Carnoustie Golf Links

It’s been a busy time at Carnoustie. The testing Angus course has hosted a succession of major events including The Open Championship, The Seniors Open and The Women’s Open all in a four-year period. Without fail, the course has lived up to its reputation as one of the world’s finest tests of links golf.

carnoustie-case-studyJohn PhilpFor John Philp, links superintendant at Carnoustie Golf Links, welcoming the world’s leading players to the Championship Course is about meeting and often exceeding expectations. “The top players want to see true greens with smooth, firm surfaces,” he explains. “They also like to see a bit of speed. No-one wants to see balls leaving marks in the green.”

As you would expect, sand plays a pivotal role in reaching these high standards. “The target has been to firm up the surfaces as much as possible, so sand has been a major part in achieving that along with aeration processes,” says Philp. “We have injected sands and poured it down holes in order to dilute the organic layer in the upper profile of the root zone to improve the free-draining element. The sand helps firm up the green and creates a true surface.”

For a number of years, Carnoustie Golf Links has been using Hugh King & Co’s Washed Dune Sand for topdressing its distinctive greens, testing surrounds and undulating fairways. The clay-free product weaves into the indigenous material seamlessly thereby improving the appearance and playability of the course.

“Top-dressing improves shoot density thereby improving the surface quality of the sward,” Philp explains. “It also encourages fine grasses – if you have a free-draining, dry surface you will encourage fine grasses rather than your undesirable species. So, there are quite a lot of benefits.”

On a roll, Philp goes into more detail about choosing the right sand. “Sand is a key element on any golf course,” he notes. “It’s critical that you get a sand that is compatible with your indigenous root zone. For instance, you can’t have a sand that is too diverse when it comes to particle size. That’s where Hugh King & Co’s sand is so good; most of the particle sizes are within two bands – medium and fine – and are rounded or semi rounded in shape, which is very important.”

If compatibility is king, then colour is undeniably queen. “Colour is also very important,” Philp continues. “A pure, white silica sand can be quite aggressive with the potential of scorching the turf in high temperatures. Washed Dune Sand doesn’t give us any such issues. We want a more natural appearance and easy incorporation into the turf base, so it’s ideal.”

With an assured distribution network often delivering loads within 24 hours of orders being placed, Hugh King & Co and its Washed Dune Sand has become a key fixture at Carnoustie. “It’s been excellent,” Philp concludes. “It’s a high-quality product that improves the root-zone medium which helps resist compaction. And we find every load that comes here is virtually the same. It’s a very dependable product, so we’re very pleased with it.”