Bunkers are often the scourge of amateur and professional golfers alike. Whilst their presence on the golf course is intended to both challenge and chastise, sometimes a wayward ball can be overly constrained if the bunker in question suffers from poor drainage.
Despite featuring on probably every single golf course across the country, from those which host major championships to your local pay-and-play, the issue of finding a robust and long-lasting solution to bunker drainage has proved troublesome.
Many bunker drainage solutions have been tried and tested – ranging from subsoil or inverted turf bases, to spray-on, rubber crumb, or material linings.
Some ‘spray-on’ options have the tendency to break-up after a number of years and limit the course manager’s installation timeframe. Other methods, such as those which simply involve sand and subsoil can lead to stones appearing near the surface and present a damage risk to both individuals and equipment.
Ultimately, no real long-term method for effective drainage has been discovered which also limits the risk of club damage, providing the recommended sand depth is maintained, and aesthetically fits in with the overall course design.
Tarmac’s Topsport has developed a unique engineered solution to bunker drainage and presentation which prevents the appearance of puddles and unnecessary golf ball plugging.
Following a thorough site survey and a CBR test of the ground, a base layer of Topsport’s premixed Bunker Lining is laid straight onto the bunker’s subsoil by an approved installer, and then topped up with 100mm of sand. The result is a free draining bunker with excellent sand retention that optimises the playing performance of the bunker regardless of weather conditions.
Woodcote Park Golf Club near Croydon commissioned an initial five hole trial that demonstrated that Topsport Bunker Lining was able to offer a comprehensive drainage solution. As a result of the successful trial the remaining 13 holes were commissioned and are now complete.
Despite its simple structure, Topsport’s bunker lining has a host of advantages over alternative methods. Chiefly, as it avoids the use of chemicals it can be laid in all weather conditions, meaning work can be undertaken during the winter months when courses may be closed or used less frequently.
It also removes the need for a material lining, which can sometimes detract from the aesthetics of the course if they begin to appear around a bunker’s edge. If the correct depths of Topsport’s bunker lining and bunker sand are adhered to, and provided appropriate drainage is in place to ensure water is moved away from the bunker location, then it will drain effectively, eradicating both puddles and the risk of a ball plugging.
Providing all prep work and testing is complete, a 100m² bunker can be lined and topped up with sand in just two hours, whatever the weather, an added bonus when you consider that some ‘spray-on’ linings can only be installed in fair weather conditions.
What’s more, due to the improved drainage and subsequent reduction in standing water, a bunker’s sand retention rate is much higher, even on steeper faces, as the sand is far less likely to clump together. It will also mean less replacement sand is needed over the course of the year, further contributing to reduced maintenance costs.
Peter Cullen, Technical Sales Manager at Tarmac’s Topsport Solutions, comments: “UK golfers are often faced with the prospect of taking to the course either during or just after a spell of wet weather. This can obviously impact a course’s playing conditions, especially when it comes to bunkers.
“To combat this we developed the Topsport Bunker Lining to offer an all-round cost-effective option for golf course managers looking to put an end to bunker drainage issues once and for all.
“Compared to traditional methods of bunker lining, which have proved over time to lead to a number of different issues – particularly regarding drainage, our product is straightforward to install and provides course managers with a new level of reliability and flexibility which can ultimately improve the overall playing quality of a golf course.”
Gordon Bell, Golf Course Manager at Woodcote golf club in Coulsden, Surrey, adds: “Unlike many sports, golf is something which can be just as challenging to play by yourself as it is with others as through the course, you’ve always got an opponent.
“Bunkers form an integral part of this challenge – yet if your ball lands in one or two then your round could be dramatically altered depending on if you’re playing on a bone dry day in June or a soaking wet one in March, as poor drainage inevitably makes playing off sand much more difficult.
“We wanted to find a way of offering our members a more consistent bunker condition all year round, but without investing in a solution that would need to be revisited every few years. The beauty of the solution developed by Topsport is that it is both natural and simple. There’s no need to spray a lining or use a material which can look visually unappealing; the porous asphalt lining can be quickly laid and covered with sand and any water will then naturally find its way through.
“We’ve now rolled it out across 18 holes at Woodcote and the feedback from members has been fantastic. The playability of the course is now much more consistent throughout out the year and whilst finding a ball in a bunker is never a nice surprise, at least our members will have as good a chance as any of getting their round back on track.”
Download the Woodcote Golf Club Bunker Lining case study.
For more information on Tarmac Building Products’ Topsport bunker lining, please call 0345 600 7704 or email email@example.com.