Faced with a number of bunkers, all needing renovation, the five man greenkeeping team, in conjunction with the Greens Chairman and the Pro at Doncaster Golf Club, an 18 hole, parkland course in South Yorkshire, decided to use the revetting, or turf layering technique and do the job themselves.
Led by Head Greenkeeper Kevin Kelsall, Billy Cooke (Deputy), Mark Sneap, Kevin Butterworth and Tony Simpson began rebuilding their bunkers last autumn, and now, having completed fourteen to their own high standards, are waiting until the end of the busy playing and growing season before making a start on the rest.
"With each bunker you do, you get better," says the team. "The bunkers were in a bad state of repair and, although none of us had done the job before, it was decided that we'd tackle it ourselves. Basically, you build a wall of turf, laying it upside down until you get the height and shape you want. This creates the new bunker face."
Having drawn an exact replica of the new bunker base on the ground, one metre long strips of turf are slit, across the width, every three or four inches so that the turf can be curved and fitted to shape. The first four layers of turf need to be laid completely level. After that, the layers are tapered back one inch per layer, with the back having considerably more layers than the front. Each layer of turf needs to be backfilled with soil to keep the new structure stable.
Lindum, who are supplying the club, have developed a method of harvesting the turf in strips 290mm wide instead of the usual 600mm, so that Kevin and his team are saved the time consuming task of cutting them lengthwise down the middle. "After they'd rebuilt the first bunkers they decided that they wanted a thicker turf," said Lindum's Assistant Production Manager, Roger Moore, who has been working with Kevin for the last three years. "We, again, developed our harvesting methods to provide what they wanted. Using the thick turf makes the job quicker and easier."
One of the team's most impressive achievements to date is the creation of three new bunkers from one large original, bordering the 6th green.
"We built the two side bunkers first, starting with a completely flat base and ensuring that they were at the same level," Kevin explains. "Both the left and right hand bunkers are the same depth. The middle bunker is six inches lower."
Having back filled each turf layer throughout the building process, the team finished the job by landscaping the area with Lindum's LT7 turf to match the surrounding area. It's impossible to say how long each renovation job will take because each bunker is different. "This particular bunker at the 6th took us three weeks to complete, but it depends on the size and the amount of ground work we have to do." Kevin explains. "Having renovated and rebuilt fourteen we think we've become pretty expert."
Roger Moore has nothing but praise. "They know what they want and they like it right," he says. "I'm pretty amazed."
The benefits of the revetting method
The turf creates a good, stable face for the bunker, which is less likely to erode than bare soil.
The grass on the top of the bunker does not need to be strimmed, it can be fly-mowed.
The finished bunker requires minimal maintenance - spraying the face with selective weedkiller annually should suffice.
Lindum Turf www.turf.co.uk
1. Left to right - Kevin Butterworth, Billy Cooke, Tony Simpson, Kevin Kelsall and Mark Sneap, standing in their piece de resistance, the new triple bunker bordering the 6th Green
2. Step 1. The new bunker is marked out and cut back
3. Step 2. The bunker base is levelled ready to receive the first four layers of turf
4. Step 3. The thick turf is laid, stepping back one inch every layer. The team back fill as they go
5. Step 4. The area is landscaped ready for turfing
6. Step 5. The finished bunkers ready to receive new bunker sand