Pete Smith, Course Manager at the highly exclusive Birch Grove Estate in Sussex has reported ‘phenomenal’ results from using Sherriff Amenity’s Aqua-Zorb wetting agent to bring his fairways back to life.
Situated in 1200 acres of undulating Sussex countryside, lies Birch Grove Estate. It is the former home of Sir Harold Macmillan, former Prime Minister, and visitors to the house have included Sir Winston Churchill, General Charles De Gaulle and, just a couple of weeks before his assassination, John F Kennedy.
While these extraordinary visitors would have no doubt enjoyed the luxuries and stunning views afforded by Birch Grove, they would not have had a chance to play a round of golf on the magnificent 18-hole course in the grounds.
It wasn’t until 1986 when new owner and Asian businessman, Larry Yung, gained planning permission to build the course on the provision that it was to be purely for private use. Work eventually began on the Donald Steel designed course in 1994, and it was completed in 1996. However, for reasons unknown, Yung began to lose interest in his course and for next few years it was maintained as a 9-hole course with barely any golf played on it.
This all changed in 2011 when the current owners purchased Birch Grove and decided to return the course to its former glory. Having played a part in the original construction, Pete Smith – experienced greenkeeper and then course manager at the Cavendish Club, was brought in to reinstate the course.
Following a highly successful renovation, the 18-hole course is now 7,000 yards long, with the greens and tees constructed to USGA specification. The course remains ‘purely by invitation only’ and a maximum of 150 rounds of golf are played a year on it. It could be argued that Birch Grove Estate is the most exclusive golf course in the country.
Pete along with two other full-time greenkeepers tend to the course and no stone is left un-turned. So when his fairways started to take a turn for the worse, he was quick to find a solution.
“We have irrigation on the greens, tees and approaches but we don’t have fairway irrigation and I have never really used a wetting agent on them,” says Pete. “However, this year has been ridiculously dry and it got to the stage where in early July I was starting to look at the fairways thinking that they are actually going beyond dormant. We were starting to lose large parts of the fairway where we have not had any irrigation or any rainfall.
“So after speaking Joseph Dormer (Amenity Specialist for Sherriff Amenity), he suggested using the Aqua-Zorb Liquid as a curative effect and we thought we’d give it a go.”
Aqua-Zorb Liquid from Sherriff Amenity is a concentrated non-ionic turf wetting agent that will enable water to move faster and deeper into the soil profile. One application can last all season and it is renowned for treating the cause of Localised Dry Patch. Aqua-Zorb can also improve drainage, alleviate compaction, reduce the quantity of irrigation required, suppress the formation of dew and greatly improve the quality of the sward.
Upon applying Aqua-Zorb it is recommended that the operator should immediately irrigate with a minimum 3mm of water, or spray during rainfall – which, with no fairway irrigation, Pete relied on. However, what he thought would be a passing shower actually turned out to be far much more.
“Without fairway irrigation I was reliant on rainfall so I waited until it started raining before applying the Aqua-Zorb. It ended up absolutely chucking it down - literally the last couple of fairways I was spraying the product on were virtually flooding with surface water sitting on them. I ended up with about 16mm of rainfall which is pretty much four times the water volume that is required. At the time I was convinced that, due to the heavy rain, it wasn’t going to work. I believed it would just wash off and I thought I had just wasted all of the product.
“But coming back two days later I was amazed to see the fairways ‘greening up’ - the results were truly phenomenal. The proof, bizarrely that it worked, was that I missed a couple of areas, and you could clearly see where I had applied the wetting agent and where I hadn’t. At the time of spraying, I thought it wouldn’t matter if I left a 2ft line between my spray widths because it I felt it would leach and move with the heavy rain water that was coming down.
But it didn’t, it just stayed there and that actually gave me the evidence that the Aqua-Zorb had actually done an amazing job. I said to Joseph that it must have been like super glue!
“I will absolutely, un-questionably, use Aqua-Zorb in the spring next year as my six month fairway wetting agent. I will put it down with 100% confidence because I know how heavy that rainfall was. It was quite incredible seeing the results from this year and I know I won’t have to worry anymore about my fairways burning off or be concerned about losing them if we have another dry spell.”
As well as being a fan of Aqua-Zorb, Pete was also quick to praise the customer service he receives from Sherriff Amenity’s Joseph Dormer.
“Customer service is excellent – Joseph is relatively new in his role and having previously been a greenkeeper he is extremely knowledgeable. I know that he is always on the end of the phone for any back-up or agronomy issues.
“Not a lot of people are aware of actually how good this product is but Joe has looked into it, researched it and is confident in it. He hasn’t pushed it onto me – he simply came to me in a time of trouble and found me a solution. I took his advice and I’m pleased I did!”
For further information, please contact Sherriff Amenity on 01638 721 888 or visit www.sherriffamenity.com