Sand Buckets

We are reviewing some of the practices here at the Hamilton Golf Club and the use of sand buckets has received some discussion.  Sand buckets have been used for a number of years with the idea being that players, when unable to retrieve their divot, use the sand to fill the hole leftover. As a result of analysing this technique, we have decided that we will stop using them for the reasons outlined below.

A fresh divot                  Repaired divot

Sanding divots is a practice widely used in the USA, Australia and other countries where warm season grasses (kikuyu, couch, bermuda etc) are the main grass type on the fairways. Warm season grasses grow quickly during summer months and have the ability to spread laterally filling in adjacent areas. Think about finding a kikuyu runner (technical name is a stolon!) in your lawn and when you pull it up how far it extends. This rapid ability to grow sideways means divots can fill back in in only a matter of several days.

A Kikuyu stolon

In New Zealand, most golf courses have fairways compromising of cool season grasses. Cool season grasses grow better in cooler conditions such as Spring and Autumn but slow down during Summer and drier months. Our fairways are a mixture of Poa Annua and Browntop which have the capacity to spread laterally but not to the same extent as the warm season grasses above. Due to this slower growth spread, any sand applied into the divot hole will likely have been displaced by mowers, wind and rain/irrigation by the time the grass has grown enough to recover. Improperly used sand leads to damage of the mowing equipment and can generate a very difficult golf shot to play. Sand buckets can also lead to the situation of people not making any effort to repair their divot and just using the sand instead which means you have both sand and turf affecting the mowers and play!

A divot overfilled with sand waiting to damage the mower!

The ideal option for filling a divot is to use a soil/sand mix with grass seed mixed into it. The challenge with this is trying to keep the mix dry so the seed doesnt germinate before it is required. There is also a greater more work required for making the mix and requires storage options that are waterproof. We do use this option on tees when we carry out any divot repair work.

The best option for repairing divots is to replace the removed piece of turf and press it down firmly with your foot. The roots will retake under the right conditions and the turf knits back together. In the event that the divot has broken up into pieces that cant be replaced, either look for another divot (hopefully there arent any as everyone is putting them back!) or to use your club and "chop" in the edges to fill the divot from the sides. This not only fills the divot but moves grass into the middle so it regrows quicker than it would if not done.

Using a club to repair divot

Course care is the responsibility of all players and helps us to produce the best golfing conditions we can. Please try to be aware of the impact you have on the course and do your bit to repair the damage you create.

Good Golfing

The Maintenance Team
Hamilton Golf Club


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