Date: Wed 17 Jan 2018

Restoring Bunkers After Hurricane Irma

By Jeff Danner, EIGCA Member

Jeff Danner

For the most part, Floridians considered themselves lucky when Hurricane Irma came barreling through Florida and up the United States East coast. The widely publicized storm, said to be wider than the State of Florida itself, had reached category 5 as it approached the Florida Keys prompting most residents of the state to batten down the hatches or leave their homes all together.

Changing its path from the East to West coast of the state, Irma brought heavy rains and 135 mph winds as it moved through the city of Naples, leaving many residents without power. The storm left behind significant flooding and destruction from high winds.

While anything golf related seems a million miles away from people’s priorities after a hurricane, Florida is considered a golf destination bringing in over US$ 2 billion dollars a year. Many courses experienced flooding or lost a significant number of trees, with others also experiencing significant damage from erosion.

Hole 15 View From Tees After Irma (Above); After Redesign (Below)-GNGCD took the opportunity to improve visibility and visual cues as part of improving strategy.

Hole 15 View From Tees After Irma (Above); After Redesign (Below)-GNGCD took the opportunity to improve visibility and visual cues as part of improving strategy.

One of these courses was our Talis Park Golf Club in Naples. Talis Park opened in 2004 and was designed by Greg Norman and Pete Dye. While the course did lose some trees the primary cause of damage to the club was erosion to all its 106 bunkers. Talis was built on a reclaimed site having almost all its features created from fill material brought in during construction.

The initial bunker style was slightly irregular with steep grass faces reflecting characteristics seen on other Dye courses. Unfortunately, the heavy rains saturated the soil enough to cause all bunker faces to collapse into their sand bottoms rendering them unplayable. To rectify this, the club once again hired Greg Norman Golf Course Design to provide redesign services, working with contractor Glase Golf, to implement a modified Capillary Concrete system.

All bunkers were demoed, salvaging only drainage chambers that were still in suitable condition for reuse. All bunkers and their surrounds were reshaped, softening steeper slopes to prevent future erosion and improve maintenance on the grass faces. Sand lines were raised to flash a little higher to increase visibility and allow the use of Capillary Concrete to not only improve bunker playability and performance, but also to provide support for bunker surrounds and decreased probability of erosion.

The project has been a great success and members are enjoying not only the visual quality, but the performance and playability of the bunkers as well.

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