Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Course Update - Bunkers


Sometimes it is amazing to try count up the man hours needed to have "pristine" bunkers.  Although defined as a hazard, expectations of the modern player forces this golf course feature to be in perfect shape.  Bunkers  fall in line behind our putting surfaces for the amount of time involved to keep them playing consistent.  

During the spring  the greens crew spent considerable time in addressing bunker deficiencies.  The areas that we focused on;

1) Sand depths.  Our Goal was to have a minimum of 4" of sand depth on floor of the bunkers.  After surveying the bunkers we found about 50% of our bunkers were deficient in this area.  Bunker sand becomes displaced by golfer play, maintenance cleaning of bunkers as well as environmental factors such as wind.  Some bunkers were able to be fixed fairly easily by relocating existing sand from an area of surplus sand to an area of need.  To address major deficiencies 100 tons of new sand was dispersed in those areas.

2) Grass faces.   As our bunkers age they present some management challenges.  Most of our bunkers were designed with steep greens side grass faces and shallow sand bottoms.  Over time from sand exiting the bunker from golf shots and wind these grassed faces become worn and the turf becomes thin.  Coupled with the exposure to summer heat it poses a challenge to meet the water requirements in these areas.  The greens crew have sodded major flawed areas, and minor problems are being addressed with extra fertility and hand watering.

 3) Bunker Edges.  The maintenance of our sand traps involves keeping a manicured crisp edge.  This spring all the bunkers were hand edged to restore there appearance, eliminating grass encroachment.  In-season minor string trimming edging is preformed every 1-2 weeks to keep up there appearance.  Overtime the edging process has changed our grass faces into sand faces on the course.

4) Drainage.  Bunkers and bunker sand is designed to have a very quick infiltration rate.  Our bunkers are designed with native soil sides and bottoms with pea stoned drainage lines running through them.  This system has worked adequately, but after 20+ years since construction we have some failures and  bunkers will puddle. A couple of key factors that cause this include;  the drainage piping system being broken or clogged, as well as the contamination of bunker sand with soils from bunker face erosion.

#5 Fairway bunker Restoration Project

After rain events these bunkers became a maintenance nightmare, as water puddled in the bottom of the first bunker, and the second bunker as well staying wet.  We decided it was time to fix the drainage in these bunkers.  During this process all of the existing sand was removed, and the bunker  was best restored to original design. 

1/2" May rain event. 5 fairway bunkers (Green to Tee view)
1 day after a film of soil where the standing water was
Removing old sand
Restoring bunker edges back to original design.  

Adding a new bunker drain through the center.  The existing drainage lines were placed on the left edge and were unable to capture any  water accumulation

Pea stone was installed 1-2" below the floor of the bunker to eliminate stone from mixing with the sand
Installing new bunker sand
Bunkers are finished.  After a few rain storms there has been no standing water.