Since switching to Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand, Ian Kinley, course manager at Royal Porthcawl, has seen significant improvements in playing conditions. The changes have been so impressive at the famed links that he plans to expand his top-dressing programme significantly this winter.
What are your plans for October?
“For visitors, September and October are as busy as any months in the calendar. As the seasons change, the links become more of an attraction. In terms of top-dressing, the whole season is treated as one, and the amount of top-dressing we apply reflects the amount of growth we have. Frequency will decrease as growth decreases but here in south Wales, we wouldn’t expect growth to really tail off until the back end November.
“Our target this year was 400 tonnes and I am hopeful we’ll get 500 tonnes on. That’s a reflection of how much it has rained this year which has pushed the sand into the canopy which means we’ve been able to apply more frequently than we anticipated. As often as we can is the approach we’ve taken this year.”
You’ve been using Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand for around 18 months. What changes have you noticed?
“Particularly during a rain event, we have firmer surfaces. Once the rain has passed, we return to normal characteristics really quickly, and that is due to a reduction of organic content through topdressing. We’ve just got a generally drier profile. Our peaks and troughs have narrowed and we are able to maintain more consistent firmness. All the STRI data correlates with what we’re seeing.
“We’re trying to set the environment to favour the indigenous grasses and the top-dressing programme and Hugh King’s sand are helping us in that quest. We anticipate applying 40 tonnes in October which is based on two applications which is roughly a tonne a green. If the weather plays ball, we’ll get more on.”
What about your winter maintenance plans?
“We’re fortunate this winter as we only have three new tees and three bunkers to rebuild, other than that it is purely remedial work – odds and sods of turfing. It’s all about polishing the place from here to the Amateur, which we have next year so we don’t want any disruptions.”
“One thing we will do this winter is embark on a fairly significant top-dressing programme on the aprons and selected areas of the fairways again using the Washed Dune sand from Hugh King. For the aprons we’re looking at 400 tonnes. Fairways are yet to be determined but ideally we would like to get 600 tonnes on in two applications. It’s a lot of grinding for my mechanic – he’s gone grey over night! It’s about extending the maintenance out from the greens to improve the playing characteristics.”