Spruce Pine’s leftovers fill bunkers at the Masters

“The Augusta National golf course’s most distinctive feature is the bright white sand in its bunkers.

“However, contrary to Augusta lore, that sand is not ‘feldspar sand,’ according to Drew Coleman, professor of geological sciences at UNC Chapel Hill.

“Feldspar is ‘dirty quartz,’ that is, quartz that contains other elements like aluminum and potassium. If you went to a beach in North Carolina, you’d find about 88 percent of the sand is quartz, while 10 percent is feldspar.

“The Spruce Pine Mining District in North Carolina is famous for its feldspar and quartz, and since the 1700s feldspar has been mined there. When they mine the feldspar for aluminum, they just discard the quartz. What we call ‘feldspar sand’ is a waste byproduct, Coleman said, and there’s likely not any feldspar in it.”

” ‘That’s why the bunkers are so white,’ Coleman said. ‘Spruce Pine quartz is the best in the world, and the quartz created from the feldspar mining process is so white and so pure.’

“More recently, the quartz has become more valuable than the feldspar, according to Coleman. The same stuff in those Augusta National bunkers is now used for silicon chips.”

— From “The bunkers at Augusta National are spectacular, but they are not ‘feldspar’ sand” by Mike Walker at golf.com (April 8, 2011)