Checking Your Sand - Quality Control Begins at Home
Numerous companies sell soil sieves and scales, so be sure to
check around for the best price. In this office, we acquired our
equipment from the company listed below.
Swedesboro, NJ 08085-0099
Both 8-inch and 4-inch sieves are available. We use the 8-inch
sieves since they are more accurate and we test materials
regularly. The 4-inch sieves should be fine for golf course use
if you want to save a few dollars. You should acquire the
You also need an accurate scale or balance capable of measuring
to within 1 gram or 0.1 ounce. We use a scale called
"Lume-O-Gram" (Model D1001-BA) from Ohaus that we also
purchased from Thomas Scientific (catalog no. 1367-H32). The
digital scale doubles as a letter scale if you like. The cost was
$89.00. Sieves vary in cost depending on the mesh. While most of
our 8-inch sieves were about $35.00 apiece, the 270 mesh was
There are many different methods of sieving. The procedure we use
in this office is as follows. Keep in mind that your sand must be
very dry for your numbers to be accurate.
- Select a small container for the sand. We use the container
that came with our scale. You need something that will hold
about 3 cups of sand (700 to 800 grams). Place the container on
the scale and adjust it to zero.
- Put your sand in the container and record the weight.
Let's assume you have 700 grams.
- Build your nest of sieves by placing the largest screen
(2.0mm) on top and getting progressively smaller as you go
down, ending with the pan on the bottom.
- Add the sand to the top sieve and cover. Shake the nest of
sieves for five minutes.
- Make sure the container is clean. Empty the sand from the
top sieve into the container and record the weight.
- Empty the container and clean. Empty the sand from the next
sieve and record the weight. Repeat this procedure for each
sieve and the pan.
- Divide the weight retained on each screen by the total
weight (700 grams in this case). This gives you the percentage
of each fraction, as illustrated below,
||Retained on Screen
(Retained Weight/ Total Weight)
Before you accept delivery of a load of sand, take the time to
perform this simple test. It may not be practicable to test
before the delivery is made. However, be sure you have an
agreement with your supplier that you will not submit payment for
any load that does not meet your specifications.
On many of today's courses, sand is used on greens in
quantities second only to the amount of water applied. This
simple equipment and test can help protect your course's most
valuable physical asset - the greens. Although you might be
discouraged with the inconsistency of your sand supply, in this
case, what you do not know can definitely hurt you.
James F. Moore is director of Construction Education Programs of
the USGA Green Section.
To evaluate the suitability of sands used in the construction of
greens or bunkers, samples should be submitted to a physical soil
testing lab for analysis. The laboratory has the very specialized
equipment necessary to determine the amounts of silt and clay in
the sand, as well as other factors such as total porosity, water
retention, etc. However, every superintendent have a next of soil
sieves and an accurate scale to monitor the consistency of sizing
of the sand being delivered for topdresssing and topping off
bunkers. Sands can vary widely in their makeup, even from the
same source. As a rule, sand size specifications for golf course
use are much tighter than in other industries. A quick screening
of sand as it is delivered will prove well worth the initial cost
of the equipment.