Kevin Norby has recently completed a bunker renovation project at The Meadows Golf Club in Ashbury, Iowa.
“The city was looking to reduce the time required to maintain their bunkers after a rainstorm,” said Norby. “With an average annual rainfall of 36 inches, the maintenance staff were spending a lot of time and resources pulling sand back up on faces and pumping bunkers out. They also wanted to improve pace of play as many bunkers no longer came into play for the low handicap golfer but instead penalised the shorter hitter and high handicap golfer.”
Those poorly positioned bunkers were eliminated or relocated, while some new ones were added to enhance the course strategy. Norby also reduced the size of existing bunkers to make the course more playable and easier to maintain. In total, the overall bunker square footage was reduced by nearly 50 per cent.
“The elimination of the poorly positioned bunkers that seemed to only affect the higher handicap player has dramatically improved our pace of play,” said general manager Jeremy Hawkins. “We experienced an average of a 45-minute decrease in pace of play for 18 holes last season – all while the course was full of players due to the increase in play from Covid-19.
“The labour required to maintain our bunkers has also been greatly reduced, which allows our crew to focus on areas that they normally wouldn’t have had time to give their full attention to – especially after rain events.”
Hawkins adds that the club’s golf-related revenues for 2020 are up nine percent year in comparison to 2019. “We were doing pretty well in 2019,” he said. “But we had 4,739 more rounds in 2020, roughly a 20 percent increase. That’s not too bad considering we were closed in parts of March and April, and at one point in April and May were mandated to 15-minute tee time intervals, and people could only play with members of their own household.”