Archie Dunn has been at the helm at Auchterarder Golf Club for 23 years. This winter he is embarking on a rolling programme of works that will see major improvements at the Perthshire course.
How busy is the winter period for you?
“Well, we’ve got a winter programme that we have agreed with the committee, so we are in the throws of construction; building bunkers, working on greens and building a tee. We’ve put drains in three greens and are building a new tee on the fourth hole. We have already refurbished two bunkers, which are the first of 50 we will be doing over the next five years. It’s an ongoing process. We are trying to redesign them to make them more suited for today’s golf. Some of the bunkers are 140 years old. It’s ongoing work to improve the golf course.”
Are you closing the course or parts of it during the winter?
“We will remain open through as many days as we can. We don’t go onto winter greens unless it is absolutely necessary. The winter greens are marked out, we just use them when we need them. And that decision is made on a day-to-day basis. In fact, we’re looking for some frosty weather so we can get the tractors and excavators on the course without making too much mess. We’ve got quite a bit of material to move, so if we can get the tractors on when the ground is hard, hopefully there won’t be too much damage.”
How long have you been using Hugh King sand?
“We’ve been using Hugh King’s sand for three seasons now. We’re using a medium-coarse blend for our topdressing mix and Hugh King rootzone for finishing jobs. We roughly use about 120 tonnes of topdressing for greens and approaches.”
What were you using before?
“It was a local sand from a local quarry. It was USGA-spec, but it wasn’t nearly as clean as the Hugh King sand which is much better. It drains better, it has firmed up the surfaces and it is a lot easier to brush in. It makes our job easier because we can get the sand into the canopy a lot easier and quicker, and that means we can get the surfaces back in play much quicker than we did previously.”
You also use Hugh King’s rootzone. How did that come about?
“Last year we built two new tees – one with Hugh King’s rootzone and the other with a local rootzone mix. It is night and day between the two. Hugh King’s rootzone is far superior. The roots are far deeper. The tee is much firmer and drier, and the grass is much stronger and better looking. That was the first time we used Hugh King’s rootzone and that’s why we’re using it this winter. We’ll use 80 tonnes of it over the course of the year, although we’ve already used 40 tonnes in the drainage works.”
What makes Hugh King’s rootzone perform so well?
“The rootzone blends in exceptionally well. More importantly, it is a very good growing medium. The root development has been fantastic.”