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Kevin Norby shares the best questions to ask when it comes to bunker liners

By |  March 19, 2024 0 Comments

Kevin Norby, ASGCA, principal/project architect for Norby Golf Course Design, says the most commonly asked question he gets is, “What is your preferred system for a good bunker liner that will last?”

Kevin Norby, ASGCA

Kevin Norby, ASGCA

The problem, he says, is there isn’t a clear answer.

“I get calls all the time, ‘Hey, I saw your post (on social media). Can you tell me about that bunker liner?’ I think they’re just the buzz right now,” Norby tells Golfdom. “I always end up telling them that every system has its pros and cons. Some of them are more expensive; some of them are easier to install. Some of them you can install yourself. At the end of the day, it’s really a function of the superintendent, the budget and how many he has on his staff.”

By asking a few questions himself, he can perhaps help narrow down the selection. He asks if the superintendent’s crew plans to hand-rake the bunker or use a motorized bunker rake. Are they considering using the Aussie style? What’s the climate like? What is the budget?

Norby says if there is any trend with bunkers right now, it’s restoring them to their original look.

“This has been going on the last 10 to 15 years. Golfers are much more in tune to the history of the course,” he says. “You’re seeing a lot of superintendents and clubs interested in sort of putting the course back to its original intended style or character.”

In many cases, this means removing a flash-sand face and replacing that area with grass. Norby likes to warn that the grass faces on bunkers are more difficult to maintain than flash sand.

“Provided that the bunker is constructed properly, it’s more labor intensive to maintain those grass faces because you have to string trim them, you have to hand mow them, and then you have to blow the clippings out,” he says. “That’s more labor intensive than dealing with flash sand.”

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About the Author: Seth Jones

Seth Jones, a 18-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association. Jones can be reached at

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