Ashley Oakes, Course Manager at Wychwood Golf Club, has explained how an integrated turf management programme from ICL helped him to rebuild the course after an extreme summer drought.
In the summer of 2018 golf clubs faced an unprecedented two-plus months of extremely hot and dry weather. Many courses were left brown, damaged, and susceptible to disease – Wychwood Golf Course, in Weston, Crewe, was no exception.
“We had so many weeks without any rain, and it is safe to say we got fried,” said Ashley.
“We lost a substantial amount of grass, and it gave us a chance to reassess everything. It was time to hit the default button and restart.”
It was at this point that Ashley got in touch with ICL and he admitted to being instantly impressed by the company’s ‘work ethic and policies.’
Phil Collinson, Technical Area Sales Manager for ICL, visited Ashley shortly after the drought and it wasn’t long before a plan was devised.
“I listened to the challenges that Ashley faced and then put together a bespoke plan to solve those issues,” said Phil. “We identified the correct products and together we sat down to look at all the trial data behind them. When the stakes are so high, Course Managers haven’t got time to gamble. That was certainly the case at Wychwood.”
Ashley claims that it would be difficult to highlight every product in the integrated turf management programme but provided an overview on how some of them have made a difference.
As a wetting agent, he relies on ICL’s H2Pro TriSmart, which he aims to apply at a rate of 10 L/ha once a month from March onwards. It is formulated with three water management surfactant technologies to provide great water penetration, even water spread through the rootzone and to improve the water holding capacity of sandy rootzones.
“We’ve got USGA sand-based greens here and we needed something that would deal with that level of construction,” he said. “TriSmart gives us that consistency throughout the rootzone, it gets rid of that dry patch, and it gives us the required effect for what we want both visually and for the grass. It has also meant that we have irrigated less.
“With such big undulating greens, to get consistency across such large areas I think speaks volumes for the TriSmart technology.”
Once Ashley knew there was a wetting agent in place that would perform, his next focus was to ensure there was a product in the programme that would help to negate any stresses. For this reason, Phil recommended Vitalnova Links – a unique formulation consisting of Vitalnova Blade and Vitalnova SMX.
“We brought Vitalnova Links in to improve the heavily stressed situation on the greens and it helped them to recover,” said Ashley. “We needed the plant to be healthier but not receive the kick that a conventional fertiliser would do. Instead, it helps to reduce stress on the plant and get that health in a natural way. It has worked so well, and we even incorporate this product into our Primo Maxx II growth regulator programme on the greens.”
In terms of a granular fertiliser, Ashley knew exactly what he was looking for during the cooler months of the year.
“I wanted health, vitality, and presentation through the whole year including winter, and this is why we use Greenmaster Pro-Lite Invigorator 4-0-8,” he said.
“Using this product has improved turf quality and performance through the challenging autumn months and helps to drive that recovery growth before we switch to liquids in the summer.
“One thing I have noticed is that in challenging conditions, ICL’s granular fertilisers still work whereas other brands will scorch and cause discolouration. You will never get that with an ICL product.
“Modern greenkeeping puts us in a position where we need to rely on quality products and that is why we continue to use ICL.”