Recycling From The Ground Up April 5, 2019 By Larry Gilhuly, agronomist, West Region

Oahu Country Club has saved thousands of dollars by recycling sand removed from crowned teeing surfaces. The sand shown is from half of one par-3 tee.

Recycling on a golf course does not always involve traditional materials. Perhaps one of the most commonly used and expensive materials that can be recycled on greens, tees and fairways is sand. While many are not faced with exorbitant costs for topdressing sand, there are a few locations in the West where costs approach $100 per ton. In fact, there is one location where the cost approaches nearly $200 per ton for bunker sand and not too much less for a quality topdressing sand. That place is Hawaii, and there the idea of recycling expensive sand contained in putting greens, approaches and tees makes perfect sense.

During a recent tour of Oahu Country Club with longtime superintendent Curtis Kono, a very crowned tee that needed leveling was noted. More than 6-8 inches of sandy material was removed from the center of the crowned tee in two stages to keep the tee in play throughout the renovation. The large mound of excess sandy material was saved and will be used for future tee construction. This excellent reuse of quality sand will save a considerable amount of cost for the planned forward tees.

Recycling sand from putting greens and tees during aeration operations is also becoming common when no layers are found in the rootzone. The savings in annual cost by recycling this quality sand back into the aerated surface is considerable and does not compromise growing or playing conditions. When this same idea is applied to fairways, the cost savings can be very substantial.

Is recycling sand on every golf course advised? Not if layers, excessive fines or too much organic material is found in the aeration zone. However, the recycling of good sand on playing surfaces where these problems do not exist provides a great way to reduce sand costs while addressing potential issues from the ground up.


West Region Agronomists:

Patrick J. Gross, regional director –

Larry W. Gilhuly, agronomist –

Brian S. Whitlark, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

Contact the Green Section Staff

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