Firm The Sand On Bunker Faces By Doing Less

By Brian Whitlark, agronomist, Southwest Region
April 29, 2014

Using squeegee rollers, the rounded backside of bunker rakes or even a shop broom to “smooth” the sand on the bunker faces can provide firmer conditions that discourage the dreaded “fried-egg” ball lies.

During recent Course Consultation Service (CCS) visits in the Southwest region, interested green committee members have asked how to firm bunker faces to discourage buried golf balls. The solution may be complicated and expensive, such as the need to rebuild the bunker subgrade and liner, the need to install more angular sand or even installing sprinklers to avoid dry conditions on bunker faces. However, there are simpler solutions that may yield desired results and even reduce labor costs required to prepare bunkers for play.

One of the keys to firm sand on bunker faces is to limit the depth to only 1 to 2 inches of sand on bunker faces and 4 to 6 inches on bunker floors. Secondly, rather than raking bunkers daily before play, rake only two to four times per week. With less raking the sand will be firmer. Additionally, some have found that “smoothing” the sand on bunker faces yields firmer conditions. To “smooth” the sand on the bunker face, utilize the rounded side of the bunker rake, a shop broom or a squeegee-roller rather than the teeth on a bunker rake. Over time, such a tactic will firm the sand on bunker faces and encourage incoming golf shots to bounce off the slopes and roll to the bunker floor. A few examples of golf facilities employing this technique are included below:

·         Claremont Country Club Turf Department - November, 2011

·         Golf Course Industry - Travels with Terry

·         The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay - November, 2011 

Raking less often or “smoothing” the sand on the slope of bunker faces are easy ways to yield firmer conditions and discourage buried golf balls.

Source: Brian Whitlark (

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