A bunker renovation project at Clinton Country Club in Connecticut, US, is progressing well.
Under the guidance of golf course architect A. John Harvey, work on the course’s front nine was completed in spring 2017. Work on the bunkers on the back nine is currently taking place, and is set to be completed later this year.
GCA spoke with Harvey to find out more about his work at Clinton CC, which was established in 1895, and how the new bunkers are being constructed.
“I started consulting with the club in 2004, and over the next few years redesigned the fairway bunker complexes on the sixteenth hole and reshaped the range field to include several target greens, with bunkers fortifying the green complexes,” Harvey explained. “In 2006, and because of the success of these sample course renovation projects, Clinton CC decided to have us prepare a masterplan for proposed improvements to the course. This encompassed graphic and narrative descriptions of proposed changes to green surfaces, chipping areas, fairway contouring, tee complexes, fairway and greenside bunker complexes, drainage, cart paths and tree management. In the few years following the preparation of the master plan, several tee complexes were expanded, leveled and rebuilt with a few forward tees added.”
At this time, Harvey was working with The RBA Group. He formed his own firm in 2011 – AJH Golf – and the club decided to retain his services to renovate the eleventh green complex in accordance with the masterplan he created. However, the decision was taken at this time to not install bunker liners.
“I recall that the reason liners weren’t installed at that time was the concern with freeze-thaw cycles, with the staples heaving out of the bunker floors, cost of installation and bunker rake machines snagging and damaging the fabric,” said Harvey. “In a few short years, sand contamination from subsoil and drainage gravel ended up being a good example of why liners were needed moving forward.”
To alleviate these problems, the decision was taken to install Capillary Concrete as part of the current project, which commenced in autumn 2016.
“Column testing and bridging of the bunker sand, drainage gravel and liner material was completed in advance of the renovation project, with Ted Fist and Rusty McLendon of Capillary Concrete assisting Clinton CC’s superintendent Mike Decker and AJH Golf,” Harvey explained. “In addition to the aforementioned bunker renovation, the work on the course’s front nine also involved making the original Geoffrey Cornish double-green, which serves the sixth and eighth holes, larger. This saw the areas of green for each hole playing at 90-degree angles to each other, presenting the membership with a greater variety of pin locations for each hole set-up.”
The second phase of the bunker renovation project, which focuses on the course’s back nine, began in autumn 2017. The project’s contractor is Turco Golf.
“We have two inches of Capillary Concrete and eight inches of bunker sand toward the fall lines at the base of the bunker floor,” Harvey said. “We also feather six inches of sand along the edges of the sand hazard, as per sand testing, and undercut and clean out the floor subgrade. When designing the final top of sand, we have taken these elevations into account. Quite often, Mike Decker and I carry around a ten-inch cedar stump in his maintenance cart to stand on within the bunker floors to help us determine floor depths and finished sand grades.”
Though at present work has been ceased due to the winter weather, it is set to resume “once more reasonable temperatures arrive, favouring excavation, drainage, shaping and finish work” according to Harvey, who added: “I feel the current bunker renovation project will help create more visual drama and enhanced play strategy on the golf course.”