Royal Porthcawl Golf Club has completed a six-year search for the perfect top-dressing in time for this year’s Senior Open Championship. The revered Welsh club, which started its quest due to dwindling local supplies, confirmed it has secured sand from one of the country’s leading sport sand suppliers based 441 miles away in Ayrshire, Scotland.
The Washed Dune Sand, which is being supplied by Hugh King & Co, is the closest alternative to the sand used by the 123-year-old club to top-dress its smooth-running greens. According to Ian Kinley, course manager at Royal Porthcawl, the new sand is almost an identical match.
“Like many links golf courses, our indigenous sand supply has been exhausted,” he explained. “We set out to replicate it as closely as possible and the closest replacement we could find, or indeed anyone can find is Hugh King’s Washed Dune Sand which is essentially what we were using before. You struggle to find it anywhere.”
The news follows another high-profile sand save by Hugh King & Co ahead of last year’s Open Championship once again brought about by dwindling home-grown supplies. For the first time in its 121-year history, Muirfield opted for a new, free-draining bunker sand also supplied by Hugh King & Co.
At Royal Porthcawl, following a thorough search and a testing phase involving four other alternative sands, a change in tactics provided Kinley with the opportunity to look further afield. “Having spent a number of years in Scotland, I was well aware of the Hugh King product but because of the logistics and expense of haulage these days, we dismissed it as being a viable option,” he explained. “At that time, we top-dressed greens and aprons as one entity. Now we top dress greens separately which means we use less volume and can choose a different sand.”
In total, 300 tonnes of sand is applied to Royal Porthcawl’s greens annually producing the smooth and fast greens for which the club is famed. “We do so much top-dressing that we wanted a product we could apply and people would barely tell we had done it. If you use a bright white sand, it stands out like a sore thumb.”
Not only was the colour and purity of Hugh King & Co’s Washed Dune Sand ideal, but delivery times weren’t an issue despite the 882-mile round trip. “The colour is perfect and it is extremely clean – we have yet to find any imperfections or contamination,” noted Kinley. “And despite the distance, the delivery times are generally two days after we make the call.”
Hugh King & Co supplies sands to over 100 golf courses, but this is the furthest it has transported its acclaimed King Washed Dune sand. However, as Graeme King, managing director of the family run firm pointed out, the company doesn’t see distance as a barrier.
“Although this is the furthest we have transported our sand, for us delivering to Wales is not an issue,” he said. “The important thing is one of the country’s most respected golf clubs is able to continue with a structured maintenance programme that has created some of the best links course conditions you’ll see anywhere. It is just great to be a part of that process.”
He continued: “Our Washed Dune Sand is highly regarded by links courses because of its natural appearance and particle size. We are especially pleased to be helping Royal Porthcawl in the run-up to such a high-profile event as the Senior Open.”
With six 29-tonne loads already delivered to the prestigious club, the legendary line-up for the first senior major championship in Wales will face a classic links test epitomised by Royal Porthcawl’s infamous greens which have been bolstered by Hugh King & Co’s Washed Dune Sand.