From bottles to bunkers
Putting recycled glass through its paces
The top names in golf will be striving for their best performance this week, but next month the St Andrews Links courses will be the location for a very different set of trials.
The prestigious Open Championship course will be working with WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme) to test a novel use for recycled glass which literally turns bottles into bunker sand.
Processed sand, the product on test, is made from recycled green glass and it will be used in practice bunkers as part of a three month trial, during which players will be encouraged to provide feedback. If successful, the trials could be extended in the future to one of the club's courses to assess its use in 'real play' situations.
The processed sand is also being trialled as a path material. Being a 'links' course, sand is used for many of the paths at St Andrews and performance benefits including better drainage mean that the processed sand is likely to provide firmer underfoot conditions.
"We are delighted to be working with WRAP on these trials to assess the performance of processed sand," says Gordon Moir, Links Superintendent for the St Andrews Links Trust. "St Andrews is committed to protecting and enhancing the environment and using recycled materials clearly offers us the opportunity to reduce our environmental impact."
The St Andrews trials are part of a much bigger programme of trials being carried out across Scotland, involving several Scottish Golf Environment Group courses. One of the highlights of this wider initiative will be at Elmwood Golf Course, the premier training centre for green keeping and golf course management, which will be home to the first 'for play' greens and tees to be constructed with processed sand used in the root zone mix.
The trials are a key element in WRAP's work to develop high performance, high value markets for recycled glass. Research conducted over the past two years for WRAP by the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI), has shown that processed sand passes the necessary 'fitness for use' criteria required for its use in golf course construction and maintenance - and can offer a number of benefits. In bunkers, for example, it can outperform conventional sand by providing firmer underfoot conditions, less plugging of the ball on impact and ability to rest at a slightly steeper angle, due to its natural angularity. It is also capable of conforming to USGA (United States Golf Association) specifications for root zone construction.
"The interest shown in processed sand by St Andrews and other prestigious courses is very encouraging. It shows that the industry is proactively responding to golfers' increasing awareness of environmental considerations," says Bronnie Allen, WRAP's Materials Development Manager (Glass).
Steve Isaac, Assistant Director of Golf Course Management at the R&A, has also welcomed the trials.
"The R&A Golf Course Committee recognises waste management as a major issue for golf facilities and the prospect of being able to use products made out of recycled materials is to be encouraged, provided they give acceptable performance and prove cost effective."
Photo: PGA European Seniors Tour golfer Kenny Stevenson playing from a processed sand bunker at the De Vere Carden Park Golf Course.