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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66 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 02.18 cross was eventually refined with the aid of as many as 1,000 potential customers worldwide. "It took superintendents a little while to understand it. Once they did, we heard, 'Yeah, that could really fit into my operation.' We utilized that data, that input, and built a business model," Ferguson says. "We needed a solid business case. We determined the vol - umes that we could anticipate selling based on the customer research and the selling price. It had to be a compelling enough case to pro - vide assurance that if we spent this amount of money on developing this project and bring - ing it to market, we would be successful be- cause we've done the research to confirm that there's a global demand for it." The Outcross, which can reach speeds over 20 mph, was designed to operate like a car with an automatic transmission, the company says. It has gas and brake pedals, and the operator simply selects forward or reverse to get going. "When this goes out on the course to aerate, the machine is balanced with the aerator on the rear, so it does not require additional front counterweights for running Toro-tested-and- approved aerators. That's a big advantage over a tractor," Wahl says. "They (superintendents, turf managers) want control, and you see it in all aspects of their operations. They want to know how much chemical they're spraying, how much fertilizer they're applying, and they have to know because they're being asked to re - port back on all of this and to be more efficient. A lot of that has led us to where we are, with giving them control on how this machine is going to be operated with various attachments." Superintendent Curt Sheffer (right) won the name-the-machine contest. His prizes include a trip to this month's Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. Here he is with Toro product marketing manager Noah Wahl, who surprised Sheffer with the news during an October visit to Sheffer's facility. from the engine to an attached implement) while being as light and gentle on the turf as possible." Street gained a key ally in Jack Gust, chief research and development engineer at Toro. "Ben and I talked about it. A lot. We said, 'Let's take a shot at it.' We made a crude mockup, took a Groundsmaster 4000-D hood, some - body's steering wheel, wheels from a top- dresser, and it didn't have an engine," Gust says. "Most ag tractors have a lot of weight in the rear and big tires. Conceptually, we agreed the tires should be small, wide, weight-biased toward the front, and maneuverable." Street and Gust showcased their mockup at Toro's annual Turf Professionals Club, an event where turf managers are brought in to view prospective future product offerings. "It was a chance to vet it and ask customers if we were on the right track," Gust says. "They were intrigued. We said it would be a 60-hp machine, and we made a second mockup with more attachments. It resonated with them as something that could do more things and that you could even use in winter." Gaining traction The Outcross underwent some changes during the prototype phase. For instance, four- wheel steering was added. So was an actual en - gine. When the development team was again ready to pitch the idea to management, it fol - lowed a tireless effort of due diligence, includ- ing the input of potential customers (superin- tendents in various regions got to test it at their facilities), which was paramount. The Out - The name game "Hybrid." That was the first word that came to mind when Curt Sheffer saw a new maintenance machine that The Toro Co. first unveiled last year. Referred to as "Project Delta" when it was first displayed at the 2017 Golf Industry Show in Orlando, Toro staged a name-the-machine contest, and Sheffer — an 11-year GCSAA member who oversees The Plantation Course at Edisto in Edisto Beach, S.C. — took to the internet for guidance as he prepared to submit his entry. "Hybrid has been used a lot, so I searched," Sheffer says. "One word that caught my eye when I was looking around was 'outcrossing,' which I see as taking the best of two things and combining them. The words 'outdoor' and 'cross' came to mind and made sense. I decided on 'Outcross.'" Obviously, Toro thought Sheffer's choice had plenty of merit. In October, the company announced it had selected Sheffer's submission as the winner from the nearly 1,600 entries it had received, an announcement that also served as the official introduction of the new Outcross. Sheffer had no idea that he had won until Toro surprised him. "My local salesman, Steve Miller of Smith Turf & Irrigation, left me a message to come out to the course. He really didn't tell me why," Sheffer says. "Steve and Noah (Wahl, Toro's product marketing manager) showed up. We were just recovering from (Hurricane) Irma, and we were stressed out over cleanup, on edge. The timing was impeccable — a real nice surprise after some rough weeks." Among Sheffer's prizes for winning the contest — valued at more than $3,000 — are a trip to the Golf Industry Show this month in San Antonio, airfare, three nights of lodging, a $500 Visa gift card and entry to the GCSAA Golf Championship. "I get the opportunity to go (to GIS) normally if I fund a lot of it myself. I wasn't planning on going to GIS, so this is great," Sheffer says. Tony Ferguson, Toro's senior golf marketing and business development manager, says many submissions included the word 'Workman' in them, but Toro already has a Workman in its lineup. Outcross, though, sure felt right. "I don't think we ever would have come up with Outcross on our own. But it's such a perfect fit by definition," Ferguson says. — H.R.

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