Why are we renovating the bunkers?
A strategy was developed to improve the playability, functionality and aesthetics of the North Course sand bunkers, while also reducing annual bunker maintenance costs.
Former design had high profile bunker faces that are susceptible to sand displacement from wash outs and wind erosion. Initially, the issues with bunkers were sand quality and inconsistent depth. Upon further review, it was determined that improved design and infrastructure enhancement was needed to remedy the perpetual battle of sand contamination and movement.
Proposed changes include reducing the number of bunkers (and overall square footage), strategically placing new bunkers and evaluating the approach to many of the holes. The following conditions were considered while evaluating the playability:
- Bunker locations – With technological advances in golf equipment, some bunkers lost the intent of the original design. Obsolete bunkers will either be removed or strategically relocated, with consideration given to golfers of all skill levels.
- Unfair lies – Steeped face bunkers produce unfair lies, particularly with fairway bunkers. Playability is improved with a lower profile, flat bottom bunker.
- Consistent sand depth – Frequent wash-outs from rain and wind erosion displace sand, creating inconsistent depth throughout the bunkers. Low profile bunkers will provide uniform, consistent depth through reduced exposure to runoff and wind.
- Consistent sand quality – Water and wind movement create an environment where subsoil is exposed and large amounts of silt and stones are moved resulting in sand contamination. In the areas of heavy contamination, pebbles and stones cause damage to golf equipment, create a nuisance for golfers and pose issues for rules interpretation.
- Extended periods of casual water – Silt that is displaced during a rain event, moves toward the bottom of the bunkers and migrates toward the drain tile. The siltation clogs drain outlets causing pooling for an extended period of time. Improved internal and external drainage will eliminate extended periods of causal water in the bunkers.
The reduction of bunker quantity and square footage along with a lower profile impacts the day to day maintenance through decreased preparation time. This also minimizes the time needed to prep bunkers in the occurrence of a major rain event. Short and long term financial impact of the bunker renovation includes anticipated cost reduction in labor, fuel and equipment servicing.
With the assistance of Architect Craig Schreiner, a cost analysis was performed on following bunker renovation options:
- Coring of sand and keeping the design of the bunkers intact
- Coring of sand and keeping the design of the bunkers intact and addition of drainage
- Re-evaluate bunker philosophy calling for a reduction in bunkers and redesign to greatly improve the economics, playability and maintainability.
In reviewing the different options, Craig provided a cost benefit analysis with the current population of bunkers (80) with the need for 6” of sand. It became apparent for both the short and long term economics, playability and maintainability a consideration for a complete redesign was most advantageous.
Preliminary costs of the project were verified by Precision Golf (contractor), Ag. Design (contractor) and Best Sand (vendor), who were consulted on quantities and priced independently.
Construction methodology was also verified through a site visit to Midland Country Club in Midland, Michigan. All phases of the design project were discussed with General Manager Steve Pederson and Golf Course Superintendent Eric Kloengiser. Overall they were pleased with the functionality, maintainability and playability of the bunkers.
Design philosophy changes were reviewed and discussed with members (men and women) of all handicaps ranges. Also, staff at a variety of levels, including Hospitality Operations senior leadership, was able to provide perspective and input on the plan.
The project started on September 17 and will conitnued until conditions prohibit. Completion of the project will occur in the spring.