Golf Course Management

SEP 2018

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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54 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 09.18 AT THE TURN (bunkers) Mark Novotny, CGCS A greenside bunker on the 10th hole of Westchester Golf Course in Canal Winchester, Ohio, gets a renovation following a flood in 2017. Superintendent Mark Novotny, CGCS, has removed nearly half the course's original 73 bunkers. Photos courtesy of Mark Novotny The art of bunker removal An Ohio superintendent shares his process for eliminating bunkers — and the resources they require — while maintaining course aesthetics and architectural integrity. Over the years, given a tightening budget, I've been removing bunkers here at Westchester Golf Course in Canal Winchester, Ohio, about 15 miles southeast of Columbus. e 18-hole semiprivate course was designed by Michael Hurdzan, with Bill Kerman as the lead architect. When the course opened in 1997, we had 73 bunkers, which was fairly typical at the time. ose 73 bunkers occupied 2.02 acres, translating to about 1,520 tons of sand — by some standards, a manageable number of bunkers to maintain. In reality, though, with each bun - ker having a seven-year life span, we were renovating 10 bunkers per year, moving 217 tons of sand in and out. Fast-forward a few years, and 12 golf courses had been built within 20 miles of Westchester GC. e competition for golfers became even more evident when the economic downturn hit in 2008. I've been at Westchester since its beginning, and we initially had about 32,000 labor hours per year. As each year passed, I was asked to reduce, reduce and reduce. Today, we target 16,000 hours. As the total number of hours spent in the bunkers decreased, the number of bunker- related complaints increased. We needed to curb the complaints by reducing the total amount of sand we were maintaining. (For me, as superintendent, it's less important how many sand-filled craters are on the course. I'm concerned about the amount of sand filling those craters.) Pinpoint the bunker's purpose Removing bunkers means sculpting the land for years to come, affecting every golfer's percep- tion of the course's playability. e art of bunker removal comes in the planning and the under- With each bunker having a seven- year life span, we were renovating 10 bunkers per year, moving 217 tons of sand in and out.

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