“The construction of a golf course is the construction of a landscape”

ICL’s Technical Managers Around The World
Oliver Heyne

4 mins

When it comes to keeping plants and turfgrass in peak condition, ICL has the best specialist teams all over the world. Although ICL is a global player, we firmly believe in a local approach. Different countries have their own climate, their own challenges and therefore need different solutions. That is where the expertise of ICLs Technical Managers over the world comes into play. We asked them about their backgrounds, motivations and specific challenges in their market. 



When you think of golf courses, you may not immediately picture Germany, yet there is a big market for it in the country. Oliver Heyne, Area Sales Manager Germany, knows that all too well. He has been working in the sector for almost 27 years: initially as a greenkeeper, but for the last ten years as a special turf care consultant at ICL. “It’s great if we manage to find solutions for practical use,” he says. According to Oliver, these are not necessarily the solutions that are designed to generate maximum turnover, but rather the solutions that offer the optimal situation to the customer.


The construction of a landscape

“When I started turf maintenance on a golf course almost 27 years ago, I never imagined that I would become a salesman in the turf industry. On the contrary, I wanted to create something directly with my own hands. This applied to the daily maintenance of golf and sports fields, as well as to the construction of golf courses. The latter is synonymous with landscaping for me, because the construction of a golf course is the construction of a landscape,” he says.


Pure joy

Oliver tells us that the creation of a turf is a special process. “It’s just amazing to see the greens emerge after 3 to 4 ½ days – under midsummer conditions – and mow for the first time (!) just 19 days after sowing. My mentor during my greenkeeper apprenticeship once said: ‘If you manage to get the golf course in the best possible condition, taking into account the budget and the respective weather conditions, that is pure joy.’ A quote too good not to share,” he says. This applies to all landscaping areas and should be included in every conversation with customers: “The problems and the available budget can differ, but all assignments have one thing in common: Get the best possible result within the given possibilities!”


The importance of sustainability

Each country has a different climate and therefore requires a different approach. Oliver tells us about the specific challenges in Germany when it comes to turf management during times of changing climate conditions. According to him, the local turf industry was not surprised by the simultaneous occurrence of summer diseases such as Dollar spot and winter diseases such as snow mold.


“The past five years have been characterized by mixed weather; wet periods alternating with periods that were too dry. The last droughts have certainly shaped the years 2018 to 2022. This is a major challenge for many greenkeepers, site managers and landscape gardeners, but also an opportunity to test the benefits of Wetting Agents.” Wetting Agents are products that retain water in drier conditions or drain excess water into the soil under wet conditions. This reduces the number of wet or dry spots accordingly and prevents hardening of the bottom and water-repellent areas.


Local outbreaks of diseases have also generated new demands in the German market. Oliver explains that “Gray leaf spot disease broke out in German stadiums a few years ago and developed in certain plants (especially young perennial ryegrass) under warm temperatures. As a result, grass species and varieties which are known to be tolerant to this disease became increasingly important to the German market.”


The combination of higher temperatures with high humidity in the country has also increased the damage from snow mold in the autumn and winter, resulting in the emergence of new treatment strategies and mechanical healthcare protocols. Oliver gives us a few examples on how to tackle this problem: “Remove trees and shrubs in support of light and air flow, and make targeted use of acid fertilizers, wetting agents and overseeding varieties that are tolerant to snow mold.”


Oliver tells us that ICL considers the development of sustainable mineral fertilizers to be crucially important. One result that has emerged from this is, for example, the Sierrablen Plus Pearl series, with the recycled product struvite. “This is a mineral composed of nitrogen, phosphate and magnesium from sewage treatment plants. A remarkable contribution, knowing that phosphate will become scarce in the future.”


Being a part of the ICL team in Germany and Austria and seen as an honest contact point for his clients, is all Oliver ever wanted to achieve on a professional level. “I see a rosy future. At ICL I can really work on my passion and put my knowledge and skills into practice. The past ten years working as a consultant for ICL were never boring. I’m sure that the next ten years will be just as exciting!”