The Course Manager’s Calendar – September

There’s been a lot going on at Auchterarder Golf Club with the introduction of an irrigation system and a new bunker sand. Course manager Archie Dunn talks us through the changes and what impact they’ve had on the Perthshire course

What prompted the club to invest in a new irrigation system?
“We had such a bad time last year; we got burnt out really badly on the greens. That was the catalyst to get the irrigation system installed. In February, we got a brand new system on greens, tees and approaches.”

What impact has the new system had?
“The main benefit is we’re able to put on our top-dressing and irrigate it to wash in the sand much quicker than we did previously. The top-dressing is working much better for us because we have the ability to apply water and get it working straight away.”

So the new irrigation system isn’t really about water.
“Because it’s been such a wet summer, we’ve used the irrigation system more for maintenance procedures than actual irrigation. For instance, we put the top-dressing down, drag brush it and put on some water and most of the sand is gone. Before we were totally dependent on the weather. It’s up to us now – we’re not waiting on the weather to do the job for us.”

So you have more control. Are there any other benefits?
“We’ve got much more consistency because we can keep the moisture levels where we want them. It’s much better. The benefits, however, won’t really be apparent to our members until we get a dry spell, but that’s not happened this year. We’ve had four times the amount of rainfall this year between May until August as we had last year.”

You also introduced King Bunker 7 sand. What prompted that?
“We were using a local sand in the bunkers, but it wasn’t doing the job. It was good, but it compacted too easily. We’ve got old bunkers that are low-lying, so they can become quite wet. Bunker 7 is much better for us. It drains better and we end up with much more playable bunkers.”

How did you find out about the sand?
“We introduced it last year after a recommendation from a friend who had been using it for about four years. I looked at his course and the kind of results he was getting and thought we should use it as well. Years ago we used a white sand in the bunkers, but people complained about the sand splash on the greens. Hugh King’s sand isn’t that brilliant white, so it’s not as noticeable.”

Have you introduced King Bunker 7 throughout the course?
“We’re working our way through the bunkers as we renovate them, putting in the new sand as we go. We’ve done about 30% so far – we only have 40 bunkers. We’ve done most of the greenside bunkers which are the most important ones. We wanted to get these done first because that’s where you want a better quality surface.”

You’re also using King Medium Coarse sand on tees and greens. When did you start using that and what impact has it had?
“We’ve been using it since Hugh King introduced it four or five years ago. The greens are much better and are firming up. It brushes in and spreads well. After it’s been brushed in, it disappears, so we’re really happy. We would have gone for Hugh King’s Washed Dune sand but we have a very heavy clay profile, so we needed something that would help improve the surface drainage and get some percolation off the top of the surface.”

How would you describe the service from Hugh King?
“It is absolutely excellent. We can order a delivery through our distributor Go Green and we’ll have it the next day or the day after. It’s a very good service which hasn’t changed under the new ownership.”