Course conditions at Thorndon Park Golf Club in Essex have enjoyed a welcome and rapid improvement following the implementation of a new seeding strategy, with a switch from fescue to perennial ryegrass resulting in a dramatic recovery of the fairways.
After two years of near-drought conditions and some extensive leatherjacket damage, some of the fairways at the Ingrave-based venue had almost been stripped bare of grass, but with the help of Johnsons Sports Seed the recovery of the fairways has been nothing short of ‘amazing’, according to Course Manager David Byron.
When Byron took over as Course Manager in September 2020, tackling the loss of coverage on the fairways was his first major task.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that what we were faced with was really just mud and dust,” said Byron, who heads up a greens team of nine. “Craig Spooner from DLF came in and conducted a course walk and we decided on a switch to a bespoke Perennial Ryegrass mixture – featuring Dickens, Chardin, Clementine and Monroe – to give us quick, strong growth and recovery while we rebuild the soil profile – with the aim of later down the line, re-introducing fescue species.”
Ideally suited for the renovation of high traffic areas, perennial ryegrass delivers improved drought tolerance, high disease resistance and excellent year-round colour, and importantly for Byron, fast recovery.
“We first sowed the Rye fairway mix in September so we’re less than a year into the programme and we have recovered all our fairways – in fact, coverage across the whole course is currently fantastic. We’ve been using Johnsons’ J Tee on our tees for the last few years and that always performs well, and on the greens it’s J All Bent which was last sown at the end of May and this has given us a great initial strike.”
While Byron is delighted with results course-wide, the club’s determination to rise even higher in the ranks means mixtures are always being reviewed and assessed with the STRI ratings.
“We can be assured with table-topping cultivars that with Johnsons, we’re going to be getting the tolerances and resistances we need to always be improving. The Johnsons mixtures are also backed up with fantastic technical support, both from Craig and Richard Lewis at our distributor Indigrow. The support network and after-care advice we get is worth more to me than saving a few quid here and there on product. Buying into Johnsons you get the complete package.”