Storm-hit Dunbar will be fit to host boys' event

NEXT year's Scottish Boys Championship looks set to go ahead as planned at Dunbar after the East Lothian club forked out a substantial sum to repair extensive damage caused by a storm last March.

Concern about the condition of the East Links, which was the event's home for a decade but now stages it every four years, has led to Scottish Golf Union tournament officials paying two separate visits in recent months.

After the first of those, it seemed as though an alternative venue might be required but, following a massive re- turfing operation over the past few weeks, a leading agronomist has given assurances that Dunbar will be ready to stage the first big event of the 2011 domestic season.

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Debris was strewn across the course, which is also due to host final qualifying for the Open Championship when it returns to Muirfield in 2013, following the storm back on 30 March. While volunteers helped with a clearing up operation straight afterwards, it wasn't until the summer that greenkeeping staff discovered the grass was dying in front of their eyes due to the salt water that had been tossed on to the course.

"The course had been affected greatly by damage done during the storm in March and, on the first occasion we went down there, it looked pretty poor as the contractors were in the process of digging up the dead areas," said Euan Mordaunt, the SGU's Events Manager.

"We probably saw it at its worst but, since then, Souters of Stirling have done a massive amount of work, laying something like 10,000 square metres of turf. The transformation has been fantastic, as we were greatly encouraged to see on our most recent visit.

"They have pulled out all the stops to get the work done on schedule and both the head greenkeeper and Richard Windows, the STRI's agronomist, have assured us the course will be ready for next April. The Scottish Boys is one of our major championships and we have no further concerns at the moment about it going ahead as planned at Dunbar."

Ten holes were affected by the damage, some worse than others. "The SGU tournament officials looked pretty dismayed when they paid their first visit to check on the course, but they came back and were amazed with the transformation back to a golf course," said Dunbar secretary John Archibald.

"After the storm, around 150 volunteers helped clear the debris and rubble off the course in three days. However, it wasn't until two or three months later that we realised the salt water had killed the grass and, therefore, we had to do something."