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

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5 hours ago, Golfingdad said:

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.

Exactly. Bunkers with finely maintained sand are as much a hazard as light greenside rough. Penalty is not much more than an nGIR.

Come to think of it our friends across the pond got it right with pot bunkers. Less footprint so less sand required and less chance of sand getting washed away. And damn, they seem like legit jail. 

Having said them white soft sanded bunkers are so.......welp, upscale. Great character value. They sure easy on the eyes. 😊

Edited by GolfLug

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11 hours ago, iacas said:

Grass them over. Eliminate them.

Several years ago, one of the oldest courses in our town planted legumes and fescue in several bunkers that grew a few inches high. These were genuine hazards to avoid. Very difficult to play out of. But "grass bunkers" were in the original course plans from early 1900's. Best, -Marv

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12 hours ago, iacas said:

Yes. I’d also be okay with:

  • Bunkers purposefully unraked. Just smooth with your feet. They’re hazards.
  • Grass them over. Eliminate them.

yeah, if a course feels they are spending too much money to maintain said bunker, they might as well just get rid of it

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To echo the comments of many, I'd pay a little more if the condition of the course was better, including the bunkers. Where I play most has to do with where my friends want to play. The course used to be a dog track, but a new owner has throws a lot of money at improvements and it's MUCH more pleasant now.

None the less, the bunkers are still an issue because they  were never built properly. They were just hollowed out with a bulldozer and sand dropped in them, so they don't drain properly and the sand tends to filter into the ground. that leaves them in their usually hard condition.

A lot of people at this course ground their club in the bunkers and chip out instead of trying to hit something resembling a blast.

Since I play Ping G700 irons with a very deep sole, I tend to avoid my SW or LW out of those bunkers. I have a Vokey wedge with a thinner sole and only 6* of bounce to chip out of those bunkers.

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2 of the last 3 courses my group played at did not maintain their bunkers well. It makes the course look really bad even if everything else is nice. They are a pain to get out of.

It’s very upsetting to see the pro’s on TV getting out of nice bunkers, and your score is getting trashed because of bad maintenance. It’s a bad idea. When you see bad bunkers, there’s a good chance the course is on its way out.

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In echo of what has been said, I like a course that is well presented...but hazards are hazards and would still play a course even if the bunkers were not "well maintained"....which is a matter of opinion on what that looks like anyway. 

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The problem with not maintaining a bunker is it just tends to become hard-pan.  Instead of that, consider it changing it.  Even a water body in that spot could be a better feature.

I am OK if there are no bunkers on the course, but maintain everything you have well.  Otherwise it makes me question why we are paying for it.

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29 minutes ago, pganapathy said:

Even a water body in that spot could be a better feature.

No.

Water is very bad.

 

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19 hours ago, Golfingdad said:

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.

I have to disagree, I think you are looking at it the wrong way. Sure they are a hazard, but all lack of maintenance does is makes them look like shit. Just from an aesthetic point of view either keep them up or grass them over. People already avoid bunkers, making them unsightly through lack of maintenance isn't going to affect playability of the course, its just going to make people want to play somewhere else.

2 hours ago, Slim_Pivot said:

2 of the last 3 courses my group played at did not maintain their bunkers well. It makes the course look really bad even if everything else is nice. They are a pain to get out of.

It’s very upsetting to see the pro’s on TV getting out of nice bunkers, and your score is getting trashed because of bad maintenance. It’s a bad idea. When you see bad bunkers, there’s a good chance the course is on its way out.

Exactly, keep them up or take them out.

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29 minutes ago, NM Golf said:

People already avoid bunkers, making them unsightly through lack of maintenance isn't going to affect playability of the course, its just going to make people want to play somewhere else.

This is exactly where I am torn.  How many people can honestly say that bunkers is even a portion of the reason one plays a certain course?  Wouldn't greens, fairways, tee boxes, rough, course layout all matter more? And really no two courses will have all those things be exactly the same and make bunkers the deciding factor.  If anywhere, courses with high rates, like $100+ fees, would get a noticeable response from poor bunkers.

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3 hours ago, Slim_Pivot said:

2 of the last 3 courses my group played at did not maintain their bunkers well. It makes the course look really bad even if everything else is nice. They are a pain to get out of.

I always find it interesting that a course can be in great shape other than bunkers and the bunker leaves a lasting image on the player.

There are two shades of maintenance here: the article seems to focus on the labor cost of maintaining bunkers.  I've rarely complained about that - usually the problem is lack of racking by previous golfers, not the maintenance staff.  However, a bunker, particularly greenside, without proper sand isn't acceptable.  I'm not talking resort course fluffiness, I'm talking about enough sand to hit down behind the ball without bouncing.

My home course before I moved took out several bunkers to save maintenance costs and replaced them with grassy mounds.  A few of these were fairway bunkers and it ended up making the course harder on one or two holes because the bunker prevented wayward drives from going OB.

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3 minutes ago, phillyk said:

How many people can honestly say that bunkers is even a portion of the reason one plays a certain course?  Wouldn't greens, fairways, tee boxes, rough, course layout all matter more?

I can't speak for other parts of the country but in my local experience,  if the bunkers are crap, the rest of the course isn't far removed. 

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3 hours ago, Slim_Pivot said:

It’s very upsetting to see the pro’s on TV getting out of nice bunkers, and your score is getting trashed because of bad maintenance. It’s a bad idea. When you see bad bunkers, there’s a good chance the course is on its way out.

How is it upsetting?  They play courses that are in very good standing, typically.  I know it's an exaggeration, but it sounds like you are saying any courses that pros don't play are bad courses and are on their way out.  If I go to Pebble Beach or TPS Sawgrass or where ever, I'd expect great maintenance, but I would never expect that quality or close to at other tracks we usually play.

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27 minutes ago, phillyk said:

This is exactly where I am torn.  How many people can honestly say that bunkers is even a portion of the reason one plays a certain course?  Wouldn't greens, fairways, tee boxes, rough, course layout all matter more? And really no two courses will have all those things be exactly the same and make bunkers the deciding factor.  If anywhere, courses with high rates, like $100+ fees, would get a noticeable response from poor bunkers.

Sure greens and fairways matter more, but as some mentioned when was the last time you played a course with superbly maintained fairways and greens and shit bunkers? If a course is allowing the bunkers to turn to shit, the rest of the course is sure to follow suit. All I am saying is bunkers don't matter that much in the playability of a golf course. Whether they are pristine white sand or rock hard and full of weeds the average hack isn't going to hit great shots or get up and down out of them all that often anyway. 

So I just think if a course's budget necessitates eliminating bunker maintenance, they should look to just removing bunkers altogether if for no other reason than to keep them from becoming eyesores. Why would anyone intentionally allow a part of a golf course to become overgrown and ugly?

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Unranked bunkers but with a local rule that allow you to relocate the ball in a radious of 1 feet, not closer to the hole. 
Just like what every one does in a practice bunker. 

Obviously i prefer to play in ranked bunkers but if this allows the club to stay in business then it would be ok.

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8 minutes ago, NM Golf said:

Sure greens and fairways matter more, but as some mentioned when was the last time you played a course with superbly maintained fairways and greens and shit bunkers? If a course is allowing the bunkers to turn to shit, the rest of the course is sure to follow suit. All I am saying is bunkers don't matter that much in the playability of a golf course.

In general I agree with you as almost all of my most frequent courses over the years have had bunkers that one would call irregular.  But there is one course near here that the maintenance is generally good but the bunkers (and there are a lot of them) are so bad I haven't been back- hard, bare dirt, no sand. Rare, but it happens.

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5 minutes ago, NM Golf said:

Sure greens and fairways matter more, but as some mentioned when was the last time you played a course with superbly maintained fairways and greens and shit bunkers?

Yesterday.  Course is typically in good shape tee to green, but bunkers are rather firm year round.  They are one of the bigger courses in our area.

7 minutes ago, NM Golf said:

So I just think if a course's budget necessitates eliminating bunker maintenance, they should look to just removing bunkers altogether if for no other reason than to keep them from becoming eyesores. Why would anyone intentionally allow a part of a golf course to become overgrown and ugly?

Definitely don't want eye sores. I like what @gbogey said, doesn't have to be good sand, just has to be enough to get the club underneath.  If I remember correctly, most courses think of adding sand when they are at 2in of sand left. 1in is when they really need to do something.

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