One of the most important factors in improving standards at Royal Cinque Ports is educating staff. There are obvious means, courses, qualifications, seminars, conferences and tournament experience however time spent at other courses picking up tips and tricks pays dividends to the progression of our own golf course. The bunkers at Royal Dornoch have always had a reputation for being some of the best examples of quality revetting and craftsmanship of any golf course on earth. The Greenstaff enjoy a good relation ship with Dornoch so we agreed to let Assistant Greenkeeper Dan Fisher spend a week work helping out at the world famous links. Here is a short report from Dan on his learnings for the week:
A report by Dan Fisher
On 19th January I was sent out to Royal Dornoch Golf Club to learn some bunker building techniques from some of the best bunker builders in the industry, in the hope we could adopt some of these ideas on to our own bunkers. I arrived late on the Sunday evening so started work 7am Monday morning.
I was put with 2 of the team to learn from for the week. We started on 15th greenside right bunker. The first step was to move sand into the middle of the bunker to use for backfill later, then dug away one row of turf round the edge of the bunker and then started to dig out the old revets.
Once the bunker has been dug out and the base is all level then we start rebuilding the bunker. This is when the first row goes in and when it is most important to take your time to make sure you’re absolutely happy with this as this row will reflect the whole bunker. When putting the turf down you should make sure that the turf is pushed right up to the last one to make the bunker as tight as possible. By putting 3 slits in the back of each turf (using a spade) makes it easier to move and manoeuvre. Another good tip was running your hand along the turf to make joins between the turf flush. Once you are happy you would then go ahead and backfill behind the turf to pack it in. When treading if you keep one foot on the turf it will stop any turf moving forward. Next is for the second row, you want to lay the next row like brickwork so find the join of the bottom turf and lay the centre of the next turf on this. We use a rule of 2 finger spacing in between the rows so that each row goes up the at the same angle.
You would then repeat this process until you are happy to start tapering. At Dornoch they make 4 rows the maximum and then bowl the sand up to the second row as then there isn’t such a step on the walk in. After each row we check using the rake to make sure each row is touching.
When its time to put the tapers on we were using a bit of turf to see how the bunker rolls in in that area. If there was a little gap on the edge of the bunker, this is where the next taper would go. When it would start going up steep we would check the distance between tapers using our hand spacings so that they would still go up a similar amount meaning that it would flow.
Once we were at the top we would then shave off the tapers from the end which made the whole bunker just flow much better.
Now the bunker is built you would strip another row of turf using the turf cutter, build up levels with soil so you are happy and then relay turf. When relaying turf it is good to work from the bottom of the bunker uphill as to stop turf slipping down.
Although the process between our bunkers and Dornoch’s bunkers is pretty much the same, it was definitely a worth while experience and I took a lot away from it. These are the main tips that I learnt;
- A lot can be said for having nice strong turf when building bunkers
- Not putting joins of the turf in the same place
- Making joints perfectly flush
- Sharpen edging irons every day is a big one as it makes it easier to make tapers and edge in
- Shaving off tapers when the bunker is built to make it flow.