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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58 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 09.18 fic. You'll be changing this space to an invited location for cart operation, so before beginning any work, consult your carts' operators manual for the percent slope or angle degree for safe op - eration. Make sure your slopes are below that. Now, what will it take to get the bunker you originally photographed to look like the final goal? You want to ensure that what you replace the bunker with will be lower-maintenance and that upkeep can be done with existing equip - ment. Take into consideration what equipment you already use to mow this area. In general, I try to make fairway bunkers softer for our rough mower. Greensides have more undula - tions, as we use smaller mowers. e point is: Don't create a new job. I treat every bunker project as its own small renovation, regardless of whether we'll be replacing the sand or shifting to grass. In a nutshell, you'll take out the old sand; remove, repair and replace the drainage; and edge the sides. At the end, consult the powers above you on whether to go with sand or no sand. If no sand, bunker edges need to be transi - tioned to the bottom. We use an 8-foot-long, 1-by-2-inch piece of lumber as a straightedge to follow the existing slope to meet the bottom. Paint a hash mark, and while you're there, put a level on the piece of lumber to check that the slope isn't more than your carts' maximum slope value for safe operation. If it's too high, soften the slope until it meets your needs. Con - tinue around the entire bunker until you have an outer fill area. You can haul in new material to fill the area — it should match the existing material as closely as possible — or, at Westchester, we've shaved a steep but shallow slope using a tractor and rototiller, and this generates the needed ma - terial while also softening the slope. Such areas must be checked often until they're sodded, to make sure the altered slope or grade can be eas - ily maintained. A good mechanical sand rake operator is handy here to push the fluffy mate - rial where you need it. We've also used com- posted homemade topsoil made of silt, bunker sand and grass clippings rototilled together. We let it sit over the winter and rototill it again to create the "fluff" for fill and final grade. Sod and see Now it's time for the fun stuff: getting dirty. With the contour prep done, bunker removal becomes a regular sod project. Do a final raking of the fluff, firm up the soil, fertil - ize beneath where the sod will lie, and install the sod in a straight-line pattern as much as possible. Your less-experienced staff members can lay the main sections while the veterans deal with the detailed cut-ins on the edges. When laying sod to fill a bunker, I prefer to use as much of a full piece as possible on the edges adjacent to the existing turf on the upper edges of the slopes. e smaller pieces dry out too quickly on the slopes. We use the smaller pieces to finish the lower locations. When done sodding, get out the hoses and keep the area wet until it's well rooted and can handle cart traffic. We've opened these reno - vated plots after just a couple of weeks, but we keep carts off them for a month or two. I limit the number of bunkers under repair at any given time to usually just one on each nine. We alternate starting nines daily and ro - tate the two projects to give us the maximum amount of time to work each day without af - fecting play. We set up barrier netting when we work if needed. Our first ousted bunker was a steep-sided fairway bunker on No. 18. Rebuilding it after every downpour just wasn't cost-effective. To date, we've removed 35 bunkers from West - chester GC. We've reduced the size of the remaining 38 bunkers, and they now have deeper sand to minimize washouts and gentle slopes for ride-on equipment. I estimate we've cut the amount of sand on the course by 40 percent, mowing time by 50 percent and rak - ing manpower by 80 percent. At first, golfers were skeptical about the course being as tough minus as many bun - kers, but they've come to appreciate less sand in the remaining bunkers and those bunkers receiving better maintenance. My crew likes that they have way fewer washouts to deal with and less string trimmer work, and the pro shop likes that the number of complaints has dropped to zero. As for me, I sleep a lot bet - ter knowing that raking bunkers following an inch and a half of rain is no longer a weeklong process — just about half a day's work. Mark Novotny, CGCS, is the superintendent at Westches- ter Golf Course in Canal Winchester, Ohio, where he has worked since 1996. A 30-year member of the association, Mark earned a scholarship from GCSAA in 1990 while attending Ohio State University for turfgrass management. He also holds a bachelor's degree in business administra - tion from Youngstown State University. So long, sand: A present-day view of an area on Westchester's first fairway that was previously occupied by a bunker. The bunker was removed in 2014. Leo Feser Award CANDIDATE This article is eligible for the 2019 Leo Feser Award, presented annually since 1977 to the author of the best superintendent-written article published in GCM during the previous year. Superintendents receive a $300 stipend for their articles. Feser Award winners receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Golf Industry Show, where they are recognized. They also have their names engraved on a plaque permanently displayed at GCSAA headquarters.

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