When Pine Lakes Country Club reopens this July, the Granddaddy’s greens will understandably attract a lot of attention. The new Sunday bermudagrass will be a MAJOR upgrade over the paspalum it is replacing and golfers will immediately notice how much faster and smoother the putting surfaces are.
Meanwhile, the bunker work will be more subtle for players who aren’t super familiar with the design but no less important. Why does bunker work matter?
1. The old bunkers suffered from poor drainage. Those days are over. A new state-of-the-art drainage system will allow Pine Lakes to handle a deluge and dry quickly.
2. New, premium sand will soon fill every bunker, replacing the old sand, which was harvested on the property and took on a doughy consistency when wet. To be blunt, the old sand wasn’t conducive to good golf and that’s changing.
3. Previously, many of the bunker faces were “flashed up,” a feature some think looks cool but it contributed significantly to conditioning and playability issues. The steep-faced bunkers were difficult to get out of (for both golfers and the ball) and as a result, the grade on those steep faces will be reduced and grass will replace sand in what was once the face of many bunkers.
With those factors in mind, we wanted to showcase the dramatic changes to the large greenside bunker on the par 5 fifth hole, one of the course’s most prominent.
Pre-renovation, the bunker was 30 yards wide and 20 yards deep, guarding almost the entire front of the green. What doesn’t show up on the picture is how deep the bunker was. Players couldn’t see the green from the bottom of the bunker and many left their first shot on the steep face.
(How do we know many players left balls on the face? The answer was in the footprints that covered the steepest portion of the hazard)
To further complicate matters, after players manage to get the ball out of the sand, the face was too steep to climb out of, leaving a long walk to the side or rear of the bunker to exit. That also meant a lot of sand to rake and it slows things down.
So what did Schreiner do? (see top photo)
For starters, he pulled the edge of the bunker away from the green, dramatically (see the photo taken May 10) reducing the size and grade of the bunker face.
Schreiner is also adding a large grass finger in the middle of the bunker, improving its aesthetics while allowing easy entry and exit from the sand. The area that used to be sand will now be covered with zoysia grass, which will have the added benefit of preventing some balls from rolling into the bunker.
In short, lowering the bunker face will dramatically improve playability and conditioning as water that used to pour off the vertical edge and washout the bunker will now be evenly dispersed and quickly drain after even the heaviest of downpours.
The green is also being expanded.
Post renovation, a bunker that often left balls buried in a soft sand face will offer a new, more player-friendly look. The green will be nearly perfect as well.
We can’t wait!