Closing from November until March, the 17-strong greenkeeping team at Kingsbarns has a busy winter ahead. As course and facilities manager Innes Knight explains, it makes quite a change from looking after over 100 guests a day.
How does the closed season differ from the playing season at Kingsbarns?
“During the summer, we are mainly carrying out routine, low-disruptive maintenance. There’s a lot to do, but we are very sensitive not to disturb the playing surface. There are daily chores that have to be done, but ultimately you’re polishing. During the winter closure, we’re able to be more aggressive with the surfaces and it also allows us to tackle major renovation projects. You’re changing from looking after over 100 golfers a day to having a free reign to be creative. It’s nice to have both. It keeps it interesting.”
What have you got planned for your closed season?
“We’re going to verti-drain all the fairways and then, weather permitting, topdress all the fairways with Hugh King sand. That’ll help keep the surfaces dry. We’ve also verti-drained all the greens and we’re going to core and sand all of the tees. And then there’s the gorse maintenance, irrigation repairs, 25 bunker revetts, renovation work on the pitching green and driving range and improvements to worn pathways; so that should keep us busy.”
That’s a lot of work. What’s your ultimate objective for the playing surfaces?
“The aim is to dilute any thatch that’s been building up, improve the drainage and level out the surfaces.”
How does the weather affect your plans?
“It’s been very wet so far, so you just don’t want to go anywhere near any construction work. And if it’s frozen solid, that’s another problem. Somewhere in between would be nice. When you have challenging weather, you have to change the maintenance plan because there’ll be certain areas you just can’t go near, so you end up jumping around different jobs. Then, when you get the weather, you can move back into the subbase and you can do all the changes you wanted to do with the diggers. It’s called reactive management.”
How much sand will you use?
“In total, about 300 tonnes across the whole course. For instance, we topdress the greens 10 times during the season and once or twice during the winter depending on what the weather’s doing. We’ve been using Washed Dune sand from Hugh King to do this for 12 years now.”
Why have you kept with Hugh King for so long?
“Consistency – when we receive a load of Washed Dune sand, we know we’re going to get a consistent, stone-free batch every time. If I was to get 20 loads delivered one after the other, I would know the first one and the last one would be exactly the same. We have tried other companies and they’re not as dependable.”
Why is the consistency so important to you?
“You gain confidence when you know a product has been tested and it’s going to be the same quality for all the deliveries you’ll get. That means a lot.”