Summary: Golf course managers have several options when construction bunker edges. These options include:
*Hand-formed edges made of tamped topsoil
*Wooden edges, staked and backed up with topsoil
Hand-formed edges are built after completion of the bunker floor when most of the subgrade soil is in place. The proposed edge is painted on the bunker floor and topsoil is carefully placed on the back side of the line. Laborers hand tamp the edge into a square form. It’s important to use topsoil that compacts well, sandy loam doesn’t work.
These edges look great for a few minutes. Inquisitive green chairman traffic will quickly destroy the edge. Heavy rain will require a rebuild with new material because the old material will be wet.
If the bunker is completed, this type of edge will eventually degrade in high traffic locations where golfers exit the bunker.
Wooden edges are built of Luan or thin plywood cut in sections 8″ by 48″. This configuration makes the wood very bendable. An edge line is painted on the bunker floor, and the wooden edge is placed and staked on the line. This configuration is more durable than hand-formed edges. After approval, topsoil is carried over the top of the wooden edge.
The wood decomposes quickly. Don’t let the wood get wet or you’ll have a problem. Marine plywood is a very expensive option.
The first two options are difficult to field adjust. I like to install “draft version” of bunker edges, then allow for the architect or golf course representative to stand away from the bunker and approve the sand line. Sometimes it takes a half-hour of that wavy hand-waving you see on golf course construction projects. A few times it’s led to full blown arguing between opinionated green committee members.
I’m in the golf course business and I always allow for field adjustments. I’m not working on a nuclear power plant with tight specifications. Golf course construction is a fluid process, and I want approval of the sand line before we return the topsoil against the bunker edge. Edge adjustments are the norm. We often move the edge, and move it back. My goal is construction of a bunker edge and sand line that everyone will be happy with.
Bunker bags are hemp bags filled with screened, heavy topsoil. These bags are 30″ x 20″, and they are shipped in 500 bag pallets. They are half-filled with topsoil and placed on the painted bunker edge. Skilled construction laborers install the bags tightly in line, on the edge. An installed bunker bag has a square shape formed by a few whacks of a hand-tamper.
The bunker bag edges are easy to adjust. I’ve been through the scenario many times. Position a laborer in the bunker. Stand a few hundred feet way with the golf course representative and let them start the hand waving. After they decide on an edge configuration, adjust the edge as requested. Move the bags around all day if requested; they are durable and workable. At some point you’ll get approval.
The bunker bags are surfaced with a few inches of topsoil, and sod is installed over the edge. The hemp decomposes after a few months, and the edge topsoil remains as a durable edge.
Use bunker bags to create workable golf course bunker edges. They also work well with minor edge reconstructions.