Tripp Davis restores Emmet bunker style at Powelton

Tripp Davis restores Emmet bunker style at Powelton
Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Tripp Davis has completed a bunker restoration project at the Devereux Emmet-designed Powelton Club in Balmville, New York.

Davis was hired to rebuild the bunkers in Emmet’s slender style with steep grass faces and strategic positioning, while reducing the overall square footage of bunkers to make them more manageable.

The project began in September 2018, with Frank O’Dowd overseeing construction.

“The bunkers at Powelton had three main issues,” said Davis. “Strategically, most of them needed to be tweaked for the modern game. This meant pushing fairway bunkers down the fairway a little – on holes where we had no room to add length – and we brought them a little more into play as well.

“The greenside bunkers were expanded or restored in places to better protect angles into greens. We expanded fairways to enhance the element of the course’s width. One of our strengths is understanding the strategic side of design, which is one of my primary focuses – not to make a course more challenging, but more interesting.

“The bunkers had stylistically lost their Emmet identity in a previous renovation effort,” continued Davis. “They became more like bowls, instead of being flat-bottomed; they developed higher sand lines, instead of being grass-faced bunkers; and some just got too rounded, instead of being more rectangular.

“Functionally, the sand in the bunkers was very coarse and played soft, with a lot of little rocks coming up from the soil below. We brought in the best bunker sand in the area and we used a fabric to line the bunkers, so we eliminated the small rocks. The bunkers will now be a lot easier to maintain in a way that plays much better.”

Construction was largely complete by early May, with the finishing touches made in June.

This article first appeared in the July 2019 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.