Described by Peter Alliss as "the best kept secret in Dorset", Ashley Wood Golf Club was founded in 1896 and is constructed on natural well drained chalk downland with spectacular views over the surrounding Dorset countryside.
Four holes are played within Ashley Wood itself, ancient woodlands that are carpeted with bluebells in the spring and abundant with birdlife including buzzards.
But such a spectacular setting makes for a course that can be tricky to manage, as Head Greenkeeper Mark Sherwood explains:
"The chalk downland is extremely dry - we had just 25mm of rain in March - and the old course has minimal topsoil; by contrast some former farmland in the wood is red clay."
Dry patch was one of the most serious issues until recently. "In places up to 90 per cent of the green was drought stricken and we had tried a variety of wetting agents without success," Mark says.
Darren Hatcher of Headland Amenity suggested that Mark try Tricure AD, which has multi-surfactant chemistry to optimise root zone moisture content without creating excess in the surface. At the same time it requires less water to be applied to reach field capacity.
"We used Tricure AD and have not looked back. On some of the highest greens the wind could burn the leaf and cause surface crusting in dry conditions but Tricure AD really keeps the surface open and allows water to penetrate, ensuring that the sward stays green all year round."
Mark has also been impressed with the rapid results that can be obtained: "If we are unable to spray as planned due to the winds, once we can get on with Tricure AD it brings the turf back extremely quickly."
Tricure AD is integrated with the feeding programme and use starts in March, repeated every four-five weeks until a hot spell, when intervals are cut to three weeks.
In addition to the improvements to the turf condition, Mark is using as little as half the water previously required, which as well as saving time and money, also benefits greens quality.
"We're moving towards more sustainable grasses as many clubs are, so using less water favours the bent grasses - when we had to over-water, the poa could really kick off."
Turfcomplex Liquid Biostimulant was added to the programme just over a year ago, forming part of a soil drench with Tricure AD which greens up the turf and gives a 'velvety' appearance. It contains bioactive seaweed and humic acids, micronutrients and elevated manganese to promote root strength and boost the plant's own resistance to stress.
"We had used Turfcomplex on and off in the past but Darren suggested using it in a mix to offer a stress management solution in these dry conditions. We like to keep feeding levels to a minimum, and Turfcomplex really helps eke out the nutrients, avoiding an up and down effect. We are able to present the members with a really consistent sward year round which they expect, but takes some doing in practice."
Mark comments that the mix of Tricure AD and Turfcomplex at 10l/ha and 20l/ha respectively is very easy to use, and that he gets regular support from Darren Hatcher and the Headland team.
"I know that I can rely on Headland products to do exactly what it says on the pack, and that is very reassuring," he says.
Tel: +44 (0)1223 597834 - Fax: +44 (0)1223 598052 - www.headlandamenity.com