As course and facilities manager at Kingsbarns Golf Links, Innes Knight, has had a busy time of it. As well as preparing for the Dunhill Links Championship, he has overseen the small matter of this year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open
How was it hosting your first Major?
“The tournament was a huge success. We really enjoyed it. The unpredictable weather made it extremely challenging but it was all worth it in the end. Arriving for morning set-up at 4:15am meant we witnessed some stunning sunrises – the weather gods were kind to us on that shift! Unfortunately evening maintenance was marred with continual downpours. This testing weather pattern forced us to use more of a reactive management style!”
How bad did the weather get?
“On the pro-am day, we had 10mm of rain in 15 minutes. You had to see it to believe it. It was absolutely incredible – rain drops like exclamation marks! I was down at the sixth green when the heavens opened – it wasn’t ideal. I must admit I was a little concerned. Fortunately the panic was short lived when things rapidly started to dry up.”
So the course responded well to the deluge?
“We received a lot of compliments about how quickly the place dried up, especially during the pro-am day. I’ve never seen anything like it. We had 15 minutes of torrential rain and the whole place started to flood. Tees, fairways, greens; everything. And then it stopped and the sun came out and the whole place dried up within 20 minutes.”
A bit stressful then?
“We had a lot of things thrown at us weather wise but we handled it all. We had long days. Some days we started 4:30am out of the shed and got home at 10:30pm at night.”
What part did Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand play in the ability of the course to drain?
“We’ve been building up the layer of sand in the rootzone, which gives us consistency. It also drains well and ensures the course performs how a links course should perform in terms of firmness. We stuck with our programme of topdressing on every maintenance day – we have 10 during the season when we topdress the fairways and the greens. We put down as much sand as we possibly can – today’s topdressing is tomorrow’s rootzone!”
What was the clean-up like?
“By the 18th of August, 99% of the infrastructure from the Women’s Open was away. The course had handled it well. There were a few repairs and some re-turfing to be done and we had to reinstate the carpark which got a bit of a beating with the weather we had.”
And now, full steam ahead for the Dunhill.
“In two weeks’ time, we start the build-up for the Dunhill. It’s nothing like the scale of the Women’s Open. And also, when we do the Dunhill, it’s the end of the season so there is a lot less activity on the golf course. With the Women’s Open, we were right in the middle of the season, so it was like, right boys we’re going to have 240 golfers tomorrow at 6:30am; so let’s go!