Portlethen Golf Club is maturing into one of the most popular parkland courses in the North East of Scotland. To give its 800 plus members the best course possible, course manager Neil Sadler relies on products from ICL
With the beautiful Findon Burn stream stretching across five of the eighteen holes, Portlethen Golf Club is blessed with natural features. Lined with mature broadleaf trees, the Findon Burn can prove to be an obstacle on some of the holes but every golfer likes a challenge. Course development over the years has also seen the planting of around 21,000 carefully selected trees, restoration of drystone dyke, construction of stone bridges, new tees at several holes and a pond at the short fifth.
Neil has overseen a number of these projects in his eight years at Portlethen and three years ago he made the decision to incorporate Primo Maxx into his turf maintenance programme. Primo Maxx, an advanced liquid plant growth regulator manufactured by Syngenta, is the UK's number one choice for greenkeepers and course managers who want to reduce top growth and Neil hasn't looked back since.
"We apply Primo Maxx to the greens and it's certainly improving the sward density. On the tees, fairways and approaches we are also using it to help us ensure there is not too much growth on them.
"We've had extremely good results from it - it's got added benefits with the plant health but really, the biggest benefit for us, is that it's controlling the height of the grass to just stop the areas getting out of control. Plus it is great for presentation because it improves the turf colour and its overall appearance.
"In particular, Primo Maxx has been an absolute god-send this year where it has been so much wetter. The rain has meant that we've had to miss a few cuts but the Primo Maxx has ensured we're not losing out on the presentation. A few years ago, before using Primo Maxx, if we would have missed a cut then there would have been grass cuttings laying around everywhere when we could finally put a mower over it. But now we are managing to keep on top of it by maintaining the height of the turf and cut - and that is thanks to Primo Maxx."
Neil faces a constant battle with Mother Nature and last year, in July, Portlethen saw an average rainfall of 176mm of rain. However, Neil and his team were prepared and armed with Qualibra.
Qualibra's technology works by effectively retaining moisture at increasing depths in the soil profile, which leads to improved nutrient uptake within the plant. The retained soil moisture reduces the need for irrigation by preventing Dry Patch, which ensures stable plant health and firmer, more consistent playing surfaces.
"We've been using Qualibra for two years. We chose it after looking at product reviews and speaking to Jamie Lees (technical area sales manager for ICL in Scotland) about the benefits it would bring to our greens.
"It has been great. When you get that amount of rain, the greens normally go very soft but this year the greens have stayed firm, and performed very well - Qualibra has played a big part in that.
"The two seasons we've been using it have been totally different - for example last July saw 176mm of rain while the year before saw just 38mm. But the greens have been consistently good and consistency is what we are looking for."
Neil also makes the most of the Turf Rewards scheme, which offers golf, sports and amenity turf managers the chance to earn points from purchases and convert them into a range of valuable agronomic or educational items. Many golf clubs like Portlethen are benefiting from this unique scheme and Neil believes that it adds to the overall package he receives from ICL.
"Turf Rewards has been a bonus because we are using the ICL and Syngenta products anyway - in a way it's like a little thank you to us. There are some excellent things you can get through the scheme - the ParryMeter which assesses the smoothness of the turf, the EnviroMonitor for measuring moisture and then you've got iPads and work wear vouchers.
"We are a relatively small club and the budget we have isn't huge so Turf Rewards really benefits us. Training and education vouchers are next on the agenda for us. Every little helps."