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ADS Horizontal Drain Boxes Save Money for Golf Courses

Houston, Texas -- The Horizontal Drain Box (HDB), a patent-ping drainage structure that quickly drains any standing water from golf course bunkers, is now in use at more than 400 courses in the United States, according to the developer of the product, Tour 18’s Jim Cooper.

“We knew we had a winner when we introduced it at the 2002 Golf Course Superintents show, and came back with more than 100 orders without any promotion,” Cooper said. Those initial orders, he stated, generated more orders. “The first HDB units were installed by courses in bunkers with serious problems. We quickly received numerous reorders to do all the bunkers on these courses.”

Brought to market in 2002, the HDB is now distributed by Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (ADS), (Hillard, OH), the world’s largest manufacturer of high density polyethylene (HDPE) drainage pipe and fittings used for decades in the golf course industry.

Measuring 8 x 16 x 48 inches, the HDB provides the drainage inlet area of 52 feet of 4-inch perforated pipe and can be readily used in new construction and easily added to existing bunkers. A fiberglass screen on top filters silt and clay and easily serviceable.

According to Cooper, courses that have installed the HDB quickly recovered their initial investment. “Sand bunkers are critical to making a great golf course, but are a big time nightmare to maintain. Even with the traditional 4-inch pipe drainage system, bunkers can stay wet for a long time. This means the superintent has to rent pumps and devote a crew to pumping out bunkers for an entire day. This hurts a club from a number of different standpoints. Not only is there the outlay for the pumps, but there’s also the cost of labor and fees that are lost because the course is unplayable. Wet, soggy bunkers will also damage a club’s reputation. After a while even if there is a mild rain, players are apt to stay away.”

Both private and municipal courses regardless of the size of its maintenance or capital improvement budget are using the HDB to make even the biggest puddles disappear. Jersey Meadows, a municipal course in Houston, has found the HDB to be very practical especially within its restricted budget. Starting and succeeding with his “problem child” as he calls the 9th hole, Treavor Ogden, course superintent, is now continuing to install the horizontal drain box in each of his 33 bunkers.

“The HDB has been a lifesaver,” he said. “We’re very limited on what we can sp. So if there’s anything we can do to offset some expenses we’ll go for it.” Ogden and his crew do the installation themselves. “The 9th hole is the first hole every player sees before they even get on the course,” he explained. “So if it’s wet, everyone knows and judges whether to play the course on that one hole. That’s why we decided to first try the box there, and we’re quickly moving to put the box in all the other bunkers. “We haven’t had to use more than one box in a bunker even though some or our drain lines are 40 – 50 feet long. The box acts like a sump, drawing and collecting water for a rapid run-off.”

When it comes to making the course lay enjoyably, any standing water is a problem. “We got two inches of rain one Thursday night, and usually this would keep players away on Friday, one of our busiest days. But with fast drainage from the box, our players found good conditions and were very happy to be able to play early the next day. “This area west of Houston is very flat and the clay soil is almost impermeable. So when it rains, the water flows down into the bunkers and just sits there. Before the HDB, we would have four guys go out with two pumps and sp a full 8-hour day pumping out the bunkers,” Ogden said.

But labor was just part of the extra expense after a rain. The pumps would also pump out sand so sometimes the entire bunker would have to be reconstructed. “The HDB has virtually eliminated that,” he said. “We have the box in 11 bunkers now and we need just one man to pump out any of the remaining bunkers. “We’re very pleased with the box. Matter of fact, it’s performing better than we thought. Even after two tropical storms, we haven’t had any problems. And the screens have not clogged up. We haven’t had to clean off the screens as recommed because the box drains so well.”

In south Houston, known for flash flooding, poor drainage and where tropical storms congregate, Magnolia Hills Superintent Ben Fultz has his work cut out for him. Like Jersey Meadows, the 27-hole course is basically flat with man-made slopes and was actually built on a former rice farm. “We had three inches of rain on a Saturday, and just had to rake the sand on Sunday, the HDBs worked so well,” Fultz related. “With the box, our traps don’t even puddle, the water goes right into the drainage system.” Fultz and his crew also do all the box installations. Each one takes about four hours and includes a full reclamation of each bunker. He explained that he found the HDB soon after it was introduced, but not soon enough to save the course from a typical Gulf Coast storm.

“After tropical storm Allison came through in 2001, we had lots of problems with bunker drainage due to silt contamination and the wash out caused by the vast amount of heavy rain.” In the Houston area, Allison dumped more than 30 inches of rain in just a few days, and caused $4.8 billion in damage. “After that massive storm, each bunker had to be reconstructed at a significant cost in terms of lost lay and hard dollars. We had to figure out this problem because we knew it would happen again. Strong storms are a fact of life in Houston, and taking care of bunkers after a big rainstorm is a big, labor-intensive fact of life. “I guess right after Allison, Tour 18 came to us and installed a box,” Fultz recalled. “Then a funny thing happened – the next day it rained about five inches in just a few hours, and this one bunker drained perfectly. All we had to do was touch up the sand. The owners saw it and said ‘put ‘em in’. We ed up putting in 100, and each and each and every one is performing perfectly.”

Futz and his crew installed two a day. “We use the herringbone drain design from ADS, and so it’s easy to attach the box to the existing drain lines. We didn’t even have to change the pitch of the bunker.” He also said the box has helped his budget as well. “The HDB has cut by 10 percent what we used to sp on bunker maintenance and repair. It has paid for itself.” Rehabilitating courses is a major market for the HDB, according to Steve Helmrich, allied products market manager for ADS. He also said course designers are also favoring the box for new installations.

Randy Heckenkemper of Heckenkemper Golf Course Design in Tulsa is one strong proponent. “The box is now part of our bunker specification,” he stated. He has seen a continuing evolution in what players want, not only on their course and in their clubhouse, but now also in the bunkers. “During the past 20 years with the growing popularity of the PGA tournaments on television, everyday players see the traps on these courses and want the same. They’re now expecting the bunkers on their courses – whether it’s a private or municipal club – to look the same, which is to say nicely groomed and dry. With the HDB we can give any bunker on any course that look and playability. “For example,” he continued, “in Tulsa we had eight inches of rain during the Labor Day week. Even after two days of rain, we didn’t have any standing water in the bunkers with a box.

“If we didn’t have it, the sand would have been contaminated and would have had to been replaced. And at $60 a ton for white sand, that’s going to add up…plus labor and lost playing time.” Heckenkemper uses Klingstone polymer to help secure the box and to minimize the silt. “We found this stabilizes the sub-grade of the bunker and works well with the drainage system.” The HDB is also used with the drainage system designed specifically for golf courses by ADS. According to ADS’ Helmrich. “Bunkers have always presented a challenge to the golfers and the course superintent. As a golfer, most of us avoid the bunkers; however, on those occasions when the ball lies in the bunker, working with saturated sand or worse yet, standing water messes with your concentration on the game. As the course superintent, the golfer’s attitude after play is paramount. The superintent does not want the golfer to blame his daily score on the course maintenance. We’ve been helping fairways. greens and other areas to drain with our traditional four inch pipe, or our AdvanEDGE® flat pipe, the Tour 18 HDB was the key to solving the bunker drainage problem.

“It’s so simple and makes such good sense. The beauty of the box is that it intensifies water removal while working with the features and benefits of the herringbone drainage design pattern of any existing system.” Course owners, superintents, operations personnel, course architects, designers and developers have told him that the growing popularity of the game is tightening playing time, and that they will consider any product, system or method that enables golfers to start on time, play the course on schedule and leave with fond memories of their coarse. “Today’s golfer have busy schedules and continuous play is key to fond memories of the day’s game,” Helmrich explained. Any standing water on the course, whether it’s on the tee box, fairway, green or in the bunker, influences the players psychologically and the course economically.”

“Standing water in a bunker can disturb your thought process. You can loose the luster of your game for that particular day, and that is locked into your memory of that course. If you have a bad day, you’re reluctant to go there again. When you have a great day, you want to recomm the course to others and await your return. ADS is continuing to develop products and work with companies such as Tour 18 that will enhance a player’s enjoyment of the game. We might not be able to improve his or her score, “he said with a smile, “but we will continue to introduce products that help improve the course conditions.”

About Advanced Drainage Systems

Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc., (ADS), founded in 1966, offers a complete line of pipe and fittings for superior water management. The company produces pipe in 3-inch to 60-inch diameters, in addition to a complete line of fittings and other accessories including Nyloplast drainage structures and AdvanEDGE flat pipe. ADS serves the drainage industry through a global network of 24 manufacturing plants, 30 distribution centers and nearly 4000 indepent distributors. To learn more about ADS, log on to, or call 800-733-8523 x 346 Heidi Huddleston

About Tour 18 Design Group

TOUR 18 Design Group is the leader in designing and developing 'concept' golf courses in the United States. They combine simulations of America's most famous golf courses with exceptional residential planning to provide memorable outings and exceptional golf course community living. The idea for the HDB came as a result of their desire to solve poorly draining bunkers, one of the most problematic areas for golf course superintents. TOUR 18 Design Group has also formed a bunker renovation division where they will reconstruct bunkers and the drainage for up to a 5-year guarantee. For more information, log on to, or call 832-381-1040.