Storm Covers Historic Course In Blanket Of Sand

Montrose Golf Links in Scotland bills itself as the fifth-oldest course in the world checking in at over 450 years old. However, over the weekend a storm of biblical proportions turned the seaside links into the “world’s biggest bunker,” according to the turfcare industry website

Storm Deirdre made landfall in the UK over the weekend, displacing sand from the nearby North Sea onto Montrose’s first three holes, completely covering the second fairway and making the holes unplayable.

“This is a result of coastal erosion, the dunes slightly just retreating towards the golf course,” Montrose’s head greenskeeper Darren McLaughlin told PitchCare. “When the wind turns to come from the southeast then effectively there is very little protection. It blows up towards the course, to the second fairway and leaves this fairly thick carpet of sand; and then the fairway is basically unplayable. I have never seen anything like that.”

While the result of the storm is the worst McLaughlin has ever seen, it’s not a total anomaly.

According to a Game Changer report, “the North Sea has crept 70 meters towards Montrose within the last 30 years. The combination of rising sea levels and reducing sediment is moving the shoreline further inland, effectively reversing the conditions that originally created the beaches and dunes. This poses a costly threat to the iconic Montrose Links.”

This week, staffers were on the course on Monday attempting to get the course back into playable condition focusing primarily on overflowing bunkers, but said that they wouldn’t be able to remove the sand from the fairway until at least Wednesday when an industrial blower becomes available.

“What the golf club is trying to make the relevant authorities aware of is that the golf course is at risk,” McLaughlin said. 

“As the sea rises and the coast falls away, we’re left with nowhere to go,” Montrose course director Chris Curnin said in the report from earlier this year.  Climate change is often seen as tomorrow’s problem, but it’s already eating away at our course.”