Irrigated but not wet at rocky Gullane


Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

Open qualifying venue Gullane Golf Club in Scotland has installed a new irrigation system, designed by UK consultants Irriplan.

Construction was carried out by MJ Abbott.

Doesn't the very nature of links golf mean that irrigation is anathema? Irriplan's Giles Wardle disagrees. "One doesn't want 'green' turf on a links fairway, but to have healthy turf during a dry summer, with windy conditions, on a sandy soil, it is imperative to have irrigation to be able to maintain a quality playing surface," he said. The indigenous fescues and bents are deep rooted and have adapted to the seaside conditions over millennia but need to be managed.

Abbott's Nigel Wyatt said: "Irrigation on a links course is to be used as a management tool, not artificial rain." Gullane is not a flat property that has only. dunes to provide elevation, said Wardle: "There is more than 60m difference in elevation across the site. To achieve sufficient pressure in the upper parts while not overpressurising the lower parts it was necessary to design the system with two separate hydraulic zones, a low-pressure zone and a boosted high-pressure zone, each with distinct pipe networks." The granite that lies under Gullane presented particular problems during construction.

"Rock excavation and subsequent reinstatement were the biggest challenges during the contract at Gullane," said Wyatt.

"These were overcome by using excavators with breakers and a rockwheel trencher." The system has been designed with the capacity to extend the irrigation system in the future to the fairways on courses 2 and 3.