After an 11-year gap, Carnoustie will once again host The Open in 2018. Despite the gap, the man in charge of all three courses at Carnoustie Golf Links, Sandy Reid, says it could be the best championship yet.
First of all, congratulations on winning the Environmental Golf Course of the Year award!
“Yes, it was at Harrogate. It was the third time we’d been shortlisted for the award so it was hugely gratifying. We work a lot with the STRI paying close consideration to lots of parts of the environment – waste and habitat management for instance. But one thing that made us stand out this year was our work with the local community especially our work with schools and charities.”
With July not too far away, how are the preparations going for The Open?
“The last two winters have been really busy but it’s all coming along nicely. We’ve been rebuilding a lot of bunkers. This winter we revetted around 80 bunker faces. We’ve also created a lot more spectator mounding and cleared gorse to enhance spectator movement around the course. We’ve tried to create the mounds in an aesthetically pleasing way that looks natural. It has also been a way of managing our waste because we create the mounds using old turf and soil which we then sand cap.”
Will there be any changes to the greens in July compared to 2007?
“They’ll be firmer. Firmer and more consistent. There is less of a variance on the firmness of the greens between wet and dry conditions. After rain, our greens don’t soften as much as they used to. We’re at a stage where we are in more control of the grass in different weather conditions rather than the other way round.”
How much of that is down to sand?
“A massive amount of the improvements we’ve made has been down to the sand. We use about 350 tonnes per year of Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand on the greens across the three courses at Carnoustie. We’ve found it is the best sand for us to achieve these kind of results.”
So the players might notice a difference if they haven’t been back since 2007.
“The greens were brilliant back in 1999, but there wasn’t a focus on that. Our greens were good in 1999 and in 2007, but they perform better now. They are easier to manage, and they will be firmer than in ’07 and ’99, which should provide a bit more of a challenge. We have more consistent greens that are easier to manage and require fewer inputs, such as nutrition, which is great.”
In terms of your preparation for The Open, you must be happy with the progress made.
“We’re happy with how things are looking. In relation to the performance of the greens, we’re confident they’ll be excellent for The Open. The process of putting the volume of sand we’ve put down over the last 10-12 years has been the main factor in achieving that. Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand is excellent. All the Open venues in Scotland are using it, so that tells you that it’s the best.”