During the last 12 months Neil Sadler has overseen Portlethen Golf Club’s transition from using medium course sand to medium fine sand. If that wasn’t enough, he is preparing for the BIGGA Scottish Golf Championships in August.
What prompted you to move to Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand last year?
“Particle sizes. We were using a medium-coarse sand before and the coarse particles were very coarse and weren’t brushing into the greens properly. It was like little stones had been left behind which were dulling the mowers which then needed to be taken away for re-sharpening. On two occasions we had to go round afterwards to pick up the worst of them by hand. Nobody has the time for that. It just wasn’t working so we had to find another sand and that’s when Hugh King’s Washed Dune Sand was brought to my attention. Other greenkeepers told me it was fantastic, so I checked the data sheets and thought; let’s give it a try.
We have a small budget so we can only afford 150 tonnes of dressing annually, so we only use it on the greens. But in the year we’ve been using the Washed Dune Sand it has firmed up the putting surfaces, kept them open so they drain better which has been important this summer and the playability is far more consistent throughout the whole season. I am absolutely delighted; it’s a brilliant product.”
Have the members noticed the change?
“They have noticed a difference especially in the improved playability but they don’t know why. I don’t go into that level of detail with them. It has been a good transition. The particles in Hugh King’s sand are so round and so clean, it hasn’t caused us any problems what so ever.”
What are your plans for August?
“This is the first year we haven’t needed to hollow core the greens. Normally that happens in August because the recovery rates are so good. We used to get a lot of moans and groans from the members, but we found it was a good time to do it.
This year we don’t have to do it because we’ve got the level of organic matter down to 5% in the first 20mm. With the STRI’s advice, we no longer need to do any more coring for thatch removal. Because we’re getting regular sand dressings throughout the year, we’ve been able to dilute the thatch. The sand has played a big part in that. We’re doing light dressings more often because it is easy to integrate the medium-fine sand into the canopy. The golfers don’t notice we’ve done it so we can do it more often. Now we no longer need to do the hollow coring, which saves my ears.”
Anything else on the horizon?
“We do have the Scottish Greenkeeping Championship in August, so there’s going to be 90 other greenkeepers here each with a critical eye on the course. You know yourself; if you’ve got your peers visiting, you want everything to be spot on.”