Staying ahead of the game
Salsco speeds the rolling process … and the ball
You can take your pick of 21 fine courses on the Scotland’s ‘golf coast’ stretching eastwards from Edinburgh. In amongst Muirfield, North Berwick and Gullane you will find Craigielaw, which also boasts a luxurious lodge hotel and the all-round ability to deliver hospitality and cuisine … plus exceptional golf.
Maintaining and developing the on-course experience is a challenge that Head Greenkeeper Paul Hay was very happy to take on in 2021. With it came the opportunity to update the club’s machinery including adding fine finishing capabilities of a Salsco HP11-III roller. He sourced it from his local Thomas Sherriff dealership who were in turn supplied by Lister Wilder as Salsco’s sole UK importer.
“This is the first time the club has had a turf roller,” says Paul. “We wanted the ability to manicure our greens a bit more finely and get the ball speed up when we needed to. We looked at the options and liked the fact that the Salsco not only did the job very well but had a number of important extras including a lights kit and brushes plus a beefy trailer.”
The big attraction, however, lay in the Salsco’s capacity to do its job both effectively and quickly at the beginning of the golfing day. “In winter, it’s too dark to work before 8am but we have to have all 19 greens progessively ready ahead of play,” adds Paul. “We had the Salsco on demo and found that, given its rolling width, we could do the whole course in two-and-a-half hours, which is pretty exceptional. The brushes are effective in keeping the roller clean so wet sand isn’t a worry.”
The Salsco boasts three oscillating rollers with a total working width of some 1.85 metres (73 inches). With all three rolls independently powered, traction up slopes and banks is exceptional in wet or dry conditions, and the roll-to-ground contact is 100% so the turf is smoothed without changing the surface. Using the option to add water to the rolls increases the pounds per square inch (PSI) from 7.0 to 9.2. The fact that the roll housings articulate at different degrees of travel, allows turning without bruising.
The roller was delivered in November 2021. The greenkeeping team have used it once a week in winter and will do so more often in the summer depending on green conditions. “It will be a good tool for summer time,” says Paul. “Our members are expecting fast greens all the time so it will be a bit of a balancing act for us.”
Taking the Head Greenkeeper’s job at Craigielaw came for Paul after 26 years at Gullane, where he rose from 16-year-old apprentice to become Head Greenkeeper on the famed championship course which hosted the Scottish Men’s Open Championship in 2015 and both the Scottish Men’s and Women’s Open Championships in 2018. “Gullane gave me exceptional experience but now the big decisions are mine,” he says. “Craigielaw really does represent a wonderful career opportunity.”
Craigielaw’s course was designed by Donald Steel & Co and opened in 2001. In the years since, it has hosted many national events including the 2006 Scottish Amateur Strokeplay Championship, and was a qualifying course for the 2007 British Seniors Open at Muirfield as well as hosting the 2018 and 2019 Scottish Seniors Open. With challenging greens, cavernous bunkers and spectacular views over the Firth of Forth, Gullane Hill and out towards Edinburgh and Fife, Craigielaw is an experience not to be missed.