Loch Lomond Golf Club in Scotland is nearing completion of a four-year renovation project to transform the course’s drainage.
Costing £7.5 million, the project has seen a complete rebuild of the drainage infrastructure including extensive sandcapping. The irrigation system has also been renewed and bunkers have been reconstructed with the Capillary Bunkers lining system.
“We have a lot of bunkers – and a lot of rain,” said David Cole, the club’s director of golf course and estates. “We average around 2,000 millimetres of rain a year, and our bunker design has some steep faces in places. As a result, we have always suffered badly from washouts and contamination.
“Bunker maintenance is our second largest consumer of greenkeeping resources, second to greens – due to the design, the size, the amount, the player expectations and the environment, it takes a lot of resources to prepare the bunkers internally and externally for play on a daily basis, and it was frustrating not being able to produce a consistently good product from this valuable resource due to the ageing infrastructure and the uncontrollable element of frequent rainfall.”
Work has included lining the drainage trenches with geotextile to prevent the ingress of particles into the pipes, which have also been resized to cope better with the volume of water.
Cole and his team have worked alongside contractor GolfLink Evolve since starting the project in winter 2017/18 when holes 14 and 15 were rebuilt as a trial. The project was planned to be completed over the winter of 2019/20, but the Covid-19 pandemic meant that two holes were left unfinished. Those have been completed over winter 2020/21.
Read more about the project in our report from the January 2020 issue of Golf Course Architecture.
Cole also wanted to improve the consistency of bunker presentation. “We wanted to eliminate sand contamination and washouts and ensure we give our members a quality product no matter the weather,” he said. “After reviewing and trialling the options available, we selected Capillary Concrete throughout the project to line the bunkers.
“The fact that you can install in wet weather situations is a huge plus for us as the renovation and installations took place throughout the wettest period of the year.”
Cole says he is already seeing the benefits. “We aren’t spending hours pushing sand back up bunker faces after rain. Since the liner has been installed, the sand does not slip off the face after heavy rain events and daily preparations to present a good product for our members and guests is less labour intensive than previous. This allows us to focus more time on the detail work of internal bunker maintenance, and/or redirect resources to other priority areas that been neglected prior to this undertaking. I think we may see a 40-50 per cent reduction in resources we use preparing the internals of bunkers, yet still producing a superior product.”