Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bunker Symposium

Firstly thank you to those Members who came along to the Bunker Symposium last Monday. The name "symposium" was given to the meeting and I checked the dictionary to check the correct meaning which I am glad to say was correct, being:  "a formal meeting held for the discussion of a subject, during which individual speakers may make presentations".  I actually might have preferred another meaning being:  "a drinking party in ancient Greece, usually with music and philosophical conversation".  Well I don't know if there was much philosophy spoken but after talking for an hour and a half I certainly needed a drink!

I trust I was able to explain some of the issues that we face with the bunkering on the golf courses.  One of the reasons I have the Course information sessions is to be able to cover the topics in detail as what I said on Monday night would take pages to explain in writing which I doubt many people would read.  The following is a response to a member who was unable to attend the session but emailed some of his concerns to me. 

In a nutshell the River bunkers are much more functional than the West bunkers due to their ability to handle excessive rainfall.  One example I used on Monday, was last Saturday morning when we received 20mm of rain in the morning and no one played.  As soon as the rain cleared there was a full field out on both courses.  The River course bunkers would have been fully playable whereas the large majority of the west course bunkers would have been full of water.  The hard packed fairway bunkers on the West course would have virtually all been full and bordering unplayable.  This after just 20mm of rain.

I mentioned at the meeting that the number one criteria for bunkers in a climate such as ours is drainage.  The volume and regularity of rain that we receive dictates this.  Other courses on the Gold Coast / Brisbane simply just take their bunkers out of play, sometimes for weeks at a time after a serious rainfall event.  We have had numerous golfing events virtually every year on the River course that have been able to go ahead following excessive rainfall with bunkers fully in play whereas the West course bunkers would have been unplayable.

The West bunkers do have sand added to the play areas on a regular basis but when the faces are washed out by rainfall the soil and silt (read rubbish) that is washed to the floor of the bunker then mixes with the sand to give the firmer type of surface.  Unfortunately this surface is then not able to drain and the bunker fills with water. 

Anything up to 100 man hours are often required to re-instate the West bunkers following a rainfall event that washes them out.  The River course bunkers on the other hand are able to be raked as per normal immediately following the same rainfall event. 

I haven’t actually done a spread sheet /analysis on the matter but looking at labour input and the cost of sand, we would spend just as much on bunker maintenance as we do on greens maintenance on the West course alone.  I shudder to think what the ratio would be if the bunkers on both courses were as dysfunctional (from a maintenance point if view) as the West course bunkers are now.

The seemingly most unpopular bunkers are the fairway bunkers on 6 River and 7 West.  These bunkers actually have the same type and depth of sand as most of the greenside bunkers on the River course but as they have less irrigation landing in them they are always drier than the greensides.

There were a number of issues raised at the meeting on Monday night and they will be considered by the Golf Management Committee.  Grass faces and potentially removing some bunkers was canvassed for example.  The pros and cons of either of these options were also raised.  It is not an issue that we don’t care about, indeed bunkers are constantly discussed and different trials using sand and other potential solutions are assessed continually.

I realise that the explanation above doesn’t make the bunkers any more playable for you, but as I said, in our climate drainage must come first if you want to have numerous high faced large bunkers.  I trust that this very short summary of what was talked about on Monday night helps explain some of the aspects that affect bunker presentation on the courses. 

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