Grounds team build then fight to save golf course

A grounds team that turned grazing scrub into an open-status golf course in five years had a heart-stopping moment when floods threatened to ruin everything on the eve of the event, attendees at an IOG Saltex seminar heard last week.

Castle Stuart Golf Course was transformed by the five grounds staff into a top course with greens, fairways, 29 bunkers and an art deco club house in time for the 2011 Scottish Open. The team sculpted land and brought in heather, broom and gorse to attract wildlife.

However on the eve of the open the course on the east coast of Scotland overlooking Moray Firth was hit by 88mm of rain in three hours and further downpours: bunkers collapsed, rivulets coursed across greens and maintenance areas were flooded.

Course manager Chris Haspell had to covert golf buggies into squeegee machines, use automatic pumps and fire up a 30-tonne excavator to stabilise collapsed banks, one of which has "burst like a blister" sending debris spilling 80 yards.

"But we got to the Sunday and you would not have thought anything had happened," he told of the clear-up job. "Doing everything in house saved money, as contractors are time sensitive, so during construction we could revisit areas and make changes."

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