First of all, I’m back. I guess it really just took finding something bothersome for me to find the writing bug again. We have had some crazy weather extremes so far this season. From a super dry, droughty April and May to a very wet June. The wet weather tends to wreak havoc on many of the maintenance practices on the course. This is particularly true with our bunkers.
The last 2 Sunday’s we have received 1.75″ (45mm) of rain. The effect of this much rain can be seen throughout most of the golf course. The heavier soil greens (Uplands 6,8,9 and Highlands 7 &8), many of the fairways and most of the sand bunkers will have their playability directly affected. As yes, rain is the greatest contributor to green speed changes.
So what goes into the fixing the bunker mess? The easiest answer is money, labor and hard work. As a company, we took the stance a few years ago to reduce the inputs we pour into bunker maintenance. It’s a huge issue with me that we are pouring more money into hazards (its right there in the rules of golf) then we were into our greens. Yet the effort that still goes into these hazards still dwarfs many other maintenance practices that take place on the course.
As a precursor to our bunker repair regime, we DO NOT pump water out of bunkers. This is right in line with pretty much every public golf facility in our area. Many of the bunkers here do have drainage, but, it has likely been compromised (roots, collapsed etc..) over time. I would assume that once the landscape of the overall golf business improves, projects like bunker drainage may again become viable. Not crying the blues here, just writing the facts.
Last week I took the time to figure out what we spent to repair the bunkers. While most of the water filled bunkers were initially skipped, there was a lot of pushing up and moving sand back in place that took place. There was sand movement on essentially every trap (74 in total), packing the sand back into the faces and adding sand (where applicable).
We used 3 staff for 4 days pushing sand and packing bunker faces, and, 2 staff for 3 days adding sand. It was decided early in the week that all green side traps would get fresh sand as they were contaminated beyond repair (there are still some needing sand). With these 2 groups working non-stop through this process the labor and truckload of sand cost $2,590. It was also decided on Friday that the bunker in front of Highlands 5 green was so bad that we removed the old material and added all new sand. This was pushed forward after a hydraulic hose broke inside the bunker ($300 repair). This job was completed in 4 hours by 3 staff at a total cost of $355. In total we dedicated 147 man hours to bunker repair alone last week.
As you can see we need to sell a lot of green fees to cover these expenses. As a comparison to provide the current greens conditions we used only 80 hours of labor!! The greens were cut and rolled everyday and were sprayed with fertilizer once as well within this timeframe. While last weeks rain and the consequences of that rain are “the costs of doing business”. I just wanted to paint a picture of where our resources are used (or misused dependent on who you ask) during these weather events. The question we all have to ask ourselves is whether the labor is better spent on turf or hazards?