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Turfunderground at Torrey Pines

Eric von Hofen at Torrey Pines
Eric von Hofen stopping by Torrey Pines just outside San Diego.

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Part 2 of Riviera Puts Ross Back In It’s Bunkers

Eric von Hofen and Riviera CC #14 bunkers

Eric J. von Hofen, Director of Agronomy at Riviera Country Club with Golf Course Architect Brian Silva working in the fairway bunker complex on hole #10.  Brian has worked on and restored many Donald Ross courses throughout the United States.  Brian has a great approach to each project. He believes there was an oversimplification of style or character on what a Ross bunker was or was not. The vast majority of the bunkers at Riviera had to be restored because they merely had grass faces down to the sand level. As more and more vintage photos and plans of Donald Ross bunkers become available, the plans and ”as built” photos suggest bunkers that are more involved in shape and style. And the bunkers that result from this study do a good job of what bunkers should do – they grab the attention of the players and suggest alternatives of play as one stands on a tee or in a landing area in preparation of an approach shot.

Eric von Hofen and Brian Silva

We had four sets of teams working on the bunkers at Riviera.  The first team was in charge of removing the old sand and old liner.  The second team removed the sod in the areas that were going to be impacted by the new design so we could tie in the new contours to the existing grades. During this phase the new bunker was painted out and rough shaped.  The third team, also known as the finish crew, came back to do the hand work.  The fourth and final team consisted of in-house Riviera employees that installed 419 Bermudagrass sod from Pike Creek Turf.
Eric von Hofen
Originally we had bid an average of 4 to 5 inches of sand that had to be removed in each bunker.  This picture shows that some bunkers actually contained 18 to 24 inches of sand.  This created problems for us and for Ryan Golf.  Together we worked through this obstacle and thankfully this happened on only a handful of holes.  Removing the large volume of sand from the bunkers produced a completely different appearance, giving them a much deeper look.
eric von hofen
The decision to use bunker liners, and the actual installation of the liners, requires quite a bit of research.  The design of the bunker demands protection from washouts.  A thicker liner is required to hold the sand in place, allowing the water to run behind the sand so it does not wash out.  A softer and more shallow bunker design allows for a thinner liner to be used.  A thinner liner translates to a lower material cost but not necessarily a lower installation cost. When it comes to liner installation, labor is labor and the contractor will need to be paid for his time, regardless of how thick or thin the liner may be.  As stated earlier, the design of the bunker needs to protect the bunker from washouts.  This goes for greenside bunkers as well as fairway bunkers. This can be a challenge depending on the area you have to work with. Adding fingers and noses to the bunkers helps with this process by adding more surface area of grass to break up the water flow. The drawback to the sexy shapes and sizes to the fingers and noses is that it will require more bunker liner material to be installed.
Eric von Hofen
The odd angles suck up the liner material because it’s hard to make the tie-ins work and fit together. This process creates a lot of waste of the liner material. The cost can sky rocket if you get too crazy. Then you have the process of deciding to install liner in just the faces or the entire bunker. Here at Riviera we had to do every bunker on the golf course because of the coral rock base the course is built on. We went with a thinner liner to control cost and paid a lot of attention to the design and flow of the surface water. We were then faced with another problem, and that was, “How do we attach the seams of the bunker liner together on a coral rock base?”.  We could not just install a metal staple every few inches because the staples would bend and break when we would hammer them into the rock and sand base. A Liquid Nails product rated for extreme heat was used for attaching the seams of the liner together. A small bead of glue was placed on one side of the liner and the two edges were placed together. Ryan Golf’s, Buddy White,  came up with that idea and it worked. With the liner in place, staples were then hammered in and the bunkers were then ready for sand.

The video below captures the restoration of #8 greenside bunker at Riviera Country Club.

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The El Camaleon Golf Club at Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico

Eric von Hofen
Eric on a site visit with his brother, Superintendent Kurt von Hofen at his Greg Norman designed El Camaleon Golf Club at Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

This one of a kind course will host the PGA TOUR’S Mayakoba Golf Classic, the only PGA TOUR event outside of the United States, February 23-27, 2011. Make your travel plans now so you can get out of the cold weather and enjoy the Cancun area this winter.

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Eric behind the scenes with NBC Sports


Eric working with NBC’s producer on last minute details before they go on the air.

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Turfundergound Tour De France

Eric von Hofen takes you through the CDG airport in Paris, The Metro, The Tower and some of his favorite places to eat. Paris is a perfect place to use as hub while traveling to other places in Europe. Air France, Easy Jet, AirEurope, AIr Berlin, Czech Air all fly thru CDG and Orly so you can get anywhere you need to. There are some great golf courses located about 20 minutes outside of Paris. Full blown country club style. Next time in Paris, get a car and drive out to check them out.

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Eric at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany


Another great video for The 19th Hole. Everyone loves a fast car, but to see so many classic Porsches in one location it’s hard to handle. The Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany has over 80 cars in it from race cars to prototypes to current day releases. The museum is loaded with bits of history about the famous car marker and his family. The displays are works of art and the cars are spotless. Christophorus Restaurant is located in the lower level and the gift store is only steps away. I advise you to take a tour of the factory located two blocks away. Check with them thru your local Porsche dealer or car Club. Reservations can be tough and are made sometimes a year in advance. If you have Porsche this helps with getting in. Enjoy the video.

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Welcome to TurfUnderground.com & a tour of St. Andrews

Turfunderground.com founder Eric J. von Hofen teeing off on the 18th hole of Old Course St. Andrews in Scotland. The Old Course has records that show that the course has been is existence since 1400 AD. The course has withstood the test of time and today still is a true test of golf. The course has been sharing ground with the home of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club since 1754. In the summer of 2010 the Old Course hosted the British Open for the 28th time.
Louis Oosthuizen, from South Africa, was the Open Winner. Check out the video of us playing the Old Course.

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The Plantation Course at Kapalua in Maui, Hawaii

Eric J. von Hofen surveying the land of the Plantation Course at Kapalua in Maui, Hawaii. The Ritz-Carlton is located near the course and is absolutely a wonderful place to stay. The Course will host the PGA TOUR’S SBS Championship January 2-9, 2011

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El Camaleon Golf Club at Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico

Eric on a site visit with his brother, Superintendent Kurt von Hofen at his Greg Norman designed El Camaleon Golf Club at Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

This one of a kind course will host the PGA TOUR’S Mayakoba Golf Classic, the only PGA TOUR event outside of the United States, February 23-27, 2011. Make your travel plans now so you can get out of the cold weather and enjoy the Cancun area.

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