Sand Management - A helping hand with native sand

James Kimmingsin Golf

We spoke to Marc Wilcock, Course Manager at Conwy Golf Club, about the quest to be sustainable with his sand management... from screening to large clearing projects.

M arc explained his reasoning for using their own sand for recent projects: “We have undergone vast development projects to create wildlife habitats, plus we use on average 150 tonne of sand on the greens throughout the year and then another 250 tonne around tees and fairways. We had been buying the sand externally, but had a thought to recycle some of the native sand that we have here.”

“So far, we have saved £13,500 on 300 tonne of sand. We have had it ready for about a year, but we wanted to find someone local to help with the screening work.”

Marc looked to Arwyn Jones, who was a greenkeeper at Conwy over twenty years ago: “We wanted to use someone who understands the sand and the course; Arwyn was the perfect fit given his history within the club. He worked all the sand through a screener and we were left with two separate piles; one which included big roots and stones and the other with smooth sand. It only took about a day for him to complete the work.”

The club has also been clearing areas of the course where there had been large gorse bushes, Marc explains why: “Gorse has a long-life span and some of it had never been touched reaching seven feet tall in certain areas; it either keeps going upwards or outwards. We removed it to try and get down to sand and open up the area a little, as we are attempting to recreate what the land would have looked like hundreds of years ago. It also allows areas of grass and wildflower to be able to grow in these areas, then you start to see more wildlife come to the course.”

The sandy areas have provided the opportunity to mine sand that the club can use for multiple jobs around the course; 300 tonne of sand and at least 300 tonne of soil material will be put back into other projects. Marc expanded: “The sand will mostly be utilised for topdressing, then if we have any left, we will use it to promote Marram Grass growth. The rest of the material will have some better nutrients in it, so that will be used for weak areas around bunkers. Having this material allows us to be able to undertake development work more freely. In addition, the soil has saved a further £15,000 for 300 tonne, plus further savings for future projects. We will now be able to use other parts of the budget towards wetting agents and machinery.”

Finally, he explained how the native sand can be more sustainable for golf courses: “Not all golf courses are lucky enough to have lots of sand. However, a few inches over large areas can give you lots of material to recycle back into the course. I have attended a few R&A seminars which have mentioned there may be a shortage of sand in the future, and you will have no other option but to recycle from within the course.”