Andy Baker, Head Greenkeeper at Ely City Golf Course in Cambridgeshire, believes that his use of ICL products have significantly improved the high wear areas on the course despite facing unfavourable weather conditions and heavy usage.
Andy, who has been at Ely City GC for over twelve years, tends to the 55 year-old, 18-hole parkland course. Designed by the legendary Henry Cotton, the course boasts a large membership and is heavily played on all year round, as Andy explains.
“We’re in a good catchment area – there is no other course for about 15 miles, and with more golfers comes more wear. The course sees a couple of hundred rounds each day at the weekends so it is very busy. We get a lot of wear on the tees, wear around the greens and on narrow points across a lot of the ditches.
“The course is a heavy clay site with a lot of ryegrass and we’re 15 to 40 metres above sea level so we get a lot of moisture and it is incredibly wet in the winter. Admittedly it can be a struggle dealing with so much wear under low-grow and wet conditions - therefore it all comes down to having the right products in place.”
Andy relies upon three core products from ICL in which he applies an annual base feed to the tees and approaches of Sierrablen Plus 24-5-8 +2MgO to provide a long-term nutrient release. To ensure the health of the turf remains in optimum condition, every four weeks he then applies a combination of Primo Maxx plant growth regulator and either Sportsmaster WSF High N 35-0-14+0.13Fe or High K 15-0-43+0.13Fe, This combination is used every 5 weeks on the fairways.
This tank-mix delivers the correct amount of nutrients through Sportsmaster WSF while at the same time Primo Maxx reduces top growth and boosts sward density and root mass. The popular combination has proved to be a winning formula for greenkeepers throughout the UK and beyond and Andy is no exception.
“We put the Sierrablen Plus down at the beginning of March at about 30g per square metre. It offers excellent longevity – 9 months comfortably, so it keeps us in a good strong condition going into the winter period.
“From when we first apply it in March, the quality just shows straight away and then of course we keep that topped up with the Sportsmaster WSF and Primo Maxx combo. We started this approach on tees to start with and saw great results from that, so the following year we then took it out to our approaches, fairways and other high wear areas.
“We’ve noticed a big difference and have seen an improvement in sward density, presentation and colour and we are also getting less worm castings as a result. Generally, the overall quality of the course has improved, the signs of wear on those areas has decreased and the members have noticed the results.
“Since using these ICL products, the quality of the greens has improved so much that they are now as good in winter as they are in the summer. If you’re cutting your grass at 3mm you’re putting a lot more stress on it so you need to be putting the correct nutrient into it and this is what we get from the Primo Maxx and the regular feeding.”
Andy has also been involved with some ICL and Syngenta trial work, which he believes has only reinforced his decision to use the products.
“By trialing these products it puts me in a position where I can say whether a certain product is better than another one because it has gone head to head on the same area. My job is to make the course the best it can be and if there are new products coming out then of course I want to be trialing them and comparing them. It proves to me that I am using the finest products and I also share my thoughts with other greenkeepers.