Kris Spence has completed the renovation of greenside bunkers on the Donald Ross-designed golf course at Sara Bay Country Club in Sarasota, Florida.
“Sara Bay is particularly interesting because Ross was closely involved with the development of the club and the associated real estate,” said Spence, who has worked with the club for several years. “We wanted to take Sara Bay back to its past. Ross was in one of his best creative moods when he designed those greens!
“However, over the years the Ross design elements had been lost at Sara Bay. The greens had become excessively domed, and balls would not stay on them – which was obviously making life difficult for the members! In 2018, we rebuilt the greens, and found they had twice as much rootzone as they needed, which meant we were able to lower them back to their original grade and expand them back to the edge of the fill pads.”
Spence has since moved onto the greenside bunkers, which were rebuilt with liner from Capillary Bunkers.
“We had ten inches of rain over the course of 30 days in June, and seven of those inches came down in two days,” said golf course superintendent Carlyle Merring. “The bunkers stood up to it really well. We don’t have a problem with them washing out. The integrity of the product is holding strong – not failing in any sort of way, and the bunkers are functioning really well. Generally, we can get our bunkers back in play in one morning after a big rain event.”
The club now has a waiting list for membership and is moving forward with another phase of renovations.
“We will return to rebuild the fairway bunkers and also add some surface contour to give the course back its lateral movement,” said Spence. “Back in 2018, we discussed bunkers with the club, and they said they were spending a lot of money pushing sand back up the faces after rains, and contamination of the sand was reducing their lifespan. The Capillary Bunkers we installed then are doing much better, and saving the club a lot of money. It was a great success, and so the club wanted to do the same again.”