Yahoo Sports got an all access tour of The Grove, London's Country Estate where the American National Football League stay and play when they are in the UK. The Grove installed their own fully functional soccer pitch last year for the use of the premiership teams from all over the world who stay there. The pitch at The Grove is the UK's first Eclipse Hybrid Turf pitch, grown and supplied by Lincolnshire turf growers County Turf.
Case Study - The Grove Hotel, Watford
As one of the newest and most advanced playing surfaces in the world, Eclipse has certainly made an impressive entrance to the UK sportsturf market; replacing the soil practice pitch at 'The Grove Hotel' in Watford in August 2014, one of the 'leading hotels of the world'. A former home of the Earls of Clarendon and favourite weekend destination of Queen Victoria, this 5 star hotel is now a championship golf resort, award winning spa and home to a practice pitch used by many professional sports teams who stay and train at The Grove, including England, Barcelona, Spurs and the American Football teams from the National Football League when they head to England ahead of their annual fixtures at Wembley stadium.
Co-owner of The Grove, Chris Andrews said: "Our original pitch was constructed by M J Abbott one year after the golf course and the Hotel had opened. Despite being extremely well received whenever used over a number of years - Arsenal, Real Madrid, Barcelona, England, Barbarians Rugby team to name but a few happy customers, we all recognised that we would have to invest in a new surface if we were to meet the increasing demands from both the FA and the NFL."
"We started to look at what alternatives there were available to us in the market place. We quickly discounted full fibre and Desso options because the nature of business at The Grove is that whilst we need to be able to deal with relatively short periods of intense use, this usage is not consistent throughout the whole year and therefore the quantum of investment was not justifiable."
"We needed to come with a more imaginative solution and this is where County Turf, ably assisted by our agronomist Charles Henderson from PSD Agronomy Ltd took up the reins and came up with the solution we have today."
Charles Henderson explained why he recommended the use of Eclipse for this project: " A solution to fit in with The Grove's unique business model was required, the hotel had a pitch with functional drainage and positive levels. American Football use combined with shade present on the pitch ruled out more traditional rootzone reinforcement systems and complete reconstruction of the pitch was not being considered. Motz Eclipse provided flexibility to work with the existing pitch drainage in place and achieve the necessary improvements without complete reconstruction of the pitch profile whilst providing high levels of confidence in surface stability. This resulted in significant project savings for The Grove. In addition the turf being grown off site provided much more flexibility for timing of the works".
Chris Andrews continued: "The prospect of having a fibre based product which still needed to be grown-in and looked after using more traditional groundsmen / greenkeeping skills was extremely appealing to us and Mr Chiverton! The growing and installation of the turf was undertaken by County Turf to a very high standard and we were very impressed with the commitment and support from Andy Fraser, Chris Medley and the team.
Regarding maintenance and nutrition of the turf, this is relatively straightforward with regular applications of granular and foliar feeds and bio stimulants for plant health and rooting. Nitrogen applications are less than full root-zone pitches around 450 kilos per ha. The key is not to produce too much thatch that builds up on the fibres in the base of the turf canopy, regular maintenance of the surface includes brushing, raking, verticutting, seeding and a light sand top dressing. This is vital to prevent algae build-up and keep the grass young and fresh.
The best praise is that which comes from the end users and I am happy to say we have had nothing but praise from the NFL, despite some initial concerns they are actively promoting the playing surface to the teams that come into the UK each Autumn as part of their series of games at Wembley. The NFL coaches and players have told us that they have found the surface very safe to use without slipping and with excellent traction. They can change direction quickly and safely and the surface is not too hard. The FA are also now using the pitch on a regular basis during their stays at The Grove instead of training off site, so this is great news for us and with Watford being in the premier league it is going to be a busy year on our new pitch!"
Why choose Eclipse Hybrid Turf?
- 100% natural grass playing surface meets all governing body regulations
- Increased wear tolerance in comparison to conventional grass
- Horizontal stability, even on pre sand rootzones
- Decreased divoting, shearing and displacement damage
- Short installation time as no stitching required
- Flexibility to replace logos and change worn areas
- Immediately playable upon installation or rotation
- Natural look and feel
- Load bearing strength
- Supports usual maintenance methods