Caldwell Golf Club

The West of Scotland may be famed for many things, such as its beauty, but it also has a reputation of being one of the wettest places in the UK. Paul McNair, head greenkeeper at Caldwell Golf Club, knows that more than most. “We have very high rainfall in this area,” he admits. “In one year, 90 inches fell. We were on par with the Loch Lomond area.”

caldwell-case-studyNestled in a peaceful glen next to a popular route between Glasgow, Prestwick and Troon, the 18-hole course spreads over rolling countryside bordered by mature woodland. The parkland layout straddles the Renfrewshire and Ayrshire borders benefitting from sweeping undulations and magnificent views. It can also be extremely wet.

Perhaps surprisingly, McNair says he has very few problems with flooding. “Following severe rain, the bunkers are always rakable,” he explains. “As long as there are drains underneath, the sand will remain rakable, which is a great help to us. As for the greens, within an hour or two of heavy rain, there are no signs of flooding, and that’s down to the sand and our aeration programme.”

Caldwell Golf Club uses three types of clay-free sand sourced from Hugh King & Co to keep the course free of surface water. The bunkers are topped up with HH22/44 sand while tees, approaches, surrounds and walk-offs are treated with Washed Dune Sand.

The greens are top-dressed after hollow-coring or generally treated during the summer months with A30, which, as a result, has helped McNair achieve his goal of creating purer playing surfaces.

“We were using a sand-soil mix on the greens, but following some advice from the STRI, we wanted to go into straight sand,” McNair explains. “We wanted to do away with any organic content because plenty of organic material was already being built up through the natural degeneration of the grass within the sward. We had received various samples of sand, but the A30 sand couldn’t be beaten for top-dressing the greens.”

The idea was to improve drainage and create a more links-type feel. “While we felt the straight sand would give us a firmer surface, the emphasis was on drainage – the natural soil around here is very water retentive,” he recalls. “By using Hugh King & Co’s A30 as part of our maintenance programme, we were almost trying to replicate the conditions you get on a links course by building up a sand layer.”

The results speak for themselves. In just five years, McNair has been able to nurture firm, free-draining greens that are healthy and playable in all conditions. “You can see the results year on year as the sand profile builds up. The greens are certainly firmer under foot, and drier. We’re very satisfied.”

Matching the most appropriate Hugh King & Co sand with the club’s soil profile, McNair has been able to bring about real and substantial changes to Caldwell Golf Club. “I would have no hesitation in recommending Hugh King & Co’s sands,” he concludes. “I would highly recommend them to any greenkeeper.”