Golf Course Management

JAN 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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102 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 01.18 weathering" and may break down into finer particles over time, which "can affect drainage and playability." The location of the sand mine or source should also be considered. Using sand pro - duced close to your location, as long as it falls within recommended specifications and ranges, could have a huge impact on bunker construction budgets. "Sand is heavy. If you have to ship it from somewhere, it could run $15 to $30 per ton, which could be the cost of the sand itself, or more. The sand could be $15 to $30 per ton," Bel Jan says. Finding local sand isn't an issue for Bob Far - ren, CGCS, director of golf course and grounds management at Pinehurst Resort. The famed facility's 10 golf courses sit atop the Sandhills of North Carolina, and the use of local, na - tive sand is part of the character and strategy of most of the resort's courses, but especially Pinehurst No. 2. Designed by Donald Ross and restored to Ross' original design by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore prior to the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open, No. 2 doesn't just highlight the local sand — it embraces it. Before the restoration, Pinehurst No. 2 had 110 to 115 bunkers on the course, Farren says. Following the restoration, only "about 30 definable margins of turf " frame the bunkers that meander across the layout as an integral part of the design. Most of the sand used on the course was from the site itself and falls within the guide - lines recommended by the USGA. Additional sand comes from a sand pit 20 miles down the road and is of the same type and quality as Pinehurst's native sand. "We are spoiled, be - cause it's available to us locally," says Farren, a 37-year GCSAA member. The amount of sand installed in a bun - ker — not just the type of sand — should be considered, Farren says. "Usually people put too much sand in them to begin with. Four inches is a good number. Most specs call for 4 to 6 inches. If I were to build one, I'd start at 4 inches. It's better to have not enough sand as opposed to having too much." A colorful choice Color is another factor to consider when selecting bunker sand. "It's important because it's one of the most visible aspects of the golf course. Everything else is green," Bel Jan says. "The bunkers will be some shade of white, cream, tan, beige, or, in the case of Old Works Golf Course, they could be black." tion. At Old Works, it's indicative of the his- tory of the place. At Augusta National, the bright white sand is so much of a signature that both Bel Jan and Farren alluded to some - thing called the "Augusta National syndrome" when it comes to white sand. After watching the Masters on television, club members will often request the same sand at their course, Bel Jan says. "They think, 'If it's good enough for Au - gusta, why isn't it good enough for me?' That may be the only Augusta-type thing they can afford. It inspires people to want to have the same appearance at their club, whether it's right for them or not. Most people like the re - ally white sand, but in some places, it's not as good as having something with a softer edge to it. In Florida, you get into very white sand with very intense sun, and it's blinding." Farren agrees. "The beauty of Augusta National is the sharp edges of the bunkers, the formality of it, but that's also the beauty of No. 2, the native area. There's no specific formula for success," he says. Still, Bel Jan says, "If the membership likes the white sand, then that's fine. The color is just a matter of preference." So, if color is the most subjective and the least important contributor to playability and ease of maintenance, Bel Jan suggests letting members decide the color. "If the superintendent can find the sand that has good playability quality and good drainage quality, those should be the things that he selects, and then let the membership, the governors, pick the color. If you have three sands that are relatively equal, in three slightly different colors, let them make that choice. It's safer," she says. Stacie Zinn Roberts is the president of What's Your Avo- cado?, a writing and marketing firm based in Mount Ver- non, Wash., and a frequent GCM contributor. Yes, black. Built on the site of a former copper smelt - ing plant, the Jack Nicklaus-designed course uses black slag in the bunkers. The slag was the byproduct of the copper smelting process at the plant that operated on the site from the 1800s to the middle of last century. "It's angular, not spherical like regular sand. If you grabbed it, it has the feel and the consistency of fine bunker sand, but it's heavy because of the metals still in it," says Josh Thurner, the superintendent at Old Works who has been at the Anaconda, Mont., facility for the past 16 years. The slag certainly creates a signature look to the course, but Thurner says there's more to it than that. "You can mark me down as biased, but it doesn't compact, doesn't get soft, and just because of the way it lays, unless you really drive a ball, you never have a fried egg." Though the material is not native, per se, it is locally sourced. A tremendous pile of the slag sits just outside of town. Thurner says the slag pile, if loaded onto railroad cars, would form a train that would stretch from San Francisco to New York City. Although Thurner says he'd recommend the material for golf and landscape use, anyone wanting to buy it is out of luck. A company that uses the slag to make grinding wheels now owns that sup - ply, and it intends to use most of the resource for itself. But don't worry about Old Works; they have been allocated enough of the slag for use in the course's bunkers for the next 150 years, Thurner says. The greens at Old Works are built to USGA recommendations, but Thurner says he's not concerned about getting the slag into the soil profile. "I aerify the greens every year, and it's very uncommon to see slag in the profile. It doesn't travel very far, and the bunkers are not super close to the greens," Thurner says. If there is a drawback to the black color of the bunker sand, it's the heat it generates. In summer, turf bunker edges can get a bit crispy if not hand-watered. On the bright side, though, Thurner says, "The bunker edges don't need to be edged as often because the heat stunts the growth. But it can be hard on my guys when they have to work in the bun - kers, because it is hot." Color coordinates Color should be considered not just for look, but for the appropriateness to the loca -

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