Revitalising Saffron Walden Golf Club Fairways: The Impact of Vitalnova Links

A comprehensive approach to turf recovery and resilience.

May 24, 2024
2 mins

Ian Cambridge, Course Manager at Saffron Walden Golf Club in Cambridge, has shared how the use of ICL’s Vitalnova Links, combined with expert advice and quality grass seed, has been crucial in rejuvenating the fairways after severe drought conditions.

The Challenge of Drought

Droughts are particularly challenging for golf course managers across the UK, and Ian faced such a challenge.

“During a particularly dry summer, like many golf courses, we lost a significant portion of our grass sward on the fairways,”

Ian explained. “Our initial overseeding efforts following the drought weren’t very successful, and the fairways remained in poor condition early in the season.”

Seeking Solutions

In search of a remedy, Ian contacted ICL, leading to a visit from ICL’s Andrew Pledger. Andrew assessed the course conditions and soil, eventually recommending a strategic approach centred around ICL’s Vitalnova Links biostimulant.

The Vitalnova Links Programme

Vitalnova Links combines Vitalnova SMX, a concentrated seaweed extract, and Vitalnova Blade, a proven biostimulant. This formulation leverages the benefits of both products to promote healthier turf.

The programme also included a wetting agent and 8kg of a water-soluble 35-0-5 fertiliser. Due to the club’s lack of irrigation capacity, Andrew advised against overseeding until autumn.

He recommended a blend of rye, fescue, and Smooth Stalk Meadow Grass (SSMG) to improve resilience against future droughts.

Successful Implementation

“The grass species we lost the most was fescue, and we were unsure of the best course of action,” Ian noted. “Andrew explained that using a blend of three different species would provide greater resilience in future droughts.”

The nutritional and wetting agent programme facilitated natural ingress of the existing sward, reducing the amount of seed needed for autumn overseeding, thus lowering costs. The selected seed mix, ProSelect Tees/Fairways, proved to be highly effective.

ProSelect Tees/Fairways is popular among golf courses for its blend of fine fescues and perennial ryegrass, which offer strong recovery from divoting.

The mix includes Traction smooth-stalked meadow grass and Torsion TRT perennial ryegrass, providing durability and recovery from divots, excellent colour, disease tolerance, and close mowing tolerance.

Testing and Results

The new programme was put to the test when drought conditions reoccurred. “In the following spring, the fairways were recovering well, but drought conditions returned,” Ian recalled.

“The difference this time was our pre-emptive use of a wetting agent and nutritional programme. Although the turf browned off, it recovered quickly when the rain returned.”

The overseeding requirements were reduced, thanks to the quality seed and the tailored nutritional programme advised by Andrew.


The strategic use of Vitalnova Links, along with expert guidance and high-quality seed, has been instrumental in restoring and maintaining the fairways at Saffron Walden Golf Club.

Ian Cambridge’s experience underscores the importance of tailored solutions and proactive management in overcoming environmental challenges.