Golf Course Management

AUG 2014

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

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62 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 08.14 Shrinking budgets have post- poned upgrades at many golf courses across the country, but a growing number have decided that's no excuse to let shabby bunkers drive golfers away. As clubs look to prolong the life of their bunkers, they're abandoning old-school con - struction methods. A few years ago, the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) revised fgures for the life expec - tancy of golf course components, and bunker sand was listed at fve to seven years. In my opinion, we need better solutions than rebuild - ing bunkers every fve to seven years. Although a bunker renovation can be tied into a greens renovation or entire course reno - vation, many times bunkers are done as stand- alone projects because of their shorter life cycle. A renovation may consist of simply replac - ing drainage and sand or it may involve minor tweaking or reshaping of each bunker. When more signifcant changes to bunkers are de - sired, they should also be made at this time as it is most cost-effective to consolidate projects. If you are considering a bunker renovation, I have seven main tips for improving your course while also prolonging the life of your bunkers. Especially after heavy rainfall, surface drainage will carry sand down bunker slopes. Photos courtesy of Jerry Lemons 1 . Drainage, drainage, drainage When it comes to bunkers, nothing is more important than drainage. Here are some basics. • Surface drainage should be routed so no water enters the bunker other than rainfall and irrigation. • Internal bunker drainage should be max - imized, especially on steep bunker slopes. Draining water out of the bunker sand is the key to keeping it in place. Sand erosion will reduce bunker life more than anything else. Nothing ruins bunker sand quicker than contamination caused by washouts. • Create an exit strategy. Getting water out of the bunker through a functional drain pipe will allow quicker return to playability. A 4-inch pipe is almost always suffcient in large bunkers. 2 . Sand selection I used to choose bunker sands on cost alone. I have learned that all sands are nowhere close to being equal. Choose a sand based on accredited lab tests that prove it meets the following criteria: • Drains well (in excess of 20 inches per hour). As clubs look to prolong the life of their bunkers, they're abandoning old-school construction methods.

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