The key role played by Hugh King & Co in one of the most ambitious renovation projects ever undertaken on an Open Championship course has been highlighted by Turnberry’s courses and estates manager, Allan Patterson. The family run business was an integral supplier during the exciting resurgence of Trump Turnberry’s Ailsa Course, delivering bunker and top-dressing sand to the famous course during the eight-month overhaul.
During the £200 million investment in the Ayrshire resort which affected 16 hectares of the championship Alisa Course, Hugh King & Co supplied around 1,000 tonnes of its Bunker 8 and Washed Dune Sand to aid the rebuilding of 87 bunkers and 18 championship greens. It was an epic project defined by an equally heroic timescale.
“It is by far the biggest renovation of any course on the Open Championship rota and probably the biggest undertaking in the UK this year,” explained Patterson. “It was an ambitious turnaround from closing to full renovation within eight months. So between everybody – the constructor, the architect, the team on the ground – everyone worked incredibly hard and did a fantastic job. Everyone involved was part of a huge puzzle and Hugh King and the sand they supplied was an important part of that puzzle.”
Trump Turnberry, which has hosted The Open Championship four times, closed its doors in September 2015 and reopened again in June 2016. For the man in charge of returning the famous course to its famed condition, the project demanded a monumental team effort.
“What helped during the construction was our relationship with Hugh King,” Patterson continued. “If a weather window appeared and we phoned them up out of the blue to get a delivery, nine times out of 10 they would accommodate that request. They knew the significance of the project. If we didn’t have that kind of relationship with them to maximise those opportunities – if you miss your windows of opportunity – we would have delayed the growing process. It’s as simple as that.”
Hugh King & Co, which supplies sands to over 120 golf courses including all Open Championship venues in Scotland, was already stocking the Ayrshire resort with sands prior to the audacious revamp. As Patterson explained, it made sense to stick with a supplier and sands they already knew.
“In 2014, we started using Hugh King’s Bunker 8 sand,” he explained. “It performed very well after heavy rain and the feedback from members and guests was very positive regarding its consistency. It is an extremely good sand, so we didn’t look at any other products.”
Hugh King & Co has been delivering top-grade materials to key industry sectors for over 150 years. As one of the country’s leading suppliers of sports sands, being involved in the delivery of such a daring redesign and renovation was a momentous undertaking.
“It has been an extremely exciting project, especially given the history of the venue and the universal affection felt towards it within the world of golf,” said Graeme King, Hugh King & Co’s managing director. “From a professional point of view, it tested everyone with all the bunkers and greens being rebuilt in a tight eight-month period, never mind the extensive redesign by Martin Ebert. It was an incredible job by Allan Patterson and his team and all the contractors involved. They’ve done the impossible and improved one of the world’s top golf courses.”
As well as renovating all of the bunkers – with about 50% being returned to a more natural design – the project also saw renovation to all 18 holes, with the most notable work taking place on the coastal stretch from the fourth to the 11th. Many of these holes saw considerable changes in order to make the most of the dramatic Ayrshire coastline.
Working with the construction firm SOL GOLF and Ocmis to provide the irrigation, Patterson admits a lot of things had to go in his favour to make the ambitious deadline, including selecting the right sand supplier. “The whole thing is a team effort,” he said, “but when it comes to sand, you have to buy the right product, you have to put it on at the right time and at the right thickness. Is it important your supplier can get three loads of sand to you the next day because the forecast is good? Of course it is. If you missed that, the surfaces wouldn’t be as good because you hadn’t been able to apply as much sand. A lot of things had to come together, including the sand.”