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Golf Course Drainage in Golf Course Trades Magazine article featuring AirField Systems AirDrain

blog, golf course, natural grass, natural turf, Sports Field

AirField Systems AirDrain: Could This be Your Solution to Golf Course Drainage, Collection, Retention and Reuse?

If you could irrigate significant portions of your golf course less frequently and then recycle and reuse both the leftover irrigation water and any excess collected rainwater, would your operations budget benefit? What if, in the process, you could also eliminate washed out bunkers and standing water on your greens?

These environmentally sound objectives form the premise behind AirDrain, a permeable, polymer geocell designed by AirField Systems for use on sports fields, green roofing, dog runs and kennels, playgrounds,  golf course bunkers, tee boxes and greens. Described by the company as “the advanced geocell for modern golf course construction,” the AirField Geo grid is designed to help golf course superintendents get more out of rain and irrigation water while it’s in use and then reuse what remains.

Company spokesperson, Michael Bean described the AirDrain as a simple, easy and long-lasting solution that affords golf courses a fast and effective strategy for bunker renovation or drainage solutions on tee boxes and putting greens. He explained that AirDrain systems

  • Can replace a clogged herringbone drainage system, thereby eliminating the need to rework the herringbone system. Just install over the top on a redo.
  • Provide so many additional square feet of drainage that fines (small particles or finely crushed materials) should never again clog your drain system.
  • Require only an exit drain or drains.
  • Can be used on bunkers through multiple sand cleanings or replacements.
  • Used for new bunker construction, require minimal site disturbance and far less excavation and disposal than many traditional means of bunker construction. Can be installed by existing employees easily.
  • Create 100 percent vertical drainage under the entire surface where the product is in use.
  • Are constructed of a fully recycled, content injection molded copolymer with the impact modifier metallocene, qualifying it as a “no-break” plastic.
  • Arrive on your golf course palatalized and easy to use, with snap-in male and female connectors on the 32 x 32 inch panels.


A Simple Overview of AirField Systems for Bunkers and Greens

Bunker Applications

Using AirDrain geo cells for bunker drainage requires filter fabric atop the AirDrain grid, bunker floor filter fabric below it, and appropriate bedding materials. Because the AirDrain geocell provides a one-inch void (which is 92 percent air) beneath drainage areas it brings gravity into play to pull water through, collecting water is easily routed to retention ponds or underground harvesting tanks.

Green Applications

When using AirDrain geo cells for drainage on tee boxes and putting greens, recommendations call for placing the geocell between layers of geotextile filter fabric below the sand root zone mix specified for your turf type (typically 10 to 11 inches). Above the AirDrain Geo cell drainage layer, a nearly perfect perched water table will occur without the use of peat moss or clay. This water table is essentially an aquifer above a region’s natural aquifer. The USGA described it as a “perched capillary fringe.” Available at the deepest root level, the water can be a critical difference maker by adding one to three additional days of plant-available water in comparison to the water availability offered by a gravel drainage profile.

Although these descriptions are highly simplified, they illustrate how streamlined the process of building an AirDrain drain field really is.

Comparing Airfield Systems AirDrain Profile with USGA Methods of Construction

The USGA’s interest in the AirField Systems AirDrain design began with a soccer field at Texas A&M University. The university’s soccer field, constructed in 2002 with an Airfield Systems design, appeared to have better drainage than the university’s football field constructed in adherence with USGA recommended design.

Motivated by the anecdotal findings regarding the two sports fields, the USGA and Texas A&M University launched a collaborative five-year study of the two differing drainage systems. In the study, researchers introduced variables including particle size and the porosity of the geotextile fabrics used. In summary, their findings showed that the water at the bottom of the test rootzones constructed with the AirField design was under less tension than the water in the test greens constructed with the USGA design, resulting in approximately a half-inch of increased water storage (one to three days more) over the amount retained by the USGA design.

You can read the full finding of this report here: Comparison of Putting Greens Constructed with AirField Systems and USGA Designs.

AirDrain Systems in Use Across the U.S.

Among the golf courses transitioning to AirDrain systems are:

Whispering Woods Golf Course

Built in 1971 and located in Whispering Pines, North Carolina, Whispering Woods incorporated AirField System’s AirDrain as part of a 2013 major renovation during which 18 brand new Champion Bermuda Ultradwarf greens were installed. By using the AirDrain design in greens and bunkers, Whispering Woods created rapid water movement and 100 percent vertical drainage while eliminating the problem of flooded bunkers.

The Greens Country Club

Located in Oklahoma City, this private golf course used its existing grounds crew to install the AirDrain system during bunker renovation. By working on the project at a pace that minimized impact to the course and avoided the need to hire outside labor, The Greens Country Club was able to control the cost and the downtime often associated with bunker renovations.

Bellerive Country Club

The historic Bellerive Country Club, located in St. Louis, was built as a nine-hole course in 1897, and relocated in 1955 to a new site selected by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. In 1965 the course became the ‘youngest’ venue to host the US Open. Host to many other prestigious tournaments, including the PGA Championship (1992), the U.S. Senior Open (2004), the BMW Championship (2008) and the Senior PGA Championship (2013), Bellerive will welcome the 100th PGA Championship in 2018. In 2006, the course underwent an extensive renovation under the supervision of Rees Jones, and in 2014, it added a 7600-square-foot practice green, using the AirDrain Bunker Drainage System for golf greens.


How Significant Could the Installation of an AirDrain System Be for Your Golf Course?

Every golf course is different, defined by topography, climate, design, rate of play and hundreds of variables that create unique conditions and challenges, not the least of which are budgetary considerations. The ideal solution for one course many not be the optimum choice for another. However, many turf mangers using AirDrain systems on their golf courses or sports fields have reported a stronger root system and as a result, healthier turf in addition to the benefit of improved recycling of both irrigation and rainwater for later use.

You can find out more about AirDrain by AirField Systems at and learn about other options for improving drainage in bunkers and greens by reviewing The Supplier Guide available at


If you have any questions, please contact AirField Systems to see just how easy it is at 405-359-3775