Saturday, 24 September 2016

The Welsh Wizard!

As I sit down to write this blog I can't believe it's been four weeks already since we started the bunker project.
Don't get me wrong it's this first month of a good couple of months worth of hard work but it is exciting times but it's flying by. I am sorry I haven't had chance to blog but things have been very busy! 

So what have we been up to so far?

Well, probably the most important part so far is we have our shaper Nathan on site. They call him the Welsh wizard within the industry because what he can create with a digger is magic! 

Nathan arrived to us straight from Wentworth and from us goes onto the Buckinghamshire. Not your everyday kind of clubs! Nathan also has Nick his assistant here with him. Nick helps Nathan keep his speed up by doing all the fiddly jobs during the long construction days. 

Nathan and Nick are not the only ones making regular appearances at the club. Murray Long our consultant and former Course and Estate Manager at Sunningdale is also heavily involved in this project. 
Murray has an exceptional eye for bunker construction as proved by the rankings Sunningdale improved under his leadership and the fact he won the greenkeeper of the year and the renovated course of the year while at Coombe Hill before Sunningdale.

Nathan has worked with Murray Long our consultant before and told me he knew Murray would be testing his skills to the maximum once he arrived to get the right look of the 'Stoneham Bunker'.

Old Willie Park bunker, the look inspiring this project.

The rest of the greens development committee are also getting chance to view the works and make comments as we progress. Richard Arnold, Nick Clayton, Ian Young and Richard Bland give us a great view from the players point of view. 
Don't worry I may have done bunker projects before but I also cover the higher handicappers thoughts when we are in discussions! 

We are planning to implement most of the Creative Golf Plan that the members have seen. 
This years holes are the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 13th, 14th and 17th. Some holes will just have the bunkers renovated in similar spots, others will be moved and built from scratch. Some swails, hollows, dips and mounds we will be added in areas to create interest to shots around done if the greens they are also there to move water away from the greens surface to improve them during the winter. 

We started our project on the 14th with our intention being to work our way in towards the clubhouse as the project develops. The reason for this is we want to get the heavy work done on the wet areas of the course before they get too wet. 
We now have the main shaping, sub soil, drainage in the bunkers, type 1 base and blinder in place on 4 holes (14,17,5 and 4) with the 3rd now ready to blinder. 

Work has gone back out to the 13th hole now which was not the original plan but the green requires drainage and it makes complete sense to be doing that while the surrounds and bunker are getting drained too. So we moved this hole around in the project around the golfing calendar. After this the 1st will be our only one left to shape. This is a big project as its four bunker renovations, one new and two being made into features. 

So how are they being constructed? 

Firstly we look at the Creative Golf Plan to get the placements.

Next the areas are marked out by Murray and myself so the Shaper knows where we are putting the bunker or feature.

(These are called the strip areas, we also write down the sizes of the sand area and the turf area next to this so Nathan knows what sizes we are taking about). 

Next Murray will give Nathan a brief of the shape we want. His vision is exceptional and something I am learning a lot from as these are not your everyday bunkers that I am use to building. 

The strip area is then turf cut and the turf removed. Sometimes this shows us how little shape the old bunker has 

Old bunker left of the 4th was very flat once the turf was removed

Then the top soil and sand are removed at this time, these are mixed and mounded up next to the bunker, these are then sealed so the water runs off should it rain, leaving the soil dry. 

Note these piles/ mounds are not staying in place forever as I have been asked. The topsoil will be placed back over the subsoil once the shaping and revetting is finished. It's important we do this other wise the clay soils will be at the surface making them wet and we would have no soil structure. It also saves us having to buy loads of extra top soil in. 

Sometimes we will require some extra if the area stripped is low. Like any gardener or builder will tell you the top soil is at different depths all over due to geology. 

Once the turf and topsoil are removed Nathan starts to get a rough shape in with the subsoil 

 We then look at this rough shape and make changes to improve the look. 

Once we are happy with the shape the sand lines are added. This is where the top of the sand will be visable against the revetted edge.

The sand line is then dug out to leave a shelf. This shelf will be stoned, covered in blinder and then the revet will be added on top. Once the revet is added the sand will come up over the lower part giving us the sand line. 

Once the shelf is dug out the base is cleaned through and the drainage is added. 
The base and the drain lines are checked with laser levels throughout. 

The 80mm perforated pipe is then added and topped up with gravel. 

After the drains have been fitted to the base, type 1 is placed in the bunker and raked into place. This is then wacker plated to follow the contours and shapes. This firm base is the ready for blinder. 

Bunker blinder 

No it's not Tarmac, it's a rubber crumb base just like the stuff in the parks or on the 9th path but it's slightly different. 

• The system has proven excellent drainage qualities successfully tested at 2,400ml/hour

• It consists of environmentally approved recycled rubber granules
• The base is durable and resistant to golf club strikes
• Being rubber it is flexible and able to withstand the expansion and contraction of soils

Benefits for maintenance- 

• It reduces man hours spent on bunker maintenance with less wash outs, contamination this also creates savings on sand replacement.
• Helps consistency and playability of bunkers
• It helps to protect the drainage medium as the sands struggle to penetrate into the drains, this extends the drainage replacement programme.

Natural stone in the base of the 3rd bunkers. You can see why contamination comes easy with just sand on it.

Now that's the sales pitch done but at least you can understand why we are putting this in the bases. For example the stone contamination in the bunkers her is very high (it might be what we are called Stoneham!), this causes us a lot of problems and man hours to remove. 

The blinder is added on top of the type 1 base. 

The rubber and glue (the ratio is very important) are mixed together in s big mixer on site. This is then wheel barrowed in to place and 
It's applied using a trowel. The trowels are kept lubricated with water and fairy liquid as the glue is very strong. 

This takes at least 48 hours to cure completely and players are warned to stay off of them.

 After this we are ready to add the revetment... This will be another blog... 

Others bits 

The new surrounds on the 14th will look great. Heather mounds and run off will help keep water away from the green and add a different shot to both 14th and the 12th holes. The fountain has been moved away from the green too.

The new look right of the 5th will add interest to a flat area. Again it will help with water movement and a new challenge for those going into that area.
13th will look a bit different once completed. The lower swail and shape on the surrounds will be brilliant once complete. 

Drainage outlets from the bunkers has been started. We luckily have borrowed a newer version of trencher than the one above from Muswell Hill Golf Club as this will cause less clean up work for the team.

As with any construction work, you always find a pipe or cable that's meant to be there and irrigation repairs have been taking place. 

Even putting temporary holes into fairways is hard work due to the solid ground. 

There's a lot going on while trying to keep the course in good condition.  

Before and now.. Not after yet

All this work and we are only halfway through what can only be described as a big project!
I will keep you updated on the blog as we start our next stage and some other works. I still have so much more to say but I will save it for future blogs.
To say I m excited about the way the course is going to look in the future is an understatement and I can't wait to see the finished article out on the course this year. 
Hope this helps you understand what has been going on out there! 

Happy golfing everyone!


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