Play it as it lies is perhaps the oldest adage in golf. Thanks to a bit of Toro experimentation in the form of universal groomers, pro golfers will soon play from the finest fairway lies possible.
In preparations for the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills Golf Club, Toro and Erin Hills technicians were in Sussex, WI — working alongside Reinders’ service technicians — in early May 2016 to retrofit the front of a Reelmaster 3550-D with grooming brushes that ensure the fine fescue fairways found at Erin Hills will make the ball sit up like they were on a clean-cut tee box.
“Pro golfers notice the subtleties in grass grain, even in the fairway,” says Jerry Kershasky, Reinders service director of equipment. “This was a special request from Erin Hills to ensure that pros won’t be hitting into, or with the grain – but rather will have a near-perfect lie to play from.”
Single-direction universal groomers were used to assists cuts at the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay outside of Seattle, WA, however the Toro team has added multi-directional functionality to the groomers, ensuring the blades are trimming grass that’s standing at attention no matter the direction crews are mowing in.
In addition to standardizing the lies pros will find on Erin Hills’ fairways, there are also positive environmental benefits to work being done by Toro and Reinders.
“The relatively light, 24-horse diesel mower has very good fuel economy, and the modified groomers create a clean cut allowing for perfection with fewer mows – this provides a low impact on the soil,” Kershasky says. Both fuel economy and low-impact cuts are in keeping with Erin Hills’ environmentally conscious approach. “Erin Hills’ fine fescue doesn’t require as many chemicals, or as much water, so the carbon footprint is very low.”
Gary Johnson, an experimental specialist from Toro’s development lab, was working alongside Reinders’ technicians Chris Savers and Rich Baker to zero-in the groomers, sharpen blades, and ensure the big red Toro is a fine-tuned machine come June 2017.
In total, there will be six modified Reelmaster 3550-Ds coifing and cutting fairways at Erin Hills – all to ensure the pros are playing from the most perfect lie possible.