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Playing on broken glass

PGA Golfers on the European Seniors Tour last month played on bunkers made from recycled glass a landmark in the development of the alternative market. For the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), this was the reward for two years of faith and hard work.

The Government-funded market-development body started working with the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) in 2002 to try to prove the merits of processed sand. The showcase of this product at the De Vere Carden Park PGA event in Chester came just a few weeks after a seminar showed off the successful findings of the WRAP and STRI project.

The seminar was held on July 28 at the STRI head office in Bingley, Yorkshire. Delegates included members of the Greenkeepers Training Committee, the English Golf Union and the European Institute of Golf Course Architects.

Delegates heard that the material had fallen within accepted parameters for sand on golf courses when tested in laboratories and against United States Golf Association specifications. It was tested for use in bunkers and on top-dressing applications.

The key features of processed sand that were identified at the seminar were:

l It outperforms natural sand in bunkers, providing firmer underfoot conditions and less plugging of the ball on impact as well as being able to rest at a slightly deeper angle. This is all largely due to its natural angularity

l This angularity, although greater than many conventional sands, poses no specific danger to users, greenkeepers or their equipment

l Its natural green colour can be advantageous. For example, local planners are now keen for bunkers to blend in with the landscape more readily WRAP is sponsoring further trials to establish the potential for blending natural and processed sand in bunkers

l It can be used to camouflage divot repairs and to aid with tee construction

l It is suitable for rootzone construction, provided that a suitable regime is in place to monitor and manage pH levels

STRI project manager Dr Andy Owen said: We were extremely encouraged by the positive response we had during the site tour, particularly in the bunker trial areas.

Not only were the audience impressed by the quality of the material, they also raised no objections in terms of colour or possible health and safety concerns.

WRAP material sector manager for glass Andy Dawe added: The signs for processed sand are very good; it is clearly a product that works. This event also shows greenkeepers are keen to include it as part of their increasing commitment towards environmental awareness and responsibility.

Carden Park golf course and estates manager Andy Campbell is also chairman of the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association. He said after the PGA event: The processed sand is excellent and the feedback from golfers has been very positive, with the reports saying that it played just as well as traditional sand. On the maintenance side, I believe that it is perfect as a divot-repair material.

WRAP has reported a rush of interest since the Carden Park event, and the STRI is hopeful the material will catch on.

Owen said: One of the main drivers behind our original application for WRAP funding was the rate at which natural sand is being consumed. It comes as no surprise to find that others are reaching similar conclusions. u

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