I am all for eliminating fly mowing and hand raking bunkers. A golf course should strive to eliminate as much of the hand work as it can in order to lower maintenance costs. Native grasses should be utilized as much as feasible (saving water and mower time). Tees should be big enough to mow with ride-on equipment (speeding up mowing time as well as allowing more “healing time” for divots). As much as I hate to say it, a lot of sand traps seem to double as catch basins for surface water (terrible combination).
An Architect or experienced Shaper can help decide if a bunker should be converted to a basin, adjusted to divert water around it, or eliminated altogether. Along with this decision, in my opinion there is way to much “sand flashing” (sand placed high on the slope). Sand only needs to be flashed high enough to be seen if it can be reached by the golfer (in my opinion it is not a fair hazard unless it can be seen by the golfer). Some say “see how good it looks” but it does not look so good after a rain, or after years of rains cause contamination of the sand. A little less flash still looks good (even after a rain) and can be maintained with a Sand Pro. Some people like a ragged, jagged bunker edge, which means hand raking all the coves and hand mowing all the edges… Is it worth it?
There are tons of “methods” of building bunkers. I have heard of concrete sub-grades and molten plastic sprayed on the sub-grade to form a barrier to prevent contamination. To me this just exasperates the need to shovel sand back up the slope after a heavy rain. There are liners that provide a layer between the sub-grade and the sand for the rain water to travel through on its way to the drain. These work well for a while IF installed correctly, but the first time that you snag the liner with a Sand Pro, the fun is over and the work begins. I find it best to build low profile bunkers with lots of perforated pipe, and divert surface drainage around the bunker. If you find that the addition of a nearby catch basin will help, that can usually be accomplished very easily by connecting to the solid pipe that drains the bunker.
Tees should be Laser Leveled in order to insure usage of 100% of the tee space (not to mention it looks way more professional). Typically a Tee should be at least 30X30 in order to be big enough to mow with ride-on equipment and provide adequate tee space. The second tee and par 3’s require more space due to more usage and irons on par 3’s. I have seen a terrible, wavy, driving range tee that was about 2 acres, but you could only use about 25% of the tee. This means that if you only need 1/2 acre for a practice tee, if it were Laser Leveled they would cut 75% of their mowing time, and they would have an additional 1.5 acres to do something productive with.
Native grasses make a course look like it has always been there, saves on mowing and watering needs, and just makes a golf course look less “manufactured”, more “natural”.
We have the experience and expertise to help your course identify sensitive areas that can be adjusted in order to save maintenance needs, look more natural, and speed up play. Trust me, meeting the delicate balance of beauty/playable/maintainable is the trend that architects are starting to embrace.