Big Canoe GC in Georgia completes bunker renovation on Creek nine

  • Big Canoe
    Capillary Bunkers

    Big Canoe Golf Club in Georgia has completed a bunker renovation on its Creek nine, with work on the club’s Choctaw and Cherokee nines to follow in 2023 and 2025

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Big Canoe Golf Club in Jasper, Georgia, has completed a bunker renovation on its Creek nine, working with architect Bill Bergin, contractor Sanders Golf and Capillary Bunkers.

The club, located in the north Georgia mountains, has three nines. The Creek and Choctaw were designed by Joe Lee in 1972 while the Cherokee was added in 1992 by Rocky Roquemore, with all three later renovated by Bill Boswell.

“We get a lot of rain, over 70 inches a year, so soil erosion is a big problem for us, and bunker erosion is a major part of that,” said superintendent Lydell Mack. “Water control and drainage are very high on our priority list.”

Bergin developed a long-term master plan in 2018. “Previously, we had steep sand-faced bunkers – not massive, but still large enough to be a significant maintenance issue for us,” said Mack. Bergin’s plan called for grass-faced bunkers and would also see the introduction of new lining.

The club renovated bunkers  on its Creek nine in 2021, hiring Tennessee-based contractor Sanders Golf to handle construction. “Sanders have installed liners from Capillary Bunkers in the past and were very familiar with it, so the build went very smoothly,” said Mack. “It took eight working days to rebuild sixteen bunkers, improving external drainage and changing the bunkers to grass faces as well as installing the liner.”

Mack says the results of the bunker renovation work on the Creek nine have been excellent. “We’ve had two tropical storms come across us with four or five-inch rainfalls associated with them,” he said. “One morning, after one of those storms, I was giving a course tour of the redone nine to some members. We stood on the first, which was done, and looked at the ninth, which wasn’t. The non-upgraded bunkers were completely destroyed, totally washed out, while the new ones were not washed out at all.

“We maintain 27 holes with sixteen guys – a small crew for a large facility, so anywhere we can save labour is a big help for us. We can provide a better product for our members as a result.”

Work on the Choctaw and Cherokee nines will take place in 2023 and 2025 respectively.