Stockholm, Sweden: Swedish bunker liner firm Capillary Bunkers has just closed the books on a stellar year in its home market. Across the Swedish golf industry, more clubs redid their courses using Capillary Bunkers technology in 2021 than ever before. And the company believes 2022 could be just as strong.
“There were more rounds of golf played in Sweden in both 2020 and 2021 than ever before, and that translates into clubs willing to spend money on upgrading their courses,” said Max Odqvist, Vice-President at Capillary Bunkers, an Associate Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
“We have been in this market for a long time now – obviously, as we’re a Swedish company – and the product practically sells itself. I am based in Stockholm, and it has been fantastic to see so many courses in our immediate area choosing our product,” he added.
One course in the Stockholm region that has recently installed Capillary Bunkers is Djursholms Golfklubb, founded in 1931.
Course manager Jonas Håkansson said it was a natural choice. “We need a liner to make our bunkers last longer,” he said. “Yes, the drainage is important, but it is also about the quality of the sand and to avoid things moving around in the bunkers. I can see a big difference between the new bunkers and the old ones on the nine-hole course.
“In the new bunkers, the sand doesn’t move around so much, even though the faces of the new ones are steeper. We installed Capillary Bunkers in one bunker on our nine-hole course a few years ago as a test, so I had some reference, but we didn’t just immediately specify the product: I evaluated several of the bunker liners on the market. I just didn’t like them as much.”
Djursholms went through a major renovation project starting in 2020 with architect Casper Grauballe, with four completely new greens plus new surrounds and bunkers on the existing ones.
“We have a naturalised grass edge to our new bunkers,” said Håkansson. “They were built using a plywood edge so we could use 15 centimetres of good top-soil right round the bunkers and then put the turf on top of that. We let the plywood edge stay in the bunkers for the whole season until the roots had established and then removed it in the autumn.”
Just a few miles away, Stockholms Golfklubb has also put in the Capillary Bunkers product. Stockholms has recently completed Sweden’s first authentic golf course restoration project, putting back the original design by legendary architect Harry Colt and his partner John Morrison.
Architect Christian Lundin, who oversaw the project, said he and the club chose to use Capillary Bunkers to secure the design’s long-term future: “When they built the course I’m certain they built to the best standards they can. The same is true nowadays. We’re not trying to restore 1932 maintenance standards. We want to give them a playing experience that matches what they had back then, but with modern standards.”
Head Greenkeeper Andreas Wahlberg said the use of a product like Capillary Bunkers will free up time for his team to focus on preserving the historical aesthetic of the new bunkers.
“Over the years, like many older courses, we had lost the shape of the golf course, mostly to make it easier to maintain,” he said. “The new bunkers will be more consistent and easier to maintain. If I’m not worrying about drainage then I can give more attention to maintaining a complex bunker edge.”
Across the country in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, Delsjö Golfklubb has also been working with Lundin on a recently completed course renovation. Working mostly with in-house resources, with assistance from contractor Nelson & Vecchio, Delsjö installed Capillary Bunkers across the course, and is also using the revolutionary Capillary Wash Box to preserve its sand in good condition.
Elsewhere in the Stockholm region, the 27-hole Haninge Golfklubb has installed Capillary Bunkers with assistance from architect Lundin and contractor Nelson & Vecchio.
Other courses across the country that have rebuilt bunkers using the product in 2021 include Saltsjöbaden (with Casper Grauballe), Wäsby, Fågelbro, Västerås (all with Johan Benestam), Wermdö, with Pierre Fulke, Örebro, Nyköping and Björkhagen.