Monday, May 21, 2012

Here's to those Glen Abbey Sand Men

Glen Abbey Sand Men

Bunker crew hard at work rebuilding
all of Glen Abbey's sand traps

By Eric Kohanik 

It was a sunny Friday the 13th in April when On Course caught up with Chris Armatage and the hard-working bunker crew at ClubLink's Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario.

Chris and crew members Rob Roy and Jordan DiGirolamo, along with Glen Abbey Assistant Superintendent Steve Spiers, were all busy getting the internal drainage lines set up just right inside one of the bunkers next to the eighth green.

First, though, there was a layer of pea stone that needed to go into the channel that was dug for each drainage line. After the line was fitted precisely, another layer of pea stone was added on top.
The carefully executed process is just part of what has been an extensive renovation project that began last fall. The goal is to refurbish and rebuild all 94 sand traps at Glen Abbey.

“We began Sept. 7 and got 36 green-side bunkers done last fall,” explains Chris, who has been overseeing the project. Another eight green-side traps were left semi-complete over the winter before work on them geared up again in the spring.

“Our aim is to complete all of the green-side bunkers first and then move on to the fairway bunkers in May,” Chris says. “There are 50 of those!”

Among the challenges facing the crew has been the condition of the “external outlets” – drainage lines that extend from the bunkers and run under fairways and cart paths in order to divert excess water to ponds and storm drains.

“If they're plugged, then we have a little more work to do,” Chris points out. “So far, there's been a half-dozen cases where we had to install new external outlets.”

One of the big tasks still ahead for Chris and his team will be the 17th and 18th holes at Glen Abbey.
Hole 17 boasts a total of 17 bunkers, while the collection of sand traps on the 18th hole includes the notorious Tiger Trap, the site of what still ranks as one of the greatest shots in golf history: Tiger Woods' 218-yard, six-iron shot in the final round of the 2000 Canadian Open.

“It's going to be interesting with all the bunkers there,” Chris concedes. Nevertheless, he and his crew are ready and eager to tackle the challenge.

(First published in On Course - Spring 2012.)