Size Matters: Why Bunker Sand Particle Size is Important

March 19, 2015

Golf bunker sand has to be the perfect size to provide the stability and cushion golf courses need.

Golf course maintenance is a challenging enterprise for even the most experienced superintendent. In addition to maintaining the height of the grass blades and condition of the tees, there is also the state of the bunker to consider. It may not seem like a huge undertaking to the untrained eye, but make no mistake, there is much planning involved in creating and maintaining the perfect sand trap. One of the issues to be carefully considered is the particle size of the bunker sand itself.

Bunker sand has two purposes

The main goals of a properly constructed bunker is the sand’s ability to cushion the ball and foot traffic stability. The point of the bunker is that it’s a penalty, adding difficulty to the game. So, when the ball lands there, it should neither bounce out or be buried so deep that it’s impossible to play.

At the same time, the one who aims to get the ball out of the bunker needs stable footing to do so. Sand that is too hard or too soft will cause not only problems for the lie of the ball but also for the golfer attempting to play on.

Particle size makes all the difference

The particle size of the sand will take care of both of these issues simultaneously. After rigorous testing, it’s been found that the best performing sands for bunker play are angular rather than round and contain a very small amount of clay, silt and very fine sand particles. All of these issues affect the lie of the ball and will contribute either positively or negatively to the impact of a golf ball.

Poorly sized bunker sand is damaging

There are several reasons why it’s necessary to be selective about bunker sand. For starters, if the particles are too small, like in a mixture with too much silt or clay, then the bunker has the potential to “set-up” or crust over too often, creating an undesirable playing surface. Similarly, because golfers tend to spray sand when attempting a shot out of the bunker, large particles can compromise the integrity of the putting green, and damage mowers and make greens unpredictable.

Mid-sized sand is best

A good standard is to choose the sand that’s in the middle range particle size. Any extreme has the potential to cause problems. Steer clear of mixtures that are too fine or too coarse, too angular or too round. You want to look for bunker sand that’s appropriate for your climate as well. For instance, it may be necessary to use quick draining sand in wet climates.

We’ll help you choose the right sand for your course

Choosing the correct particle size for your bunker is an important consideration when designing or redesigning a golf course. By picking the right type you can ensure an active bunker that requires little maintenance, happy golfers, and healthy greens. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about our bunker sand applications and what grain type is ideal for your course.

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