It's one thing for a product to perform well in a lab or during a test study. Achieving the same results in the field under a variety of conditions however is a different matter. So the management team at Anuvia, the manufacturer of GreenTRX is working to get its product in the hands of the experts, the nation's golf course superintendents.
One of those superintendents is Matt Shaffer, the Director of Golf Course Operations at historic Merion Golf Club near Philadelphia who began his own ad hoc evaluation of the product this past May at the same time he was building a new nursery. Shaffer first heard of GreenTRX from John Fowler, Anuvia's sales manager for turf; the two have a longstanding professional relationship.
"They reached out to me," Shaffer recalls, "and asked if I would look at it." Shaffer was skeptical at first, it's not uncommon for superintendents to be approached about trying new products. "Then gave us a little bit of product. We put it in a third of our nursery and we were blown away instantly by how fast it released and then the duration of the nutrients. So we requested some more and then we started to do more testing and were absolutely astounded."
After the Memorial Day holiday, Shaffer took the next step and took the product to the range where GreenTRX made an immediate impression on Merion's membership.
"Starting around June 1, we used it on our driving range," Shaffer says. "It's incredible. Everybody uses the range and there are some people that are just too busy during the week to play golf. They stop in the evening and hit a couple dozen golf balls. The range gets a tremendous amount of use and everybody sees it. Its looking stellar; really, really good."
Shaffer notes GreenTRX is different from many other organic material based fertilizerers in that it releases with water. "The only other product that was ever like it was a product called IBDU and that was immensely popular back in the 70s and 80s," he says. "It got discontinued. A few of us old timers that loved it can still track it down occasionally but it's incredibly expensive."
In contrast, Shaffer says GreenTRX is extremely cost effective, which is good news for superintendents watching their budgets. "They have a very unusual product so I'm positive they spent a lot of time developing it," he says. "Most times people really put the price to the bag to try to recoup that but it doesn't seem that this company is in that market."
As this article was being written, Shaffer was preparing to take the product to the course, or, more accurately the courses, both Merion's revered East Course and the challenging but less-celebrated West Course. That's approximately 100 acres of rough, 50 acres of fairway, and five acres of putting surfaces.
Shaffer is also helping Anuvia fine tune it's product. "We've been tinkering with it, helping them get the particle size (smaller) he says. "In agriculture it doesn't matter but in turf it really matters. With large particles you could utilize it on fairways and roughs probably all right but on greens you could never hide it. It breaks down pretty quickly but still you need to get it into the canopy if at all possible. They're still working on that."
How long is an application of GreenTRX effective? Researchers and superintendents are still seeking a definitive answer to that question. "We're working on that now," Shaffer says, "but it seems to hold its value for at least 30 days. We're not positive about that but on the soils we're working with, that's what it looks like it's doing. I'm thinking in 35-40 days in optimum growing weather it will be used up."
It's far too soon to know with certainty how effective the product will be long term but Shaffer is enthusiastic about Green TRX's prospects. That enthusiasm comes from conversations with his peers who have used it; Anuvia is working to get the product to as many facilities as possible.
Dan Froehlich is Anuvia's Vice President of development. "The true test is to put it on their courses," he says, "especially where they're having issues. It typically gets applied to more difficult areas people have had and if works there they'll consider using it on the rest of their course."
And if works, a superintendent is sure to inform his peers. The reader is well aware of how superintendents assist and consult with each other and word is getting out about GreenTRX.
"Superintendents trust each other," Shaffer points out, "more than a product representative."
GreenTRX by itself is not an ultimate solution to turf issues; it is intended to be used with other products. But Shaffer is impressed with what he has seen so far. "I actually see it as the backbone of our fertility program in the future," he says. "It's that good."
"The nice thing about this company so I don't think they're real, real high pressure. They seem to be saying "Try a couple bags, see what you think. If it's that good the vast majority of people will say 'I'm in.'"
Rick Woelfel is a Philadelphia-based golf writer and frequent GCI contributor.