How to Build a Golf Course Sand Trap

Rees Jones is one of the world's top golf course designers but might be more known for his troubleshooting work. He often is called in to help aging golf courses keep up with the times by adding things such as creeks and sand traps at opportune spots. His goal is to make each hole a challenge to top golfers but not impossible for duffers. Sand traps are one of the best ways to make a hole more challenging, he said.

Building the Better Sand Trap

Start by looking at the entire hole. Jones starts the process by standing at the tee box and imagining where and how bunkers will go. Creating something visually stunning is the key.

Draw out the plans. Jones said once he gets an idea of where the bunker will go, he will sit down and sketch some ideas. He wants to make a bunker that contours to the greens but does not overwhelm them. He said there is no set pattern or size to a perfect sand trap.

Cut away the turf where the bunker will go. Use cornered edges and cut wider because this will give workers more area to dig in.

Use a front-end loader to remove the dirt. Remove just enough so the dirt later can be replaced by the sand.

Dump in the sand about a foot at a time and have the workers rake and shovel it together. This will help prevent erosion. Also, mix the natural dirt and the sand along the edges of the trap to help keep it from shifting.

Work over the sand with rakes until it is finished. This can take several hours to make sure all of the sand is settled.

Returf the sod around the edges of the trap so the opening for the trap is slightly wider than the trap itself.


Sand traps are technically called bunkers under the rules of golf. Some courses are using synthetic sand that does not get wet like regular sand.


Think of ways to prevent drainage and pooling of water in the bunkers. One way is to make sure they always have an angle on them, but most of the time, it is very tough to do so.