Friday, July 22, 2011

On Course Bunkers Complete

In April of 2008 the Granite Bay Golf Club Maintenance Department embarked on a bunker renovation project which we can now say is complete, at least for the on course bunkers. The project was  originally slated for completion in 2010 however capitol funding was delayed in 2009 which effected the projects conclusion. We are ecstatic to have this project behind us as it has been taxing at times to keep up with normal golf course maintenance tasks along with keeping up with our construction goals. We still have many plans to continue moving the property forward from  the pruning and  brush clearing  work we have already started to installing cart path curbing, tee re-surfacing and continued irrigation system enhancements. However the job of renovating 67 bunkers with over 2 acres of surface area is larger in scope then any other golf course project on the horizon and I am sure everyone is glad that we are finished. 

The last completed fairway bunker on #9.

The "old" Granite Bay Bunkers were only 14 years old when we started the renovation process but had aged more rapidly then most due to some bad luck early in the life of the club. Granite Bay opened all 18 holes for play in December of 1994 which was directly proceeded by the 1995 La Nina storms which produced rainfall events of up to 5" in 24 hours. These storms washed the sand off the faces of the brand new bunkers and proceeded to erode the decomposed granite (DG) faces. This action moved native soil material onto the washed out sand in the bottom of the bunker mixing it with the sand and contaminating it. Maintenance crews attempted to remove the obvious top layer of emulsified DG from the bunker sand after the storms subsided but the weather patterns were persistent in contaminating the sand further after every event. Every subsequent winter storm that has washed out the bunkers since 1994  added to this contamination, producing bunker sand with very low percolation rates and a drainage system that was rendered ineffective from silt and fine sand and clay.

Winter storm November 2007 below #14 green


Familiar sight in the winter prior to renovation. #15 greenside
bunker November 2007.
 Our renovation goals were to prevent this type of contamination from happening again.  We settled on a somewhat unorthodox drainage system that we believed would rapidly move water out of the bunker during a rain or deep irrigation event. The thought was the quicker we could get the water out of the bunker the less chance for exposure of the native soil leading to washouts and contamination because the sand above would not load up with water and stay put. We did spray a liner to prevent erosion in the inevitable event of some washout but our overriding concept to prevent native soil contamination of the sand was to provide an avenue to get the water out of the bunker quickly. We also felt that if we could prevent this type of contamination that this drainage system would remain functional for a much longer period of time then a traditional 4" perforated drainage pipe. There are bunkers in the eastern part of the country with much higher average rainfall amounts then ours, with the same type of drainage system we used here at Granite Bay that 10 years later drain the same as they did when first installed. That's what we were and are looking for at Granite Bay and what I believe could set our bunkers apart in the future.

Recent view of the drainage system in the fairway bunker
on #9

Drainage chambers used in our drainage system.
Notice the amount of light or the size of the drainage slits.
When coupled together and wrapped in a geotextile fabric
and surrounded by sand, this voluminous subsurface system
almost sucks the water out of the trap.

Traditional 4" drain pipe. Historically slows down
and becomes almost ineffective over time.

We realize that just because we have completed renovation and have replaced the drainage system and sand that our work is not done with these bunkers. Bunkers in general require allot of maintenance, particularly for a part of the course that is deemed a hazard. The almost constant moving of sand from the trap to the surrounding turf areas from players and maintenance equipment causes a structural change to these areas that requires diligent attention. Hand or mechanical raking, monitoring proper sand depths on faces versus bases, trimming, sod replacement, irrigation enhancements are a few of the necessary tasks to maintain the  original vision of our bunkers and facilitate a fair test of golf. We already know just from last winters storms that with the new sand, drainage system and a bunker liner in place these traps don't hold water nor contaminate the new sand. This should result in our ability  to devote the same amount of time to these bunkers as in years past yet achieve better results.  

No Rest For The Weary
Practice Area Renovation Project Begins Monday July 25th

We plan to start working on the short game area  starting next week. The end result is something I know many of you have been looking forward to for quite some time. My goal is to chronicle weekly or at least biweekly progress of this project via this course update. The push for starting and completing this project right now is twofold. First to provide durability I think the area should  have at least a contingent of warm season turf in the way of hybrid bermuda and we are running out of time to get it propagated for this season. Secondly many of the member's who use the area are looking forward to a functional area to practice.

Creating this functional area is a bit of a challenge as we are limited by it's overall size. That being said the scope of work includes removal of the scraggly oak below the green and pruning two of the trees at the back of the area hopefully achieving at least a little expansion to the size of the  area. Next we want to fill the entire lower area to create  a more usable grade when chipping to the green. Additionally we plan to slightly expand the size of the green, remove the left hand bunker and make two bunkers out of the one bunker on the right. The project is the brainchild of our own Craig Johns who will be intricately involved in the "ongoing" design process.

Current view from below the short game area.
Scrub Oak to be removed and fill to be brought in
to soften / flatten the lies in front of the green.

The following is an outline of construction goals and timing.

Week 1.       7/25 - 7/29  Tree trimming and removal. Identification and protection of irrigation heads.  Removal  of sod and transferring usable sod to #6 & #8 tees. Hauling of additional sand as fill. Start shaping of approach and surrounds.

Week 2-4.     8/1 - 8/19  Continued shaping of the area, expansion of the green, expansion of the irrigation system, re-shaping of the left hand bunker(s). (3 weeks)

Week 5.         8/22 - 8/26  New sod around green and new bunkers. Install hybrid bermuda sprigs.

Week 6-9.      8/29 - 9/23  Grow in the warm season hybrid bermuda sprigs. (4 to 5 weeks)

Week 10.        9/26 - 9/30  Overseed with bluegrass & ryegrass.

Week 11-12.  10/3 - 10/14  Grow in  cool season bluegrass & ryegrass. (3 to 4 weeks)

Week 13.        10/10    Tentative Re-open

Rough concept of what we want to do to the short game area

I do not anticipate being able to re-open the area sooner then early October, if anything I could seeing us re-opening later then the October 10th goal. We'll just have to see how it goes.

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