Abstract: If you’re tired of looking out at fine turf and irregular bunkers, it’s time for a bunker renovation.Create a checklist and let active members comment on each item
A bunker checklist evaluation includes the following points of discussion:
- The shape of the bunker floor
- The composition of the bunker floor. Does it shed stone?
- Sod condition
- Design integrity. Does it look right?
- Sand playability
- Subsurface drainage. Does it hold water?
- Surface drainage. Do surround grades keep water out of the bunker?
- Sand visibility. Can golfers see sand from fairway/tees?
Each category includes critical components needed to having a suitable golf course bunker.
Shape of bunker floor-I always look for a well constructed bunker floor. Sand installed 6 inches deep should reflect the exact shape of the bunker floor. It should sweep up when approaching noses and capes, and lower when facing the line of play. Bunker sand installed with a variable depth creates many playability problems including fluffy sand.
Composition of bunker floor-Bunker floors that shed stones create obvious playability problems. If modification is needed, bunker liners can be installed. Another option is to remove 12″ of bunker floor subsoil, and reinstall a dense, silty fill material. Both options require replacement of existing bunker sand.
Sod condition-Many bunkers have sod management problems. Sharp, irregular bunker contours create irrigation problems. I’ve done many bunker face renovations. After existing sod removal, screened topsoil is installed on the exposed bunker face. It’s a great time to sharpen bunker contours. Install new sod and sod stakes.
Design integrity-Some bunkers don’t look right. I’ve seen newly constructed bunkers replaced after a few seasons. If a consensus says that the bunker doesn’t work, develop a written proposal to remove or reconstruct the feature.
Sand playability-Bunker sands vary in structure and appearance. Test unpopular bunker sand to determine if sand needs replacement. Choose three final sand selections, then divide a practice bunker into three sections. Let your members or decision makers decide.
Sand visibilty– You’ve seen hidden bunkers. After hitting a wonderful drive, you find yourself muttering about the unseen bunker. Some can be fixed by lowering the entrance grades. Other require major reconstruction.
Subsurface drainage-Wet bunker floors infuriate golfers. Modern golf courses have subsurface pipe installed below the sand line. A drainage retrofit involves removal of existing sand and installation of 4″ double-wall hdpe pipe in a bed of drainage stone. I use hdpe pipe with a geofabric envelop, backfilled with bunker sand. The trench is typically cut 8″ into the bunker floor.
Surface drainage-Bad golf course shapers direct surface water into bunkers, creating obvious water problems. Properly constructed bunkers are surrounded by subtle swales that direct water way from bunker faces. A repair involves stripping sod and loam while developing a sensible water shedding theme. Plan on removing sod 15′ from the bunker edge.
Create a checklist to evaluate your bunkers. Create pricing options for your members or owners.