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EcoBunker aids in revitalization of Skylark Golf & Country Club

By |  November 12, 2021 0 Comments

Seven years ago, Skylark Golf & County Club in Hampshire in the south of England, was in poor shape.

“The course was opened in the late 1990s, and it was known at Quinn Dell,” said course manager Simon Bell-Tye. “And when I got here in 2014, it had been neglected and run down for most of that time. It was a field with holes in it.”

Following the arrival of a new course manager and after being acquired by local company JDI (Just Develop It) in late 2013, the renamed Skylark hasn’t looked back.

“My boss at the time, Dan Richards, an ex-golf pro, had a real vision for the place, starting with making the course more presentable and playable,” said Bell-Tye. “But it was a big job. There was a weed called toad rush in the greens. I didn’t know what it was – I’d never come across it before – and the bunkers were just scoops in the ground.”

Now, though, Skylark’s bunkers are among its best-regarded features, thanks to the installation of synthetic edging system EcoBunker over several years.

The installation of synthetic edging system EcoBunker has greatly improved the shape of bunkers at Skylark. (Photo: Simon Bell-Tye)

The installation of synthetic edging system EcoBunker has greatly improved the shape of bunkers at Skylark. (Photo: Simon Bell-Tye)

“I’m a member at Royal Winchester and I saw them doing the EcoBunkers there,” said Bell-Tye. “I mentioned this to Dan and he said ‘Good idea, get them in’. Rich Allen came and explained their process, and we took him and their construction manager Llewelyn Matthews to the eleventh hole, which had our very worst bunkers. Then Llew spent a week showing us how to build the EcoBunkers, and we haven’t looked back since.”

To reduce the bunker maintenance still further, EcoBunker CEO Richard Allen devised a new add-on, named EcoEdge – which sees top quality artificial grass, backed with rubber, used as a rim for the bunkers. Compared to the usual EcoBunker Advanced methodology, where natural grass is planted on top of the synthetic edge, this obviously reduces the maintenance requirement for bunker edging still further.

EcoBunker CEO Richard Allen developed a strategy named the EcoEdge, which sees top quality artificial grass, backed with rubber, used as a rim for the bunkers.(Photo: Simon Bell-Tye)

EcoBunker CEO Richard Allen developed a strategy named the EcoEdge, which sees top quality artificial grass, backed with rubber, used as a rim for the bunkers.(Photo: Simon Bell-Tye)

“Skylark was the first club in the world to use the EcoEdge system,” said Allen. “Although since, a number of other clubs have invested in it.”

The reaction to the EcoBunkers was immediate. “Members loved them, so I got a budget to do a number of bunkers each year,” said Bell-Tye. “Ultimately, we have added fourteen extra bunkers to the golf course. We build them all in house – last winter I used forty pallets of material in four bunkers – and they look wonderful.”

Bell-Tye said that members at Skylark had an immediate positive reaction to the upgraded bunkers. (Photo: Simon Bell-Tye)

Bell-Tye said that members at Skylark had an immediate positive reaction to the upgraded bunkers. (Photo: Simon Bell-Tye)

Skylark’s success has expanded following the renovations to the course.

“When I joined we had 200-250 golf members,” said Bell-Tye. “Now we’re up to 750, and we are full, with a joining fee.”

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