It's that time of year for our department, time for our annual, or shall I say bi-annual, edging of the bunkers. Yes, that's what I said, Bi-annual. In the summer of 2003 we completed the restoration of the bunkers on the course and for the past 8 years our bunkers have only been edged on an every other year basis. When Ron Prichard restored the bunkers we had many discussions as to how the new bunkers should be maintained. One of my main objectives at that time was to maintain the integrity of the bunker shape as best as we could for as long as possible. The bunkers he built were designed to have a laced edge to them, NEVER a clean "Augusta" style. These bunkers were meant to have a classic look and feel.
Throughout the years we have worked hard, or should I say not worked, at providing the style they were intended to have. Mechanical raking is a big no no. A mechanical rake is used about once a month to help cultivate and turn over the sand. All it takes is one employee not paying attention to details and the bunker edges can be destroyed. Secondly we have never, ever edged bunkers with a power edger. The turf line is intended to have the laced look. A power edger can only create a straight line. Additionally when most guys use a power edger they will cut the turf back to the soil line. Another no no. Edging into the soil line creates contamination of the sand. In 8 years our bunkers have no self inflicted contamination. Zero!
Our bunkers are edged "old school" style, using a four pronged pitchfork. The operator finds the edge, shoves the pitchfork into the ground and proceeds to rip the turf away from the edge. Through this process we are able to avoid yearly edging. As the turf continues to grow and enter the bunker, there is no obvious edge and the turf can enter the sand without appearing to be over-growing the bunker and the laced look continues without damage to the original bunker. Some areas of the bunker edge require no edging at all, typically the face edge and the leading edge at times we can remove up to 12" of turf from the sand.
No one said it was easy. With 99 bunkers to edge the entire process can take up to 6 days. But considering the last time we edged bunkers was the 2008 season, I think we can put in the time and do whatever it takes to have the bunkers edged properly and maintain the integrity of this style of bunker