I have never been at a course that did not have bunkers as one of the topics of course improvements. Tactics to improve those bunkers ranged from washing the sand while running it through a screen to complete replacement of all the sand. I have used spray on bunker liners, inherited a few variations of synthetic cloth liners and had just compacted soil under bunkers sand, and in each case the only way to get the bunkers to the liking of the player came in the form of a lot of manual labor to clean the sand and make sure that drainage was good. And then annual sand replenishment and silt removal kept things in good condition.
|Standing water in the bunker causing wet heavy sand|
The bunkers here at La Rinconada have an impermeable plastic liner under them and the only place for water to exit is through a drop inlet that sometimes is in the lowest point in the bunker bottom. In many cases the water does not leave the bunker because the bottom does not have enough fall to carry the water out of the drain.
|Water out of the bunker after puncturing liner|
I found standing water under the sand in the fairway bunker on the right of the 14th hole. I followed the water to the deepest point and found no drain. So I made one with a pick. Within a matter of seconds the bunker drained. I will be doing more of these around the course where we find standing water under the sand. Although this will not make the bunkers great, it will go a long way to improving the playability.
|The practice buker drainage holding water|
One bunker that has been extremely difficult to keep in good condition is the practice bunker. After exposing the drainage it is apparent in the picture why this sand was wet and heavy. It was constantly wet and the liner was retaining the water in the bunker rather than it draining. New sand has been ordered. Additional rock and pipe will be installed, and the plastic liner removed in the bottom, and this bunker will improve tremendously.