Rapid turnaround after flood causes Little Aston bunker washout

Rapid turnaround after flood causes Little Aston bunker washout
By Adam Lawrence

Prompt work by course manager Neil Baker and contractor Souters Sports fixed a major problem at Little Aston in Birmingham, England. Little Aston recently experienced a bunker ‘wipe-out’ when an unexpected storm deposited over five inches of rainwater in an hour.

All 93 of the course’s bunkers were left severely damaged, yet at no stage was it closed or play suspended thanks to decisive action by course manager Neil Baker and contractor Souters Sports. In barely a fortnight all of the 100-year old sand hazards were restored to their former state.

Baker said he was able to organise an effective, emergency clean-up for 30 bunkers straight away. The remainder, however, were well beyond raking and the energies and skills of his eight greenkeepers and 34 artisans. His assessment of contamination and migration caused by the massive amount of storm water left him in no doubt that outside help from an experienced contractor was essential, and quickly.

“It was obvious to me that we needed to clean 60 of the bunkers out completely, rebowl and reshape them,” said Baker. Effectively it was a straightforward replacement of the sand content, but this was a massive task. Two days after the storm, contractor Souters was appointed to help with the work, and the company was on site four days later, using two six-ton dumpers with flotation tyres and an eight-ton excavator with 360-degree bucket. The renovation was completed in 10 working days, averaging six bunkers a day.

“The standard of playing conditions here has to be retained at all times, and any problem – even a grand scale one like this – has to be resolved immediately,” said Baker. “The course was kept open throughout the work and bunkers yet to be renovated were simply taken out of play; players dropping at the nearest point of relief. Every couple of hours we were able to put the rakes back in one more restored bunker.

“The renovation work was quite a sight to see and members were impressed with how unintrusive it actually was. In many ways it was an exciting project, if one we didn’t expect or want. The whole course was quickly back to normal, as if nothing had happened.”

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