Toro Celebrates 100 Years Serving the Golf Industry

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Centennial milestone made possible through customer relationships, innovation and distribution network

The Toro Company has reached the 100-year mark in serving the golf industry. In 1919, Toro developed the industry’s first motorized fairway mower, the Toro Standard Golf Machine, for The Minikahda Club, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. By mounting five individual reel mowers onto the front of a farm tractor, Toro helped courses increase productivity by replacing the labor and time intensive use of horse-drawn equipment.

Toro credits their longevity in the industry to four key factors – listening closely to its customers, developing innovative products based on feedback and available technology, long-standing customer relationships, and establishing close cooperative ties with an outstanding distribution network to deliver great local service and support.

This formula has led to revolutionary product launches and an ever expanding breadth of product offerings over the last century.  Well-known brands such as Greensmaster®, Reelmaster®, Groundsmaster®, Workman®, ProCore®, MultiPro®, SandPro® and others have become synonymous with quality, durability and value.  

A few historic examples of innovations for the golf course industry include the first flexible frame fairway mower in 1921, the first golf utility vehicle — the Toro Knockabout — in 1930, new valve-in-head sprinklers in 1964, the versatile Toro Sand Pro series in 1972, the first contour-following Flex Head greensmowers in 1986,  and the first lithium-ion powered greensmower — the Greensmaster eFlex — in 2012.

Toro’s people are also largely responsible for the longevity of the company. Topping the long list of influential Toro employees over the past century is the company’s first president and co-founder, John Samuel Clapper, who personally held several patents for golf course equipment, including the first electric-powered (corded) greensmower in 1928. Also on that list is Dr. James “Doc” Watson, who joined Toro in 1952, and is revered as a pioneer in agronomics, a teacher to customers and Toro employees alike, and a legend in the golf industry.  Another industry pioneer who worked with Toro is John Singleton, who joined the company in 1967 and was instrumental in establishing Toro’s position as a leader in golf course irrigation.

“Without a doubt, we owe much of our success to the Toro employees who have helped shape the golf industry with countless innovations,” said Rick Rodier, vice president and general manager of Toro’s Commercial Business. “But we wouldn’t be here today without the Toro customers across the globe who put their faith and trust in our products every day. As we celebrate a century in the golf industry, we simply want to say thank you to our customers and channel partners for continuing to put your trust in Toro people and products.”

The Toro Company was founded on July 10, 1914, and for the first five years focused primarily on providing engines for the Bull Tractor Company and other tractor and truck companies, and developing the first Toro-designed piece of farm equipment – the power cultivator – before shifting focus to mowing products. To learn more, visit

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