Innes Knight has been looking after the tees, greens and fairways at the spectacular Kingsbarns since it opened in 2000. As the acclaimed links now prepares for its fifteenth anniversary, the facility’s greenkeeping supremo reveals what it takes to get the prized Fife course into showroom condition.
Kingsbarns is famed for its conditioning. How do you do that day in day out?
“We aim to produce tournament conditions every day. We have a huge team – there are 13 full-time staff and nine seasonals– and every morning we look to prepare the course almost as we do for a tournament.
“From the middle of November to the end of March we’re closed. The fact that we are a pay and play course with no members allows us to close for this winter period. At £226 per round, during the playing season we try to avoid any disruptive maintenance procedures, and then when we get to the closed period, that’s when we commence coring, deep verti-draining, bunker revetting, drainage works and winter projects.”
May is a busy time with the number of rounds increasing and the weather improving. How do you keep on top of it all?
“In May the grass is springing to life and it’s the time to concentrate on polishing up playing surfaces and to fine tune the all round attention to detail. May is also an important month for us to get the first overseed and the first topdress in a way that causes minimal disruption for our customers.”
“We have chosen 10 Tuesdays throughout the playing season to go behind the golf, so we close off the tee-sheet and my crew do a split shift and come back in behind the golf to apply top dressing etc. We try everything in our power to get as much done on that Tuesday so that the next day, you would hardly know we’d been there. If it’s top-dressing, it’s just enough to fill in any imperfections, and it also helps to break down any organic build up leading to a drier firmer surface. It is the one area we struggled to do before the golf because even if it’s a good morning, there would often be dew on the ground preventing us from cleanly working it into the sward. The first topdressing of the playing season will happen on one of the Tuesdays in May. It all depends on the weather and growth, hopefully the sun will be shining for us!”
You’ve been sourcing your sand from Hugh King for quite a while now. Have you ever thought of changing supplier?
“We are using Hugh King’s Washed Dune Sand for topdressing greens, surrounds and fairways and RZ2 root zone for patching up tees and repairing divots. We’ve been using them for coming up to 10 years because they provide us with great products. I did try another company but I would get one delivery full of stones or they would have a problem with one of their drivers or they would promise me they would have a lorry to me the next day and they didn’t manage it. The reason I’ve decided to stick with Hugh King is because they’ve delivered every time. They’ve never let me down. I don’t need to check each batch; every single load has been the same – stoneless and clean. That’s why I continue to use Hugh King products.”