Golf Course Management

FEB 2018

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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64 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 02.18 "Things come and go, maybe don't work as we wanted or didn't have the value expected, which is fine. That's what we do. But good ideas eventually catch on." — Rex Bergsten posed a machine that would evolve into the Outcross, admits that it has been quite a jour - ney. "It's been a complicated, complex process, but a rewarding process to make this happen. It's been a long time coming," Wahl says. Odyssey of an idea The pros and cons of potential products such as the Outcross 9060 are first addressed by the Minneapolis-based company's Center for Advanced Turf Technologies (CATT). Al - though Toro has always had a research and de- velopment (R&D) department comprised of engineers and agronomists, the CATT desig - nation was formally established in 1998. "This group is tasked with understanding and solving various customer problems and needs through innovation and technology," says Tony Ferguson, Toro's senior golf mar - keting and business development manager. "They focus on delivering solutions related to broader industry trends, such as water man - agement, labor efficiency, and environmental concerns. Once proven viable, their concepts are transitioned to Toro's core engineering and marketing functions for further research, refinement, development, testing and mar - ket launch." CATT team members are constantly working on prototypes to prove out their ideas and inventions, Ferguson says, adding that several prototypes are currently in vari - ous stages of conceptual validation and re- finement. At one time, what would become the Outcross was among those. "Ben's idea was gestating for a long time," Ferguson says. "Some ideas outside the mainstream are very fragile initially and require a champion to nur - ture them along." Rex Bergsten, a chief development en - gineer at Toro, says, "Things come and go, maybe don't work as we wanted or didn't have the value expected, which is fine. That's what we do. But good ideas eventually catch on." Street, meanwhile, continued to state his case. "Ben said ag tractors have big rear wheels, are built for pulling big things, but they're not built for sensitive turf," Ferguson says. "It didn't make sense to him that you use an ag tractor and apply it to professional turf, so he came up with the concept to make something turf-friendly, and to balance out the weight. It was talked about for a long time, but it just never got to the level of priority to where we would fund the development of it." Street admits it was frustrating that his idea was slow to gain traction. "The argument was that we couldn't compete with a tractor. I said, 'It's not really a tractor.' I pitched the idea as 'gentle power.' I envisioned a machine that could provide around 50-hp PTO (power takeoff, which, in essence, transfers power Toro research and development senior principle design engineer Ben Street pitched an idea in 1989 for a machine that wasn't an ag tractor that could feature attachments that would do well on sensitive turf.

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