Craig Boath has been at Carnoustie Golf Links for 20 years working his way up to one of the top jobs. For the past four years, he has been in charge of the Championship Course. Here he discusses sand, winter works and preparing for the Open Championship.
How advanced are your preparations for the 2018 Open Championship?
“It’s ongoing. From the year we host the Open onwards; preparation carries on until the next one. We just keep going. Distance wise, the course will be the same as the last few Opens. We’re doing a bit of work on the third hole this winter by creating a bit of additional fairway on the right-hand side. This is more for general play. It’s a tricky hole because it’s a short par four so there is a concentration of divots just short of the two bunkers that causes a little bit of bother. We’re just trying to spread that out.”
How is your diary looking for November?
“This is the start of our winter works. There will be a lot of bunker building; we’re doing 30, we’ll be working on the third fairway and we’ll be installing some new irrigation on the 6th hole and on The Open practice area. Sand wise, we’ll keep topdressing the greens with Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand during the winter months with about 10-15 tonnes per hectare. We’ll also be using Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand in our root zone for re-turfing. So we use a fair bit of sand during the winter.”
Generally, how much sand do you use?
“This year, we haven’t needed to put on as much sand as normal. Usually we get through about 200 tonnes a hectare – we’ve got a hectare and half of greens. However, because our organic matter is in target range at about 4%, we don’t need to put on so much sand to stay in that zone. It’s easily managed now. Saying that, we’ll still use over 100 tonnes this year. We also used the Washed Dune on tees, approaches, surrounds and fairways. It’s key to get consistency from tee to green in performance.”
You’ve been using Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand on the Championship Course since 2008. What effect has this had?
“Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand has helped us produce firmer, smoother, truer greens. It also helps with the drainage – it’s a more freer draining surface.”
What is it like to deal with Hugh King on a regular basis?
“Their service is really good. You can phone them up and get a delivery the next day or the day after. They are really good that way. The service is excellent.”
How does this help you in your job?
“The weather is so unpredictable. If you’ve just put out sand and you see another window of opportunity coming up in the next three or four days, you can phone them up and they’ll get the next load delivered which is really good. And it’s not just the topdressing that it affects. It can influence other processes as well. For instance, if you get a chance to seed and then topdress behind that, that can make a big difference, especially for the visitor. They want the greens to be as good as they are during a tournament. It’s all about visitors’ expectations at Carnoustie Golf Links.”