Adding New Sand To Existing Bunkers
By Brian Whitlark, agronomist, Southwest RegionMarch 5, 2014
|The seven-year-old sand in these bunkers has
become shallow, with only 2-3 inches on the bunker floor. Adding new sand may
be a temporary solution, but heading down this road is precarious and should
not be taken lightly.|
While visiting several golf facilities during
the previous two weeks, a question was asked about adding new sand to existing
bunkers. In both cases, the bunkers contained seven-year-old sand that is no
longer available. As expected, the sand is thin in the bunkers and golfers feel
the bunkers are too firm. For your reference, the desired depth for bunker sand
is approximately 4-6 inches on the base of the bunker, and 2-3 inches on the
The question is can new sand be added
that is compatible in color and physical characteristics to the existing sand?
The answer is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no. How should a
course proceed if they find themselves in a similar scenario?
First, collect sand samples from several
of the existing bunkers. The sand samples should be sent to an accredited
soil physical testing laboratory
for analysis. If the physical characteristics of the
existing sand are within the generally accepted guidelines for bunker sands,
then proceed to the next paragraph. However, if the existing bunker sand has
become contaminated and no longer
conforms to the guidelines for bunker sands, the existing sand will likely need to be replaced with new sand that will
perform up to expectations.
Assuming the existing sand has retained
desirable physical characteristics, submit 2-3 samples of new sands (that are
locally available and come from a reliable source) to an accredited soil
physical testing laboratory for analysis. Discuss the project with a
representative from the soil physical testing laboratory and have them mix the
new sand with the existing material in various ratios (for example, 1:1, 1:2
and 2:1). Choose a mixture that will yield sand that exhibits good physical
characteristics and desired color (the USGA has a bunker sand selection guide: How to Select
the Best Sand for Bunkers). For a more technical guide to
selecting bunker sands, click on the following article: (Physical Analysis of
Sands for Golf Course Bunker Use).
Once the new sand arrives, the existing
sand should be piled into the center of a bunker and thoroughly mixed with the
new sand using a shovel, backhoe or skid steer. Once mixed, distribute the sand
over the entire bunker. If the new sand is placed on top of the existing sand
without mixing, a layer will likely develop that may negatively impact
cosmetics and playability.
Please don’t hesitate to contact the
southwest regional Green Section office if you have any further questions on
this procedure or any other golf course management concern.
Source: Brian Whitlark (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service
Contact the Green Section Staff