Six-hole academy facility is testing ground for proposed installation on the main course.
PAPHOS, Cyprus – A new six-hole par 3 academy course at Aphrodite Hills in Cyprus is serving as a test site for a proposed bunker renovation on the resort’s main course.
Aphrodite Hills was designed by American architect Cabell Robinson and opened in 2002. Robinson returned to Cyprus to design the new academy course, which sits on a site previously occupied by an under-used earlier short course.
“We have reduced the area in half – the new course is just under 1.5 hectares (3.7 acres) and freed up the rest of the ground for more real estates,” explains course superintendent David Blair. “The new course has been built to PGA National academy specifications: the holes range in length from 60-100 meters.”
The new course has 12 bunkers, which cover about 400-square meters in total, and which have been lined using the Capillary Bunkers system, including the Capillary Wash Box, which will enable Blair’s team to keep the sand’s color through pressure washing.
“Depaco Golf Construction, the contractor that built the course, did all the preparatory work on the bunkers, but the Capillary Bunkers liner itself was installed by our golf maintenance team,” says Blair. “CapillaryFlow’s Kneale Diamond came over for a few days to direct operations and to check that the concrete mix was correct. It was a very simple process.”
The work on the new bunkers was done in April, at the tail end of the wet season in Cyprus, but Blair says they have already been tested.
“A week after we installed the liner, we had a significant rain, and not a grain of sand moved in the bunkers,” he says.
Although this is a small project, it will serve as a test bed for one that could be a lot bigger. When Aphrodite was built, the bunkers were lined with a geotextile, but it is no longer functioning as designed.
“On the main course we have around 14,000 sq m of bunkers, and they are deep and steep faced,” says Blair. “There is no liner in them now – the old fabric was ripped and useless – and they didn’t present too well. We could not keep the color of the sand, because the fines in the clay contaminate it.
“Sometimes if we spray a wetting agent and turn on the irrigation to water it in, we get puddling in the greenside bunkers – on the academy course there’s not a drop of water to be seen. On the 11th hole, we have three bunkers that flood quite badly – we have put Capillary Bunkers into one of them, so we will get a really good comparison this winter.”
Aphrodite Hills earned certification for its environmental work from the Golf Environment Organization three years ago and has just been recertified.
“When we installed the Capilary Bunkers on the academy course, we assessed the sustainability issues very closely – and we have used warm season grasses across its entirety,” says Blair.