We asked representatives from bunker renovation companies: What are the telltale signs for a superintendent to look for that will tell him his golf course needs a bunker renovation? Here’s what they had to say:
When a superintendent is forced to allocate manhours and resources to bunker maintenance that would normally be reserved for other integral tasks, it’s probably time for a bunker renovation. When “bunkers” consistently rank at the top of member/ client surveys for areas needing improvement, it’s probably time. When a course is spending as much money on bunker maintenance as on putting greens, it’s probably time. We spend entirely too much time and money on bunker maintenance in our industry. I encourage superintendents to track what they spend on both routine maintenance and post-rain event maintenance. Having this information documented makes it much easier to justify a renovation to an owner or board of directors.
Every superintendent will have to address a bunker renovation. Two obvious signs indicating the need for renovation would be washouts and/or standing water. Ideally, you want water moving through the sand to avoid these issues. Geotextile bunker liners allow the water to move quickly through the sand, significantly reducing washouts and eliminating standing water caused by clogged drain lines.
Here are the telltale signs for a superintendent to look for that will tell him his golf course needs a bunker renovation? No. 1, members are complaining about the inconsistent playing conditions from one bunker to the next. Your sand is contaminated with varying amounts of soil fines and organics. No. 2, members are sustaining a variety of wrist and forearm injuries due to their clubheads snagging on pieces of torn or rotting liners partially protruding from the sand behind their balls. No. 3, your bunkers at times resemble small fishing holes after heavy rains, leaving the dreaded “brown circle” in the bottom of the bunker. No. 4, your members are complaining about large dislodged chunks of bound aggregate resembling asphalt in the bunkers.
We often hear comments that the bunkers do not drain because the drainage is clogged. This is rarely the case. Usually, the sand is so contaminated with fines that they drain very slowly or not at all, and/or the sand retains more water than when it was new. If you compare the current sand gradation to when it was new, you will likely see a significant increase in the fine content and increased water-holding capacity as a result. Make an action plan to address the negative comments. Rebuild a problem bunker from the ground up to showcase the possible improvements.
COVER PHOTO COURTESY OF LAWRENCE AYLWARD