St Andrews Links Trust

St Andrews may be the Home of Golf, but it is also a busy tourist hub and a magnet for golfers around the world. The tranquil notion of the Auld Grey Toon surrounding Old Tom’s fabled links is therefore quickly dispelled when you discover 220,000 rounds are played across the seven courses with 45,000 rounds played on the Old Course alone.

st-andrews-case-studyGordon MoirThe man in charge of making sure the ancient links remain playable despite this onslaught is Gordon Moir, director of greenkeeping. “We have to work around golf,” he says. “Obviously we wouldn’t top-dress two or three days before a large competition or tournament, so we have to work around the golf, the weather and the growing conditions. Top-dressing is a continual thing; if we have got The Open or not.”

The objective, Moir explains, is to top-dress the greens with a 100 tonnes of sand per hectare during a season. To help him do that, St Andrews Links Trust supplements its sand supply with deliveries of Washed Dune Sand from Hugh King & Co.

“We are only allowed to take a certain quantity off the beach every year,” says Moir. “The sand we do take has to be drained because we scrape it off the seabed. It comes with a lot of stones and shells so it also has to be screened, and that’s labour intensive. It is therefore cost effective to get sand from Hugh King & Co especially as it has all been screened before it gets here and it’s very consistent, which means there is absolutely no wastage.”

Convenience isn’t the only factor affecting the Trust’s choice of sand. “The most important thing when you are talking about top-dressing greens is particle size and shape – you have to match your sand to your existing rootzone. There are loads of products out there but unless they match your existing particle size, they are no good; no matter how cheap they are.”

As Moir explains, it’s an ongoing process: “We have to continually top-dress the greens to keep them firm and to dilute the thatch that slowly builds up over time. It is an inconvenience for golfers, however the benefit of the Hugh King & Co’s sand is its colour – it blends in very well. It is hardly noticeable once it has been brushed into the sward. The colour is ideal. We have used other products in the past which have been a lot lighter and more visible. Hugh King & Co’s sand mats in so well, golfers don’t realise the greens have been top-dressed.”

For the last four years, Hugh King & Co’s clay-free Washed Dune Sand has been a key part of the maintenance programme at the Home of Golf. The convenience of delivery and its ability to blend in have made it integral.

“Their sand isn’t too angular therefore it doesn’t really compact that much,” Moir concludes. “It is consistent throughout the particle size range, which is ideal, and one of the things that helps it brush in so well. That’s the reason we use it.”