Bunker Renovation, at Bernardo Heights Country Club

Our friends from United GLI are back on site to continue with bunker renovation. We will be finishing all greenside and fairway bunkers throughout the course, a total of 28 bunkers remaining from our previous renovations. So far, 11 of the 28 bunkers are fully completed with new edges, sand, and most importantly, drainage.
Bunkers need sand replaced every 5-7 years because of contamination. Soil from trimming edges, dust from winds, and washouts from rain can bring silt and clay into the sand. Eventually the bunker will turn into concrete. Adding a few inches of sand every year is not a solution to this problem. The common saying, “there is no sand in the bunkers” is not correct. There is way too much sand in these bunkers and it is all old, contaminated, and unplayable.

The most important component of a bunker, and maybe an entire golf course, is proper drainage. When water does not leave the bunker and forms a lake, all the silt rises to the top and contaminates the sand. This is the beginning of the end for good, playable bunkers. Covering the contaminated sand with fresh, expensive sand will only result in deeper, useless sand.

So, it should be no surprise that the #1 goal of this renovation is to install proper drainage in all the bunkers. We are checking and double-checking all drain outlets to make sure they have proper fall and are not clogged or damaged. Yesterday, the BHCC staff installed a new stretch of outlet drainage from the fairway bunker on #2, across the fairway to an existing drain. The previous outlet fell into a gravel bed which did not allow for effective drainage. Other drainage problems we have encountered include crushed pipes, tree root clogs, improper slopes, and high spots that cause water to back up. We are being very careful to get this drainage installed just right.
Another priority with this renovation is returning bunker edges closer to the original design. Of course, the original might not always make sense, so we are making some adjustments to fit our players and the bunker’s location. For instance, on the fairway bunker on the par 5, 4th hole, we eliminated a lobe of the bunker that pinned the golfer behind trees. You’re already in trouble, so why make it that much harder? Also, we are raising some floors and lowering some lips to provide a better view and a more reasonable shot. Many bunker faces, especially in the fairways, have grown much larger than originally intended. We are cutting these back and expanding the view of the course.

Finally, I’m sure you noticed the nice brown sod we are laying around the bunkers. We do not want to introduce more Rye grass that I will have to kill in a few months. The dormant bermuda sod will root down and green up in a few weeks, matching our end goal of solid bermuda coverage.

Thank you for your patience during this construction period. More improvements are on the way!!
From the blog of Jim Alwine, Superintendent at Bernardo Heights Country Club (Mar 29)

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