Jim Paton has been looking after the links at The West Kilbride Golf Club since 1981. While he supervises an ongoing programme of improvements at the esteemed club, he is also preparing for his second year at the helm of the Scottish Greenkeepers Association.
How long have you been using Hugh King sand?
“I’ve been using Hugh King sand all the time I’ve been at The West Kilbride Golf Club, which is coming up to 35 years this May. I’ve been using the Washed Dune sand for top-dressing all that time. It is a very good sand and a good product to put on the course. We’re aiming to use about 120-150 tonnes a year for top-dressing. The only challenge is getting the time to put it on. We’re so busy.”
What’s keeping you busy in January?
“The climate is changing so much on golf courses, so we’re doing a lot of work on the drainage mainly because it’s been so wet – we had over 300mm of rain in November. Also the course is coming up for its 125th anniversary and a lot of the drains have been in the ground for over 100 years, so we’re starting to find problems. The old drains don’t cope well with the amount of rainfall we’re getting so we’re having to dig them up, rod them and if necessary renew them. We’ve just done 30 metres but had to stop because we couldn’t get the rods through because of all the sand that had built up inside them – it’s a very sandy course underneath.”
That must be a big job.
“It is, but to make things a little easier, we have 55 silt traps at key areas around the course where the drains go. We can lift the concrete lid, go down and clean it out without having to dig another hole. It gives us easy access to the drains. We’ve gone through 26 so far and we’ll finish the rest off in January.”
How is your tenure as chairman of the Scottish Greenkeepers Association going?
“I’ve just finished my first year of that and I’ve really enjoyed going round the country meeting the guys. I’ve been to four board meetings, an east section golf outing in the spring, the west section and south west section. I also went to the national outing and the patrons’ lunch. This year I’ll be getting up to north and central sections and will also be down at Harrogate attending some workshops and representing the Scottish region at the AGM. There will be plenty to see, but I’ll especially look forward to being on Hugh King’s stand.”
Hugh King will be exhibiting at BTME in Harrogate this month in Hall A, stand A23.