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Kevin Ross selects top new products from GCSAA show

Kevin Ross selects top new products from GCSAA show

Ross, Kevin

ORLANDO, Fla. – While walking the trade show floor, there was a decidedly quieter buzz than usual surrounding new equipment debuts. Whether it was because of the events of Sept. 11 or company cutbacks and slowdowns, ground breaking new products were few and far between. However, some new products were hot topics of discussion on the show floor among superintendents.

NEW AND HOT * My Debut of the Show goes to the miniature foam marking kits. These kits are designed for use with walking rotary or drop spreaders. Although foam kits have been around for years, and Salvarani North America displayed their prototype last year in Dallas, these have certainly been needed for years. Superintendents can now eliminate all those old marking tricks such as gloves, golf balls, flags, and paint. – The Super CourtMaster compact automatic leveling system from Laser Leveling gets the Runner-up DebutAward. Sure these have also been around for a few years, but not in the correct size that would benefit many areas on the golf course. This new leveling system will come in two different configurations, in either an attachment directly mounted to a Smithco bunker rake (marketed with Smithco) or as an independent pull unit to use with other rake manufacturers. This is the ultimate in-house unit for grading tees.

While on the subject of bunker rakes, one of the more interesting equipment debuts from a major manufacturer has to go to the folks at Smithco. The debut of their E-Star Rake gets my ElectricAward.

Electric equipment has yet to hit a home run in the golf business, but an electric bunker rake just may have the potential to take off. Briggs and Stratton’s revolutionary new E-tek motor powers this rake, which is quieter, more powerful, and more efficient than its predecessors. An electric rake not only offers the benefit of earlier start times where noise ordinances are in place, but also offers greater versatility to work around golfers.

* My Attachments Award goes to all the companies that are trying to develop the perfect bunker machine rake attachment. Each year there are several new configurations in search of the best raking pattern. This year again there was an array of new brushes, fingers, rakes, and brooms for different tastes.

The most interesting Reel Mower Concept Award goes to the Jacobsen LF 1880 fairway unit. This new unit fits between a present day tri-plex and fiveplex. Its design features 18-inch cutting units that are advertised to follow contours better than anything on the market. Its 80-inch cut also lends itself to an aesthetically pleasing mowing pattern along with very low compaction weight per square inch. Time will tell if this becomes an industry standard. On the surface, it sure seems interesting.

* Another mower which attracted attention and receives my Rotary Mower Award is the Toro 4500D and the 4700D. These machines are similar to the old RansomesAR250, which has made such a big splash over the last five years. The 4500D offers a 5-deck configuration, while the 4700D offers a 7-deck configuration. Toro certainly had ample time to learn from the faults of the AR250, and it appears they have addressed all the issues with their design.

* To all the topdressing unit manufacturers, I bestow the Versatility Award. When you browse through the different booths, you can’t help but think where we were ten years ago with these units. Fairway topdressers were almost nonexistent, and now every manufacturer has their own model. Turfco introduced new refinements with the WideSpin 1530. This unit is being advertised as the dual-purpose machine, to address both super light topdressings and heavier applications for aerification purposes.

OLD BUT STILL SIMMERING * Some items, although not new in Orlando, are still hot topics of discussions. The Graden dethacher/verticutter has become maybe the hottest topic in present day turf management. This unit has gathered some amazing steam since its debut. So much so that it receives my Imitation is the Best Form of Flattery Award. At least three other companies have put their Graden version on the market. All the credit should not solely go to Graden, however. The development of the “Superbents” and “Ultradwarfs” certainlyhasgiven this machine an assist in its popularity.

* The Toro Flex 21 gets the Hottest Mowing Unit Award. After its debut in Dallas last year, this mower is riding a wave of incredible popularity. It far exceeded its sales projections for 2001, and Toro is looking forward to an even bigger year in 2002. This year Toro has added a groomer and two different brush attachments as options for the Flex unit.

These are all’the items that caught my eye at “The Big Show” in Orlando. I can’t wait to see what Atlanta 2003 can deliver.0

Copyright United Publications, Inc. Mar 2002

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