3 Key Ways to Approach Bunker Renovation

Over the last decade, the number of golf courses of varying levels of quality has increased exponentially. This has led to an evolution in the game of golf itself, but also most crucially it has changed the standards of the average player.

It’s more important than ever to stand out. That’s why bunker renovation is currently a hot topic among course proprietors. Courses need to meet a level of scrutiny that in previous eras was not necessarily so high. And the most obvious place where players apply their newly developed eye for course construction is in how bunkers look, feel, and affect the pace of play.

Here are three tips on how to start evaluating a course for bunker renovation:

  • Start small by analyzing how your current sand affects play. The USGA maintains incredibly strict guidelines for bunker sand, due to the deep variance in how the ball reacts to being restored to the green if friction is too high or low. The recommended grain size is 0.25 to 1 millimeter, with angular rather than smooth surfaces on each particle. These standards keep the level of play even with top courses, and give high-end players a sense of familiarity that might otherwise put them off your course if the bunkers “feel” wrong.
  • Update aging bunkers with interceptor drains. This point is crucial for older courses looking to catch up to modern standards. Interceptor drains are omnipresent in newer courses, but the game being as storied as it is means there are many well-regarded courses that nonetheless lack this important modernized feature. Interceptor drains collect groundwater, preventing the pooling that drastically affects play under demanding weather circumstances. The most perfectly designed course won’t hold up to scrutiny if water affects the game, so overhauling aging bunkers with interceptor drains is more crucial than ever.
  • Consult the original plans and match with the current state of the bunker. Golf courses are designed to provide a unique, stable experience. The necessary effects of erosion often lead to the original intent of a course being changed, as bunkers warp, expand, or contract. While this may seem abstract, losing the designed intent of a course is something players notice on a subconscious level; they don’t know exactly why the course feels off compared to others, but they know. Consider restoring bunkers to either their original state, or a new altered concept that improves play even more.

These tips are just the beginning for bunker renovation. Want to find out more about how simple, cost-efficient adjustments and maintenance practices can drastically improve member enjoyment on your golf course? Don’t hesitate to contact us today.