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Braivo

Would You Mind Crappy Bunkers? Scrapping Bunker Maintenance Could Save Some Golf Courses.

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We went to the superintendent this past year with a list of bunkers we thought he could get rid of and not affect the playability of the course at all. He agreed and they are eliminating most of them this winter. 

I would like bunkers to be maintained, but if its an issue, then just get rid of them altogether. Nothing looks quite as shitty as a greenside bunker with a bunch of footprints in it.

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The last two courses I have been a member at the bunkers were/are horrible.  I would rather them be grassed over if they are not going to take care of them.  Some have been designated ground under repair just so they don't have to deal with them.  There is an unfair impact having to play out of them, and I understand everyone has to so it even's things out, but it's just ridiculous having to play out of a dirt pile.

I'm not the greatest bunker player, but I can get out of them, and this will be unpopular, but if I land in a bunker and it has the potential of breaking my wrist or damaging my club, I pull it out.  And no, I don't record those rounds for my handicap, I'll play from them if I have to, but that goes back to the unfair impact piece.

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33 minutes ago, DeadMan said:

If I remember correctly, when I played there in 2017, all bunkers on #2 were classified as waste areas (or whatever term in the rules was at the time), so you could do whatever you want in them. This was per a local rule. I'm guessing that local rule was not in effect, or changed, for the US Open. I can double check the scorecard when I get home, because I think it had the local rules on it. 

Interesting.  Did they provide rakes in the areas that were most bunker-like?   I remember that Dormie Club has no defined bunkers either, it was all played as "through the green", and they had no rakes.  I think I played there with Erik, Nate, and Vishal the same day you and Phil played #2.

I wonder if the decision to play the bunkers as General Area were made because it really IS a little difficult to tell where the limits of a bunker would be.  I'll be in the area for Thanksgiving week, and I'm sure we'll play one or more of the Pinehurst courses, we have friends who are members, so I'll keep my eyes open and report back.  Its interesting that at Pinehurst they didn't eliminate bunkers, they eliminated grass, with the end result of saving maintenance, chemicals, and water.

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1 hour ago, Patch said:

Now if bunker conditions are so bad, that hitting a ball out of basically hard pan, which can cause sparks, personal injury, or ruin a club, either take the unplayable condition, (penalty?), or declare it ground under repair when you get back to the club house. Most counter help folks will agree. 

You've played at my local muni? Lol. You can bounce a ball in these bunkers just like if you were bouncing a ball on a cartpath. They literally can't get worse.

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I would be absolutely fine with minimalist bunkers with very little sand. It's a hazard. My score would go up a shot or 2, but who knows maybe it will bounce out or roll through lot easier too. Less opportunities.

Bunkers don't hurt my feelings too much either way.

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19 minutes ago, colin007 said:

You've played at my local muni? Lol. You can bounce a ball in these bunkers just like if you were bouncing a ball on a cartpath. They literally can't get worse.

Maybe not your paticular muni, but I have played out of some bunkers that resembled an empty swimming pool. 😋

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1 hour ago, DaveP043 said:

Interesting.  Did they provide rakes in the areas that were most bunker-like?   I remember that Dormie Club has no defined bunkers either, it was all played as "through the green", and they had no rakes.  I think I played there with Erik, Nate, and Vishal the same day you and Phil played #2.

Yeah, I think most, if not all, of the bunkers had rakes. The green side ones definitely did. Ask me how I know that ... :whistle:

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4 hours ago, Braivo said:

Some interesting thoughts here. Bunker maintenance is a significant expense for courses, yet golfers seem to have a high standard for bunker quality. 

1. Would you be willing to change your expectations for bunker quality to allow more courses to stay in business?

2. Is bad bunker quality like aerated greens? A largely psychological things that really doesn't impact scoring? 

 

1. Often, bunkers are located in such a way as to add little strategic value to the hole and course. Some of our local mid and lower-tier courses would benefit by eliminating sand bunkers entirely.  I would totally support that decision and continue to play at those venues.  I do not support just letting bunkers cave in and grow into weed patches.  At least plow the thing flat and toss some grass seed on the ground.

2. With a sand/save percentage somewhere around 15%-20%, as long as one can make a swing and fashion somewhat of a sand shot, maintenance is not going to significantly affect my scoring.

 

My preference is to eliminate the bunkers or suck it up and maintain the the darn things.  Allowing bunkers to become weed-infested hard pan is not a good option.  

 

 

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2 hours ago, GolfLug said:

I would be absolutely fine with minimalist bunkers with very little sand. It's a hazard. My score would go up a shot or 2, but who knows maybe it will bounce out or roll through lot easier too. Less opportunities.

Bunkers don't hurt my feelings too much either way.

It seems a good portion of the responses here are all based on peoples current view of bunkers, and I think that's the wrong way to look at it.  Lack of maintenance would simply make them more of a hazard and the need to avoid them would be greater.  Strategies would change on some holes/courses and it would feel more like hitting into a water hazard sometimes depending on the lie.

Consider a lateral hazard at a course that you frequent that doesn't have water in it.  It likely still has rocks, unmowed grass, various other impediments that play into your strategy to keep your ball out of said hazard.  Unraked bunkers would just have to be treated a little more like this than they currently are.

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My "home" course (only remaining course in the county) as well as the next closest course have abandoned their bunkers to the weeds.  I believe this was necessary for solvency and it appears to be working. Their FB page suggests they are getting record plays this year, probably due to hosting a lot of weekly scrambles and other events.  

I play these abandoned bunkers as a hazard, but I have no idea what the course's intention is. There are no rakes and the edges are losing definition. The surface is almost completely covered in crabgrass or other weeds, with occasional pockets of sand visible.  I assume they weed wack them at least once a week. It doesn't bother me much (not that I have much choice). My preference would be to fill them in and grow real grass there. It would be nice to have at least one maintained bunker (perhaps on #18 or somewhere close to the shop to make maintenance easier) just so you can get a little practice for when you go play other courses.

 

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Bunkers aren't cheap to upkeep or maintain.....played in 2018 at a private club here...the member was also the finance chair....he told me they were going to redo their bunkers this year at a cost of $850,000.

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1 hour ago, Golfingdad said:

Unraked bunkers would just have to be treated a little more like this than they currently are.

If that was all it was.   I've seen a few in the area where the sand has completely washed away and the drainage tile is runs the length of the trap!   

Unraked bunkers would not bother me. If that was the norm, I'd play them and not complain.

 

I was told that the cost to maintain the bunkers is almost the same as maintaining the greens.  And since the sand get washed away often and the labor involved, bunkers became more expensive.    

Edited by dennyjones

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I would pay an extra $2 a round if it meant the course would have a couple of kids to go out in the morning and give a raking over all the bunkers to loosen them up a bit. Not a problem. However- the cost of designing PROPER and real sand bunkers (not the dirt filled garbage holes most munis end up with after a few months) is probably a real deterrent for most courses not rolling in the dough. In those cases, create "waste areas" with a sand that can withstand the abuse. Ground the club, etc... don't try and recreate the road bunker, spectacles or the Devils arsehole type of pot bunker. Lower lips and escape routes that can be used with lower lofted clubs for an easier escape for everyone.

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2 hours ago, DeadMan said:

Yeah, I think most, if not all, of the bunkers had rakes. The green side ones definitely did. Ask me how I know that ... :whistle:

I was just thinking, I don’t remember much of the waste areas/bunkers. I wonder why... jk im sure i found a few

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The bunkers at our course were renovated several years ago. The renovation included removal of some bunkers, and the reduction of size of others. I was playing with a member with an artificial leg prior to the renovation, and he drove a cart into a bunker to play a shot, and didn't hurt the condition of the bunker. My biggest complaint is that after the renovation, there have never been enough rakes around the new bunkers. And, I would mind poorly maintained bunkers.

Edited by Sandy Divot

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One of the courses we used to play did not have a lot of bunkers and just before we left to go join another course they filled in 1/3 of their bunkers and let them go to grass. The course we are at now the bunkers are fair to poor. A few years ago we told our pro that the bunkers wee pretty bad and we were told, DON"T GET IN THEM!!

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5 hours ago, Patch said:

Maybe not your paticular muni, but I have played out of some bunkers that resembled an empty swimming pool. 😋

That is funny, because at one of my locals, some bunkers resemble full swimming pools! I don't play out of those ones, or any at that course for that matter. I have lost balls into the water in these bunkers on multiple occasions. I just drop behind the bunker and write the 2 dollar golf ball off on my taxes.

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At our local course, we had a meeting some months ago. Management was going to raise green fees, and wanted input from league members. 

Members told management that we had no problems with raising green fees, just as long as some of that increase went to sprucing up the sand in the bunkers. Especially the "one" practice bunker that had been neglected for quite a while. 

Not only did management spruce up all the bunkers, they also gave a much better short game practice area. 

The fee increase for members, and local residents was $5 more to walk, and $5 more for a cart. 

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