In the Summer 2010 edition of “By Design,” writer Ian Tittershill, managing director of Sportcrete, shares his thoughts on the science of bunker drainage. Tittershill says that drainage is the key factor in golf construction, particularly in the design and construction of bunkers.

Tittershill writes that while simple drainage schemes—such as perforated pipe with gravel overlaid—have long been used, drainage principles within bunkers need to be challenged so bunkers can be efficiently maintained. He encourages an in-depth look at the physics of water movement to develop a strategy that will result in water evacuation from sand more efficiently than gravity alone.

The author describes how traditional drains effectively create a perched water table in the base of bunkers. He also explains that as water in bunkers seeks to migrate to the bunkers’ bases, its movement causes washout or sand movement, thus resulting in erosion and contamination. When this sand is returned to the bunkers’ faces, the sand quality is lessened and drainage capacity is decreased.

Tittershill advises that bunker construction and lining are extremely important in both construction and maintenance. While bunkers account for less than two percent of a typical course’s playing area, they claim over 25 percent of maintenance costs. Tittershill encourages bunkers to be designed, constructed, and lined to enable maintenance and work with natural conditions and environment.

To read Tittershill’s article as it appears in “By Design,” please view pages 14–15 of the magazine’s digital edition here.

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