In October after the high drama of the Ryder Cup, the European Tour decamps to the east coast of Scotland. As course and facility manager at Kingsbarns Golf Links, Innes Knight will be in the thick of it.
The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship has always been a popular event. What’s it like to be at the centre of it and do you receive any additional help?
“This year we have eight students from Elmwood College and 18 volunteers coming in from all over the world. We’ve got guys from South Africa, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Iceland, Ireland, England, Poland and, of course, Scotland. Last year was fantastic because the weather was so good – everything went like clockwork. But generally speaking, if the machinery proves to be reliable, the weather kind and all staff are punctual, it usually runs smoothly.”
What do you do in the run-up to the event?
“The IMG team get here first and start setting up the scoring cabins etc. The Tour doesn’t arrive until the Sunday before. My volunteers start arriving on Monday and by Wednesday everyone will be on site. At that point we’ll have a H&S briefing and then get cracking on with our jobs. We’ve got a curry night planned for all the volunteers on Saturday night, so we’ll look forward to that.”
In terms of topdressing, when is the latest you can get material down before a tournament begins?
“Because growth at this time of years starts to slow down, we don’t want to top-dress too close to the tournament, so the last topdressing was applied on the 6th September. That’s as close as we would want to go. At that point, we top-dressed the greens and fairways, with the fairways receiving 210 tonnes of Hugh King sand and the greens getting 20 tonnes. We use Hugh King’s excellent Washed Dune Sand for topdressing greens, surrounds and fairways and RZ2 root zone for patching up tees and repairing divots. This is especially useful on the driving range which takes an exceptional amount of wear. By using Hugh King’s RZ2 root zone and quality seed we can promptly regenerate it.”
Is there any aspect of the course you particularly focus on at this time of year?
“Our focus is mainly on the greens. The goal is achieving consistency, and to do that we’ve top-dressed the greens 10 times during the season with the Washed Dune Sand. It’s all about diluting the thatch and maintaining smoothness – that’s what the sand does. Hugh King Washed Dune Sand is working really well for us. We’re winning the battle.”