Golf course architect Michael Benkusky has completed a bunker renovation project at Bloomington Country Club in Illinois.
“The goal of this project was to update the course for improved playability and conditioning,” said Benkusky. “The last time the club completed a bunker project was in 2004, so the timing was right for these updates.”
The overall bunker footprint has been reduced from 51,000 square foot to 45,000 square foot.
“We eliminated bunkers that we felt did not contribute to the strategy of the golf course,” Benkusky explained. “In many of these places, the bunkers were replaced with fairway or, if around the green, chipping areas. In the case of the green surrounds, these chipping areas provided a new alternative and expanded on some areas that currently existed on many golf holes. This improves the playability for the general membership.”
Many of the largest bunkers on the course were converted into multiple smaller bunkers as part of the work.
“For instance, we took one large greenside bunker on the fifth hole and converted it to three bunkers,” Benkusky said. “This kept the existing strategy but reduced the amount of sand and improved circulation patterns around the green. This was done in multiple places, so even though we reduced the total area of sand, we kept the same amount of sand bunkers throughout the course.”
Benkusky worked closely with representatives from the club throughout the project, who informed him that the membership enjoyed the flashed up bunker sand design style that was previously in place.
“Prior to this renovation, this style challenged the club’s staff with bunker washouts,” Benkusky said. “Therefore, we selected Capillary Concrete as a bunker liner and Pro Angle sand was selected for the bunker sand. The combination of these two materials improves the playability and will reduce or eliminate bunker washouts. The new sand also provides and updated and clean look to the course.”
Work commenced this September and was completed on 8 November. Landscapes Unlimited carried out the construction element of the project.
Bloomington Country Club will host the Illinois State Amateur Championships in 2018.