King’s Links, one of Aberdeen’s best-loved golf courses, has fully reopened nearly a year after it was severely damaged by a chemical blunder.
Since then, staff at Golf Aberdeen – part of Sport Aberdeen, which operates King’s Links along with the city’s other public courses at Balnagask and Hazlehead – have been hard at work restoring the greens to their former glory.
The charity’s maintenance partners idverde have overseen the work, with advice from the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI).
A mammoth catalogue of work carried out over the autumn and winter months consisted of regular surface brushing, reseeding with fine turfgrass, topdressing, rolling and mowing and a nutritional programme, including fertilisers and soil improvers.
And this weekend, Golf Aberdeen was finally able to open the greens to golfers once more.
Sport Aberdeen’s managing director Alistair Robertson said: “We are very pleased with the outcome of the intensive programme of rectification works on the greens. STRI gave a very positive and encouraging final review and were impressed at how they have stood up to the snow and ice over the winter months.
“I am delighted that we are now in a position to re-open the greens and I am confident that, as we move through spring, the better weather will mean the course will continue to recover from the prolonged winter weather and flourish.
“I am sure that we have a very positive season ahead for Golf Aberdeen members and players and I would like to extend my thanks to them for their patience while these rectification works took place. I would also like to thank our staff and maintenance partners who have worked hard to ensure the greens are in the condition they are now.”
Senior officials at STRI put the success of the programme down to a “team ethic”.
Gary Smith, the organisation’s regional turfgrass agronomist, added: “The challenges of regenerating damaged grass plants alongside germinating new seedlings into mature grasses in poor weather conditions are enormous, however, with perseverance and patience, underpinned by the decisions made to close the greens to play, allowed the targeted outcomes to be achieved.
“All parties should be congratulated on the positive can do attitude taken and adoption of the primary concerns of cardinal importance for grass plant health and longer term improved surface renewal.”
What the golfers said
First to tee off after the course reopened was William Pirie, who hit the first ball shortly before 6am on Saturday along with friends John Wood and Scott Davidson.
“It’s fantastic,” he said.
“We played here most of the winter and the course was always in good nick but it was exceptional.
“For early season greens they were all really good, a few bumpy bits but that’s to be expected. It’s great to be back on a lovely day.”
John added: “It’s good to see lots of familiar faces back out on the course. I thought the greens were in really good condition.
“I’ve been on different courses over the last four or five weeks and this is right up there with the other ones I’ve been playing on, so well done.”
The remainder of the weekend saw the course busy with golfers, with the revitalised greens garnering positive reviews.
Many were members of Caledonian, Northern and Bon Accord golf clubs, which use King’s Links as their home course.
Caledonian captain David Forbes said: “Sport Aberdeen, idverde and all the greens staff have done a great job of bringing them back to the condition they are in. They have done a great amount of work on the greens and the bunkers.
“It’s very positive for everyone concerned.”
To mark the full reopening of King’s Links, Golf Aberdeen invited Aberdeen Journals to try the course on the first weekend.
Evening Express reporter Jamie Hall and Press and Journal sports writer Andy Skinner were asked to give their verdict.
Jamie said: “At its best King’s Links is a great test of golf and that was certainly the case.
“The greens were in great condition which shows what a great job has been done to sort out the issues they had. We could not have asked for more.
“Everyone involved deserves enormous credit in getting the course back to peak condition. As summer rolls around it will only get better and I’m definitely looking forward to another round in the very near future.”
Andy added: “It was great to get back to playing King’s Links as we best remember it.
“The course and particularly the greens were in excellent condition, which served us a very true links test.
“I was pleased to see so many people out enjoying a round, there was a very pleasant atmosphere around the course and I’ll certainly look forward to going back with friends in the months to come.”