Colin Powrie has spent half his life at Ladybank Golf Club in Fife, although he admits it doesn’t feel like 25 years have passed since he started there. He clearly loves what he does and has built up a wealth of heathland knowledge.
Does the start of spring herald better conditions for you?
“April is a difficult month for everyone in this area. You get these north-easterly winds which the grass doesn’t like. Ladybank’s greens are around 70-80% bent grass with the remaining made up of Poa and fescue. With April being a difficult month for growth with dry, cold, north easterly winds stunting Poa, surfaces can be inconsistent in terms of trueness, smoothness and playability. To help improve this we apply light dressings of TD4 little and often throughout April to help hit our targets. Our aim in April is to get the surfaces on the greens just right.”
How much sand do you apply at this time of year?
“We apply a light dusting every 10 days of 10 tonnes per hectare on green surfaces. At the same time we’re keeping organic matter under control. This process has helped us halve our organic content in the last five years which means the greens are a lot firmer all year round. We’re part of the STRI testing programme so we get a lot of testing done by them. We exceed all our targets on a regular basis.”
What advantages do you get from using Hugh King’s dry top-dressing sands?
Hugh King’s TD4 is a kiln-dried, medium-coarse sand that complements our existing soil. It’s free-draining and we’re seeing great results with it. It gets pumped into the silo we have on site so we have dried material on demand. This is important especially after aeration because when you’re using dried material, it filters into any aeration holes and down into the canopy so much better and a lot quicker.
How does this help?
“Because the sand isn’t lying on the surface, you can come along with cutting units. If you were using undried sand, you would potentially lose material through pick-up and you could also get problems with blunt cutting units. If the sand is down in the canopy, it’s in the right place. I would also recommend using a silo because of the consistency of the material. It produces a better putting surface.”
Do you use any other Hugh King sands?
“Another sand we use from Hugh King is Washed Dune Sand, which we use for topdressing tees and approaches. It is consistent throughout the particle-size range which helps when brushing it in. We are also trialling Washed Dune Sand in some bunkers as an alternative to our existing sand. We’ll see how it performs and get some feedback from the members. We’re thinking long term.”