As the most northern links golf course on the United Kingdom mainland, having a top dresser that can spread wet sand like the Dakota 412 from Campey Turf Care Systems is a must at Scotland's Reay Golf Club.
The James Braid designed course is positioned on the edge of Sandside Bay with views of the Pentland Firth and the North Atlantic from every hole. The course and its stunning views have been under the control of Head Greenkeeper Jason Norwood, since March 2021, with the new man aiming to put his stamp on the course, starting with the greens.
As the sole full-time member of staff for the main 18-hole course and junior three-hole, Jason's priority is the greens, with volunteers giving up two days a week to assist with the fairways and roughs. The limited time available to Jason needs to be spent working, and with the Dakota 412, he's able to top-dress as and when he needs to regardless of the sand moisture.
"I've tried to put my own stamp on things here with different types of machinery and different ways of working, and the club has really been on board with that, and one of those things has been buying the new Dakota top dresser," Jason explains.
"The equipment we originally had couldn't cope well with wet sand; it was more of a large-scale fertiliser spreader. As you can imagine at the top of Scotland, there's a lot of rain about so any sand that we do have is normally quite wet, so that was one of the main features of the Dakota for us because it can deal with that quite easily and we still get a good even spread with it.
"We really want to push forward and make use of the North Coast 500 tourist route, which is literally on our doorstep; it passes directly in front of us, so we get a lot of passing visitors now, and I think all year-round performing greens are the main thing golfers are after on a golf course so it's making sure that we can provide that for them.
"We've had the machine since the middle of April, but because of the weather chances to get it out have been limited. I've trialled different settings on our junior course greens to get what we want for the main course, and it's been good so far.
"With it having four wheels the weight is distributed incredibly well, so it doesn't leave a mark on the greens, and the first time I used it you'd have no idea that anything had been done or any heavy equipment had been over the greens it because the footprint was minimal."
The Dakota 412 features accurate and easy to operate calibration with no manual adjustment and has four Ultra-Trac turf tyres on independent floating beam axels for maximum weight distribution, allowing Jason to work without causing viable disruption to the surface.
As part of Campey's installation, and to help Jason get the most out of the machine, Campey Product Specialist, Richard Heywood, walked him through the various settings and features, which Jason views as an invaluable experience.
Jason explains: "Because we are so far north, there is a lot more to consider when ordering machinery. Something that was great for me was being supplied through my machinery dealer Double A with support from Campey by sending Richard to demonstrate how to use the top dresser to the best of its abilities. This proved invaluable to me not having used one before.
"He went through it all, explained what all the different settings were, how to adjust it all, and that was vital. Having someone who knows how to operate it fully really maximises its performance and helps us get the best out of the machine."