For the first time in its 121-year history, the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers has sourced bunker sand for its Muirfield course from outside its own property.
As a result of dwindling supplies of native sand on the East Lothian property the club, which will play host to next year's Open Championship, opted for sand supplied by Scottish firm Hugh King & Co.
The club began the sand-exchange programme in March swapping materials in all 148 of the courses's bunkers, plus three practice bunkers. The operation required 400 tonnes of King Bunker 8, a heavier sand that is more wind resistant in exposed areas or during windy weather.
“We have always used native sand,” said course manager Colin Irvine. “Before we moved over to Hugh King's sand, we quarried sand off the course but the supply was running out and we were beginning to get inconsistencies. It meant sand in some of the bunkers was blowing away while others weren't draining as well as we liked, so we decided to do an exchange.”
“It had to be free-draining and it had to be the right colour,” Irvine explained. “A lot of people haven't even noticed the change, which is great. As far as I am concerned, no news is good news.”
“We have been supplying Muirfield with topdressing for about six years, so when we were approached about providing bunker sand, it made obvious sense,” said Graeme King, MD of the family-run sand supplier. “The best feedback we have had is that the only complaint Colin received was about a bunker that had yet to get the new sand. Muirfield is one of the best courses in the world, and we are pleased the sand exchange has gone so well.”
With the world's greatest golfers gathering to do battle next year at Muirfield for the 142nd Open Championship, timing was also an issue for the club. “Put it this way; I didn't want to leave it until next spring,” Irvine said. “We wanted to introduce the new sand now to see how well it would drain. In some ways we have been fortunate because we have had so much rain that we've been able to really put the sand through its paces. It has certainly been well soaked and there has been no puddling, so I can only take that as a good sign.”