Archive for June, 2016
As Castle Stuart Golf Links once again prepares to welcome the world’s best golfers to the Highlands for the Scottish Open, we catch up with Chris Haspell, the venue’s much-admired course manager.
Is the Scottish Open week one to relish or just get through?
“If you’ve got a strong team around you, it’s not as hard some people might have you believe. It’s all about getting the team and preparation right. There’s a lot of responsibility but it’s nice when you have people around you can trust. If you can’t get up for a tournament, you shouldn’t be getting up at all.”
How is the course progressing?
“We’re not in bad shape. Everybody has struggled with the late spring, but we’ve had sustained growth for three weeks now, but it has been a long time coming. Those north easterlies don’t do us any favours. It’s been nice to get a little bit of warmth. We’ve had up to 190C which always makes the grass a lot happier. We’re reasonably well placed for six weeks out. I’m not going to moan, that’s for sure.”
What’s the rough going to be like for the tournament?
“It’s wispy fescue rough. There will be one cut at 100mm, another cut at 32mm and then onto the fairways. The rough is a little bit thicker this year. We’ve fed it a little bit. We normally let it look after itself but we wanted to make it pop and get some seed head on it for this year. It’ll be a half a shot penalty if you get in there whereas previously you could still advance your ball a long way. Saying that, it’ll be just a nice height where you can find you’re ball. We’re not going to upset our normal punters for a one-week tournament. We are, after all, in the entertainment business.”
What top-dressing sand do you use?
“We’re using Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand on greens and surrounds. We use it for organic matter dilution and to get truer surfaces. Simple as that really. We’ve used about 160 tonnes since November. We did a top-dressing last week and I’m doing another one in a week’s time which will be about 25 tonnes and that should be us for the tournament. The greens are nice and firm already.”
You’ve used Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand since you opened. What has it given you?
“It’s about keeping it consistent. We’re still battling to keep the right grasses, but the consistency is there. We wanted a sand that matched very closely the rootzone we put in which was a medium fine, and that seems to be working for us. That’s what we were looking for specifically but I know Hugh King does a lot of different sands for different applications, so it’s horses for courses I suppose. The service we get from Hugh King is really up there. It’s very good.”