plan of course improvements, says Andy: "We’re bringing definition to the fairways of this Harry Colt-designed course. At the moment the fairways are rolling and each seems to roll into the next. By adding gorse plants and pathways we hope to improve the presentation of the course for our members and visitors. We’re also reducing the number of bunkers significantly and making those we keep have revetted faces, and we’ll be releveling the tees.” And, of course, stage two of the irrigation refit will be taking place. The sprinklers will be replaced for either Toro Infinity or Flex, depending on which suits the club’s system and course best. The Flex Sprinkler has the same riser to Infinity, just a different body.

Andy continues: "We’re trialling four Infinity sprinklers on the 18th green at the moment and they’re performing really well. I’ve heard good things about Toro Flex too so the jury’s out for the moment. What I can say is, it’ll definitely be Toro we go for! "We’re a relatively small greenkeeping team and anything we can do to ease the pressure and load is going to be something we’ll consider. Most of the course improvements we have planned will go some way in helping make the day-to-day maintenance and care of the course easier to manage.

The same applies to the irrigation. Technology – and Toro – have proven that one simple change, done in a couple of days, can make all the difference.” Some have credited Toro’s Lynx control system with bringing industry buzzwords 'interchangeable' and 'future-proof' irrigation to life, and Blackpool North Shore is the latest living proof in how simple and quick it is to deliver that kind of improvement. ENDS