Despite being one of the world’s oldest golf clubs, Crail Golfing Society rarely stands still. After picking up his 25-year service award, Bob Meikle talks us through the changes at the Fife club and his busy winter schedule.
What are your plans for the winter?
“Well, we’re putting in a brand new irrigation system into the Balcomie Course, and we had to knock down our old greenkeeping shed to make room for the bigger irrigation tank. We’ve just put in a new shed extension which should be completed next week once we get the snagging list done. That’s been a big job, but it’s all linked with the irrigation. It’s been very busy. It’s exciting times.”
“It’s good that the club is reinvesting – this is a massive project. It’s good that Crail is thriving so we can do this kind of project. Our visitor numbers are up as is our membership. We are really busy.”
The irrigation project must be a significant undertaking.
“The planning for this has been ongoing for six years – we went through the design stage, we confirmed rough budget costs before going to the members, we made a booklet and had a members’ forum to really get the members on side. There has been a lot of communication. And then we had a special general meeting to explain how it would be funded. We got everything signed off in April this year. It will be completed in March 2020.”
How will this affect play on the course?
“We’re going to have certain holes open depending on where the irrigation company is working. No medals will be allowed on the course. They will instead be played on our other course; the Craighead Course. Only bounce games will be allowed on the Balcomie. It should officially be closed but we’re trying to meet the members in the middle.”
Are you using this as an opportunity to do any other work around the course?
“When the course is closed, we’re going to rebuild bunkers and put more sand on the greens because they’re not going to be used as much. We’re going to smother the greens in Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand. We’ve just mini-cored and seeded them, and now we’ve put on three tonnes of sand per green in the last three weeks to fill the core holes and cover the seeds.”
How much sand are you using?
“Because the greens won’t be getting much play, we’re going to topdress again in another three weeks. So that would be nine tonnes per hectare. We try to apply 120 tonnes of sand a year, but that depends on the fixture list. This project gives us the opportunity to get a little bit more on.”
Why is it so important to get as much sand as possible on the greens?
“We trying to promote firmer greens and dilute the thatch, and with the new irrigation system, we’ll have better putting surfaces as well because we’ll have better water coverage and, hopefully, use less water because we won’t have leaks in the system. The old system had leaks. The glued joints were failing because they were 30 years old and had passed their life expectancy.”
In particular, how is Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand helping with this project?
“As well as topdressing the greens, we’re using the sand behind the irrigation company. When they’re ploughing or piping, there will be little defects that we’ll have to cover with seed and Washed Dune sand to level off the surfaces and help recovery.”
You’ve been using Hugh King for about six years. Why do you stick with them?
“It’s the consistency and the good relationships we have built up with Hugh King and their distributors. The sand gets delivered first thing in the morning so we can get it to where we want it, in the shed or in the bay, with no hassle. It’s a very good relationship we have with Hugh King. Every time we get a load, it’s always consistent. It’s always clean and not contaminated in any way.