Lee Strutt, course manager at the exclusive Perthshire course gWest, is the first turf manager to hold all three top industry qualifications accredited by the worldwide greenkeeping bodies. Aside from making history, he is also preparing for the start of the season.
What’s on your radar for March?
March is an important month for us. Traditionally we get a 10 day/two-week window that I would deem a false spring – the weather is nice and dry, the temperatures come up and you notice everyone starts talking about daffodils and bluebells. Those two weeks are important because I use them to promote early growth. I prepare some turf maintenance to start in those weeks with fertilizer, aeration and top dressing.
It’s on my radar to have products and equipment ready to go when we can take advantage of this good spell of weather. It gives me a head start on tackling issues like moss and weed development. You’re able to start combating the issues you’ve inherited during the very cold, wet winters. It allows us to achieve better definition on the golf course for the start of the season. The problem is you don’t know when it comes. Every year we get it no matter if we’re in London or Scotland; it’s the same for all of us. It’s just watching the weather and trying to take advantage of it.
How about more general work on the course?
We’ve changed some of our work practices. Our main aeration and top-dressing works continues more or less right through the winter now. So in March and April we top-dress and aerate a lot of the surfaces. Basically we’re trying to build up the sand profile during those months and dry the upper surfaces.
We’ve gone away from top-dressing during the summer to top-dressing during the winter because of the issues with cutting quality, but we do a lot of aeration giving us a better chance of ameliorating that top-dressing into the upper profile.
How about the bunkers, are they ready for play?
We’ve filled about a third. We’ve used 600 tonnes of sand so far but we’re still scheduled to use another 1,000 tonnes. There are only 70 bunkers, which isn’t many but the ones we do have are large but appropriately sized to the scale of the site. They don’t look big, but they are. They take a lot of sand, even when we’re just topping up. We could easily be looking at 80 tonnes a year to top up.
Hugh King do a special mix for us, which they call King Bunker 7. We were looking for a sand that would fit performance criteria of good drainage, good angle of repose, particle distribution that would let the bunker drain well and lastly colour. It was a blend. It’s a nice, stable sand that is good to work with.
Hugh King 7 has been put together to deliver certain criteria. In the past, sand was screened and that was it. Hugh King gives you certain elements that you’re looking for in a sand that performs really well.