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Going bunkers: 4 courses with bunker success stories

Kenwood CC has updated 77,000 square feet of bunkers on its Kendale course, including this finished bunker on No. 1. (Photo: Jason Straka)

Kenwood CC has updated 77,000 square feet of bunkers on its Kendale course, including this finished bunker on No. 1. (Photo: Jason Straka)

A DIY renovation

Stuck in the middle of a bunker renovation, the Kenwood CC crew found a product they could install themselves

By Abby Hart | Golfdom Senior Editor

In September 2020, Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio, reopened its Kendale course after a yearlong renovation.

“I think I’ve called it a ‘restorvation,’” says Kenwood Director of Grounds and Golf Course Operations Kent Turner, with a laugh. Installing a new irrigation system on the club’s Kendale course was the main goal for the project. But, before the irrigation system went in, the club decided to restore Kendale to its 1930 William Diddel design, with modern infrastructure updates to the layout and a renovation of the 77,000 square feet of bunkers on the course.

In summer of 2019, Kenwood contracted Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design to design the golf course restoration, referencing historic drawings and photos from the club’s archives. Wadsworth Golf agreed to complete the restoration work, and Polylast signed on to supply the materials and subcontract labor to line Kendale’s bunkers. Then, in December 2019, with the project well underway, Polylast declared bankruptcy. The Kendale bunkers were only 40 percent complete.

The crew at Kenwood CC preparing to install Sand Guard (top), getting trained on mixing and spreading the product (middle), and a bunker ready for sand installation (bottom). (Photos: Jason Straka)

The crew at Kenwood CC preparing to install Sand Guard (top), getting trained on mixing and spreading the product (middle), and a bunker ready for sand installation (bottom). (Photos: Jason Straka)

With no more support or materials coming in and no subcontractor, Jason Straka, principal, Fry/Straka, jumped into action to find a new bunker solution for the remaining 10 holes on the Kendale course — ideally, a rubber-based product similar to Polylast.

The ensuing search led Straka and Turner to Porous Pave. “I knew John (Harvey, Porous Pave’s parks, landscape and golf industry specialist) as a colleague and knew Porous Pave from cart paths and parking lots,” Straka says. In addition to Porous Pave’s cart path product, the company had also developed Sand Guard, a flexible and permeable bunker liner product comprised of crumb rubber and rock.

After a demonstration at Kendale, Straka says Sand Guard’s drainage, flexibility in freeze/thaw cycles and ability to cut down on erosion and soil contamination are why they selected it. “And, it’s seamless — you’re putting it in and compacting it, and it becomes monolithic,” he says.

The fact that Sand Guard could be installed with a golf course’s own maintenance crew also was a big plus for Kenwood. Harvey and Connor Ouwinga, Porous Pave’s sales and design consultant, traveled to Cincinnati to train the Kenwood crew on installing Sand Guard. “They budgeted a day and a half to train us, but they actually headed back the next morning because it only took us half a day to learn how to do it well,” Turner says.

Turner assigned one of his assistant superintendents, Dave Basil, to run a crew of four to install Sand Guard. He says the installations aren’t easy work, but his team could finish bunkers for one golf hole in a single day, since mixing up a standard 200-pound batch of the materials (enough to cover 48 square feet) takes about two minutes. The bunker installation was completed from May to June of 2020.

The finished “restorvation” was a hit for both the members and the crew. “The members absolutely raved over it,” Turner says. “And, not only are we thrilled with the product because it enabled us to finish it on budget, but we’re also thrilled with the performance.

“Since the bunkers were built, we have yet to fix a washout in any of them,” Turner says. “The only regret we had was not going with (Sand Guard) from the beginning.”



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