Allan Patterson has been at Trump Turnberry since 28 January. As we find out, it’s been quite a year for the new golf courses and estates manager.
What’s the past 10 months been like?
“It’s been a bit of a world wind. First there was the pitch-and-putt project, then the short-range project, then getting the courses ready for the spring and then the Ladies British Open in July. Following that there was all the work to improve one of the world’s best golf courses. It’s been really good and a unique challenge. A commitment to invest and take TrumpTurnberry back to its former glories are the words that have been used, but it’s not just about the Ailsa course; it’s about the whole place.”
What are you objectives for December?
The plan is to have all the green sites done for Christmas. We have 60% of them done already. If we include the putting green, we have 19 putting surfaces to do. Eleven are done and the contractors, Sol Golf, are targeting two per week for the remainder. That was the plan from day one. Then we move onto pathways, tees and bunkers after Christmas or before if we can. The priority is to get the greens done so we have the maximum length of time to get them as perfect as they can be for the first of June. As long as we get something vaguely resembling a spring, we’ll be fine.”
What kind of work is being done on the greens?
The greens have always been rich and hold moisture which means in the west coast of Scotland with the rainfall we get, they can be softer than we would like. If you took the new holes and the green sites we’ve moved, there are nine new greens. We didn’t want to be able to tell which ones were new and which ones were old, so from a consistency perspective, we decided to put the better, freer draining sand material on all the green sites.”
You’ve been using indigenous sand during the development and using Hugh King’s sand for top dressing. How does this work?
An integral part of getting all the surfaces ready for the 1st June is applying Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand as top-dressing. Our target is to have the top 20mm with 4-6% organic matter. That’s the key; that’s where you play the game. Say we have a perfect root zone, moisture content and percolation rates, if we didn’t top dress at the surface suddenly that 4-6% becomes 10-12% and then you create a sponge at the surface. It doesn’t matter how free draining it is underneath; if the water can’t get there, the green’s performance suffers. Going forward, the key is we get as much Hugh King sand as is needed on the surface on a regular basis.”
How else do use Hugh King sand?
“We use Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand for top-dressing greens, aprons and tees on all the courses and the Ailsa fairways, and the plans are to fill the bunkers with their Bunker 8 sand. We target about 120 tonnes per hectare over the growing season on greens and aprons and as much as we can on tees. And we’ll top dress fairways two or three times as well. Over the course of the grow-in, all in we’ll use about 800 tonnes. We use a fair bit.”
Why so much?
“For us it’s cost effective because it’s local, but to be honest, if we were on the east coast of Scotland we would still use it because of the quality, the consistency and the service. If we get a weather opportunity and phone up to ask if they can get a load of sand to us tomorrow; nine times out of 10 they’ll do it. From a customer service perspective, they’re very obliging. It’s not just the quality of the product; the customer service is very good as well.”
What impresses you about the sand when you get it on site?
“The other guys will say exactly the same; the consistency and quality of the product is second to none. It’s very compatible and almost matches our native sand which means Hugh King is a perfect match. You put it on the surface, let it dry a little bit and because it is so consistent and the quality is so good, it just rubs in. Lovely.