Shell Bunker reconstruction pt. 1

It’s that time of year again where construction is on the agenda for the greenkeeping department at the Home of Golf. As ever it’s a busy period with various winter projects ongoing across the Links.

Shell Bunker on the 7th hole of the Old Course is on the priority list of bunkers to be reconstructed due to the amount of play it receives. It’s been seven years since any major work was done to it so the time was right to give it some proper attention.

Shell Bunker

Shell is one of the four largest bunkers on the Old Course, the other three being Cartgate, Cottage and Hell pictured below.

Cartgate (3rd hole)

Cottage (4th hole)

Hell (14th hole)

The dig out of Shell Bunker

Because of the sheer size of Shell, it is more efficient and less labour intensive to utilise our tractors to dig out the bunker. The base is levelled with the old traditional method of posts and spirit levels.

The revetted bunker turf we use is from our turf nursery at Kincaple just outside St Andrews. The turf is cut to a 2 inch thickness and 600 millimetres in length. Usually in a ‘normal’ bunker, the revetted turf is then halved but because of the size of Shell’s bunker face and the weight behind it, we’ve used the full-size cut for stability and to prevent any collapse.

Face angle being checked

It’s very important during the build that we keep an eye on the angle of the bunker face and the horizontal level of the layered turf. The angle for greenside bunkers is 70 degrees and 65 for fairway bunkers.

Revetted rows are regularly checked with a spirit level

Another key factor in the build is not overcrowding the job. Too many staff and each would get in the way of one another which can lead to inconsistency and confusion during the build. Five squad members is an adequate number of bodies to get the job done.

Bunker face left to settle

The build has reached three-quarters of the way in height so it’s now time to let the face settle. Gievn some time along with rain, which is typical at this time of year, the exisiting sand and soil will compress and squeeze out any air pockets.

We will return in two week times to add the finishing touches so look out for pt.2!

Words by Craig Berry, Old Course Supervisor

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