Bigwin Golf Club Bunker Renovation

by David Smith

Bigwin Golf Club Bunker Renovation

Bigwin Island Golf Club, which officially opened in 2001 and was voted the best new golf course in Canada in 2002, has consistently been a topped ranked course in the Country. It was a course that I was personally involved with the construction of, and along with being a member of the Club, I have been involved with the operations and management since the day the facility opened.

Last year with the support of the members, it was decided to renew the bunkers, which were well past their life expectancy and are likely the only item holding Bigwin back from moving into one of the top 10 ranked courses in the country. Rather than just replace the sand and make modifications to the bunker liners and drainage, it was decided to bring Doug Carrick back into the picture. This included having Doug assess the course and use this as an opportunity to make sure Bigwin is positioned for the future and to meet the needs of the changing golf industry. The result was a redesign that reduced the area of bunkers by approximately 25% and raised many of the bunkers or pushed them closer to the green sites, thus eliminating blind or long sand shots.

Bigwin is already one of the most “playable” scenic courses in the country, with it’s signature 6th and 18th holes, wide open fairways, and no “forced carries”. When presented the opportunity by Doug Carrick that we could actually make the course a much better experience for golfers of all playing levels, it was met by the members with overwhelming support and excitement.

The project was started last fall and is scheduled to be completed before the start of the prime summer golf season. The work is being completed by KCM Construction Group, a company that has many of the talented people I formally worked with at Bruce S. Evans Limited. The bunkers are being lined with Terrafix – Bentofix geosynthetic clay liner and the sand being installed will be Pro Angle Sand, supplied by R.W. Sidley Inc. and Hutcheson Sand Mixes. This is a link to a video that explains more of the philosophy behind the renovations.

The changes at Bigwin are to essentially adapt to an industry that needs to be more “inclusive and fun”. Still extremely challenging for the low handicap golfers, but very appealing to the average golfer, who does not enjoy being beat up on the course or losing a bunch of golf balls. Most importantly, the course will be less intimidating to new or less experienced golfers of all ages.

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