Abstract: When in doubt, always test golf course construction materials before purchase. When not in doubt, test anyway to confirm salesman’s rhetoric.
Soil testing provides cheap insurance. I remember a big bunker renovation at a private club. The project involved rebuilding 40 bunkers. The owner decided to purchase (and assume the responsibility for quality control) all bunker sand. We installed many feet of bunker drainage on the bunker floor, and we made sure our slope laser worked. The bunker forms looked great and we installed the sand at a uniform six-inch depth. A few months later, seven bunkers had poor drainage and it wasn’t our fault.
A post-installation bunker sand test showed that the sand vendor changed the product halfway through the project. The vendor changed sand pit locations and the new pit had sand loaded with fine silt. The vendor never told the superintendent, and the sand color didn’t change, so the superintendent assumed that all the loads were as quoted. The vendor, new to the golf industry, didn’t know about bunker sand nuances.
We replaced all the bad sand and the superintendent kept his job although he told everyone about the sand fiasco. The sand vendor doesn’t sell to golf anymore.
I always do a batch sample test of root zone mix and bunker sand. Drive over to the pit-I know it takes time-and grab a sample with your own hands. Don’t rely on vendor supplied reports that always show good news. Do your own tests and sleep well.