Here at Stow Acres Country Club, our bunkers are perpetually invaded by stones. The primary cause for this issue is the age of the bunkers, as they were installed before bunker liners became common practice and soils in our area are typically pretty rocky. The liner keeps the rocks from permeating through the base layer into the playable sand. See why the bunkers are in the shape they are in here for a more detailed explanation on this phenomenon.
With adding sand being a losing battle, this year we looked into alternatives to remove the rocks that our golfers were coming across with their sand wedges. Enter the Ondina Sand Cleaner. It was imported from Italy by H. Barber and Sons in CT to deal with the tar balls from the Gulf Oil Spill. This machine digs up to 4″ into the sand trap and vibrates the sand through a screen, filtering out any rocks, acorns, pinecones, or debris it comes across.
This machine will allow us to address the bunkers that need the most attention first, and remedy the current situation faster than we could by renovating and installing liners. The down side to this approach is, it’s certainly less of a permanent solution. Each bunker that is cleaned will have to be routinely inspected and re-cleaned when necessary. Having this piece of equipment on the property will certainly make it easy to keep up with the demand though.
We are very pleased with the efficiency of the Ondina. Here you can see just how many rocks were removed from the bunker behind 1 North Green. This gives a slight idea of what we’re up against in trying to properly address the sand quality in our bunkers on both courses.
Currently to date, we have been able to use the Ondina in all 56 bunkers on the North course. There are certainly some that will need to be done again before the summer hits, but we are well on our way to cleaner bunkers. Next week, we will be starting to add a fresh coat of new sand approximately at a 1″-2″ depth where it is needed. We will also be placing a heavier emphasis on hand raking green-side bunkers to help filter out any stones that may have been left behind. Thanks for your understanding during this timely process! See you on the course!
This short video shows how the Ondina works:
-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent
-Justin Parker, Project Manager