Durabunker History: From Maesteg Golf Club to The PGA Tour
From humble beginnings at a typical members club in the heart of the South Wales Valleys, to the appearance of the product at the LPGA Tour Championships and PGA Tour, the journey of our synthetic bunker product has been an extraordinary one.
The origins of the product can be traced back to Maesteg Golf club, where Durabunker MD, Rhydian Lewis, has been a life long member, and remains actively involved to this day, the golf club having completed the latest stage of Bunker renovation under licence with Durabunker Ltd in Autumn 2015.
It was here that the product was co-developed by Lewis, who at the time was Chairman of Greens. It was during this period a lady member approached Lewis, making him aware that a local High School in Whitchurch, Cardiff, were about to replace their synthetic sports field. The 'waste' material from the old sports field was subsequently utilized on the golf course, being used for pathways, slip areas, winter tees, and pioneered as a bunker liner.
Durabunker Renovation at Maesteg Golf Club, Autumn 2015
"It has been fascinating to follow the development of the product and we are proud to be the pioneers of this innovative construction method. I have known Rhydian personally for many years and his contribution to the club as former 1st team captain and Chairman of Greens has been considerable. He brought the idea to the executive committee many years ago and as part of a 2 man team he was able to develop this idea and introduce it to the golf club, ultimately making it a viable commercial product"
"The growth of the product into a successful brand since that time has been beyond what any of us at the club imagined and we cannot recommend the product or the company highly enough. They certainly have bent over backwards to facilitate us on this most recent project and we will be building further DURAbunkers in the near future"
The very same material that was reclaimed from Whitchurch High School, sat in the car park for some time, before one of the Greens Committee noticed something a little unusual, one of the rolls of synthetic grass had unravelled in such a way as to somewhat resemble a revetted bunker face. This observation was shared initially with the COG, who recognized the potential of what was, at that time, the seeds of an idea.
After further discussion between the 2 committee men, it was agreed to explore the concept further. They worked together to develop the product, firstly through small scale models and eventually as a live prototype during the redevelopment of a par 3 on the golf course. Discussion was held to decide how to best cut and process the material, so that it was fit for purpose, what construction methodologies to use and how the material could be best utilized to produce a stable bunker face. The building of the very first synthetic bunker face of its kind was subsequently completed under the supervision of Lewis.
From this sequence of events and an insightful observation the product that we have now branded Durabunker was born. The company Envirosports Ltd was co-founded by our current MD in 2009 as a vehicle to realize the commercial potential of the construction method and over the subsequent months and years, the development of the product continued with various grades of material, along with different processing techniques and construction methodologies being used.
As one of the original developers of the product, Lewis became the full time Director of Envirosports Ltd, and the co-owner of international patents and registered designs associated with the product and personally went on to build the next number of synthetic bunkers at his home course, along with other local courses such as Pyle and Kenfig GC and Clyne GC, all the while learning important lessons about this new synthetic bunker construction methodology.
The product was officially taken to market by the original partnership and launched at the Harrogate BTME show in 2011, being received very positively by its early adopters. Shortly afterwards UK venues such as St Andrews, Berwick on Tweed and Southerdown trialled the product, with our MD subsequently building bunkers at each venue. The first oversees project came in the form of a new 9 holes at Frosaker GC, Sweden, where former Ryder Cup Star Pierre Fulke was appointed as the architect for the project.
From that point onwards the product quickly gained recognition as a viable alternative to traditional bunker construction methods that used natural sod. Further refinements were incorporated into the construction method at various stages over the subsequent years, techniques used to combat edge burn off were integrated into the product as recently as 2013, some of which followed valuable input from clients and research carried out on behalf of Envirosports Ltd by the STRI, as the methodology continued to evolve.
Today, our successor company Durabunker Ltd, continues to utilize the unique bunker construction methodology and we have re-branded the product as Durabunker, a construction methodology co-developed by our MD, who is also the co-inventor of all design patents and registered designs related to the product. Our company has continued the development of the product through refinement of the 'Double Stack' system, originally trialled at Pyle and Kenfig GC, under an NDA, but not brought to market until it was refined and built by our team, at prestigious courses such as St Enodoc GC (UK) and Tennessee National GC (USA) in the Autumn of 2014. Since that time many courses have followed suit, utilizing the methodology that we re-visited and refined after 4 years of it lying dormant.
"As the co-inventor of all granted design patents and registered designs associated with our construction method, and co-developer of the product I am very proud of the results we have achieved thus far and the success that has come our way. The journey since the birth of the idea in 2009, to the development of a bunker construction method that has now been built in 10 different countries and approved by some of the leading architects in the industry, including Nicklaus Design, has been extraordinary.
To be personally involved at every stage of that journey, from concept, to construction of the very first scale model and prototype bunker, to the subsequent development of the construction methodology, and the launch of the product to market, has been a source of great pride. I believe this construction methodology will become widely recognized as a viable and cost effective way in which to build bunkers and I am very excited by what the future holds for both the product and our company"