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Braivo

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

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12 hours ago, Cartboy said:

I've been working at my course for 11 years.  For the first 8 or 9 years, the guy who was the original Superintendant led us to believe that he was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Then, the big shot who was developing a golf-mecca in our area hired him away from us, and, since that Superintendant was out of work, we got him.

That was the greatest thing that ever happened.  One of the first things he did was to bring in "better" sand. It stays fluffy longer and doesn't pack down as easy.  Plus, his guys/gal work it regularly.  Every now and then I actually hit a decent shot out of it.  I'd prefer to not have to, but I love the challenge, and a sandie makes you feel good.

He gets a lot out of a small crew, and our course is in the best condition it has ever been.

Reminds me of the time I played in a TST outing at Eagle Creek near Norwalk, OH. The bunkers had "sand" in them that I don't think many members here would consider sand! It was quite coarse, about halfway between sand and pea gravel! 

Whatever grade it was, it drained great and didn't pack down. You could still play an explosion bunker shot out of it after 2 inches of rain the prior afternoon and evening! 

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On 11/18/2019 at 8:03 AM, 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. 

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

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

Trails-1-bunker.jpg

How golfer expectations have driven up spending on bunker maintenance, made greenkeeping more difficult, and hurt the bottom line of many golf courses

 

This statement from the OP's post...."The earliest bunkers were natural: un-raked, unpredictable, full of footprints and debris and divots. They were genuine hazards; if you went in one, you couldn’t be sure what would happen next."

I would not have an issue if they were like I would envision the earliest bunkers.  The problem I would have with then not being maintained today is, at least in the beginning of unmaintaned, you have bunkers where you get sand so deep that you can plug a ball and maybe never find it.  I envision those earliest bunkers to be harder, more dirt like as opposed to this loose white stuff many prefer to see today.  A little layer of sand/loose dirt would be ok.  But, bunkers where you can walk in them and leave 2 or 3 inch deep footprints...no thanks...those would need to be maintained.  

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On 11/21/2019 at 6:51 AM, ghalfaire said:

As I remind myself when in a bunker, it is a penalty area and you shouldn't be here in the first place, so shut up and play.

A bunker is not a penalty area, it is a bunker. The rules for a penalty area and a bunker are quite different. 

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23 hours ago, RickK said:

This statement from the OP's post...."The earliest bunkers were natural: un-raked, unpredictable, full of footprints and debris and divots. They were genuine hazards; if you went in one, you couldn’t be sure what would happen next."

I would not have an issue if they were like I would envision the earliest bunkers.  The problem I would have with then not being maintained today is, at least in the beginning of unmaintaned, you have bunkers where you get sand so deep that you can plug a ball and maybe never find it.  I envision those earliest bunkers to be harder, more dirt like as opposed to this loose white stuff many prefer to see today.  A little layer of sand/loose dirt would be ok.  But, bunkers where you can walk in them and leave 2 or 3 inch deep footprints...no thanks...those would need to be maintained.  

I agree! There CAN be such a thing as TOO MUCH sand in a bunker. I've been in some of them, where you can sink in over your ankles in perfectly dry sand! Ridiculous! I've read David Feherty advocate for leaving bunkers unraked in order to introduce more of an element of chance into the game. He also acknowledged that there was no way the PGA Tour would go along with that. They demand a pristine surface upon which to practice their magic! 

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When I first started golf, a local course had very few traps I recall. It was still a difficult route with wild rough of varying length, narrow fairways, and rolling hills. 

The two or three traps it had were wonderfully maintained, deep and in front of greens on par 3s. I learned more on the topic of planning and playing a course there than I did on the courses that had many traps.

 

 

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On 11/22/2019 at 10:31 AM, NM Golf said:

A bunker is not a penalty area, it is a bunker. The rules for a penalty area and a bunker are quite different. 

Of course you're correct and I suppose I should have used more precise language consistent with the USGA rule book.  But I only meant that I was in the bunker because I hit a poor shot and was now paying the price, penalty if you will,  for such a shot.

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On 11/18/2019 at 9:03 AM, 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. 

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

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

Trails-1-bunker.jpg

How golfer expectations have driven up spending on bunker maintenance, made greenkeeping more difficult, and hurt the bottom line of many golf courses

 

The original bunkers were not maintained, and if the movie "Tommy's Honor" is to be believed, the old greens were about as long as today's fairways. Golfers would not tolerate 19th century greens, and I don't know why poorly maintained bunkers should be tolerated. 

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"Is bad bunker quality like aerated greens? A largely psychological thing that really doesn't impact scoring? "

Perhaps I'm late to the party here but when my birdie putt, tracking for the center of the hole, is bumped offline by an aeration hole that does impact my scoring.

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14 hours ago, Double Mocha Man said:

"Is bad bunker quality like aerated greens? A largely psychological thing that really doesn't impact scoring? "

Perhaps I'm late to the party here but when my birdie putt, tracking for the center of the hole, is bumped offline by an aeration hole that does impact my scoring.

I'd guess you make as many as you miss because of this, but that's for another topic.

I suspect the same with "bad" bunkers. Most amateurs probably wouldn't score all that differently. Things like being able to pitch instead of blast, and being able to ground your club, and simply adjusting strategy knowing how the bunkers are would all come into play. 

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Paging @David in FL:

Quote

“What I think would surprise many golfers is that there are definitely courses that spend as much—or even more—per square foot on bunkers as they do on greens,” George Waters told me. Waters is Manager of Green Section Education for the USGA and wrote Sand and Golf: How Terrain Shapes the Game. “And it’s golfer expectations that drive that spending.”

Source:

Trails-1-bunker.jpg

How golfer expectations have driven up spending on bunker maintenance, made greenkeeping more difficult, and hurt the bottom line of many golf courses

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On 11/25/2019 at 6:30 PM, Braivo said:

I'd guess you make as many as you miss because of this, but that's for another topic.

I suspect the same with "bad" bunkers. Most amateurs probably wouldn't score all that differently. Things like being able to pitch instead of blast, and being able to ground your club, and simply adjusting strategy knowing how the bunkers are would all come into play. 

Today I played a round at my home course where they are preparing the course for a tournament this weekend.  One bunker had a portion that had accidentally gotten wet when watering the green yesterday.  Made it hard underneath.  As dad and me were practicing and there were only two others on the course, I took the opportunity to play three clubs out of the greenside bunker.  Both the sand and lob wedge in traditional bunker type explosion shots didn't work as it didn't dig in and give me a cushion of sand from which the ball flew out.  Both got out but were essentially thinned.  I hit a PW and essentially picked it out fairly cleanly.  Because it was a fairly low bunker wall it worked with a chip type shot.

What this taught me was that I would rather not have badly maintained bunkers since you can't play a bunker shot to get out.  Removing badly maintained bunkers is a much better option for good play.  You do not want a situation where two people with the same lie, next to each other in a bunker need to hit different types of shots to get out

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On 12/5/2019 at 9:55 AM, pganapathy said:

Today I played a round at my home course where they are preparing the course for a tournament this weekend.  One bunker had a portion that had accidentally gotten wet when watering the green yesterday.  Made it hard underneath.  As dad and me were practicing and there were only two others on the course, I took the opportunity to play three clubs out of the greenside bunker.  Both the sand and lob wedge in traditional bunker type explosion shots didn't work as it didn't dig in and give me a cushion of sand from which the ball flew out.  Both got out but were essentially thinned.  I hit a PW and essentially picked it out fairly cleanly.  Because it was a fairly low bunker wall it worked with a chip type shot.

What this taught me was that I would rather not have badly maintained bunkers since you can't play a bunker shot to get out.  Removing badly maintained bunkers is a much better option for good play.  You do not want a situation where two people with the same lie, next to each other in a bunker need to hit different types of shots to get out

I don't know about that. It seems to me that a properly educated player should recognize the situation that they are in, and play accordingly. I've done so. I walked into a bunker that was rock hard from recent rain. I walked right back out and swapped my SW for a PW. 

Once I felt the texture of the sand with my feet, I no longer wanted to play an "explosion" shot out of there, I wanted to "clip" it nice and tight! That's exactly what I did. Many years ago I tried to play an explosion shot out of a deep, rain soaked, bunker and darnn near broke my wrist! 

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On 12/5/2019 at 9:55 AM, pganapathy said:

You do not want a situation where two people with the same lie, next to each other in a bunker need to hit different types of shots to get out

Why?  You can have 2 people next to each other in the middle of the fairway who opt to hit different shots.  There’s more than one way to skin a cat.  Nothing wrong with that at all.

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On 12/5/2019 at 9:55 AM, pganapathy said:

What this taught me was that I would rather not have badly maintained bunkers since you can't play a bunker shot to get out.

It's a golf course. Sometimes you just have to hit the shot that's required, not necessarily the one you want.

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On 12/8/2019 at 7:40 AM, Buckeyebowman said:

I don't know about that. It seems to me that a properly educated player should recognize the situation that they are in, and play accordingly. I've done so. I walked into a bunker that was rock hard from recent rain. I walked right back out and swapped my SW for a PW. 

Once I felt the texture of the sand with my feet, I no longer wanted to play an "explosion" shot out of there, I wanted to "clip" it nice and tight! That's exactly what I did. Many years ago I tried to play an explosion shot out of a deep, rain soaked, bunker and darnn near broke my wrist! 

 

On 12/8/2019 at 9:31 AM, David in FL said:

Why?  You can have 2 people next to each other in the middle of the fairway who opt to hit different shots.  There’s more than one way to skin a cat.  Nothing wrong with that at all.

 

On 12/8/2019 at 6:58 PM, billchao said:

It's a golf course. Sometimes you just have to hit the shot that's required, not necessarily the one you want.

The problem is not hitting different types of shots or adjusting.  The problem is conditions can vary from one foot to the next.  In the situation I was, it would well have been possible that the condition of the sand where the ball was and your feet were would be completely different.  It makes judging what you are going to do nigh on impossible.

I am OK with people hitting different shots from the same situation.  That is what makes golf great.

I am also OK with challenges.

What I have a problem with is conditions being bad due to insufficient maintenance.  I would rather have a course with other alternatives, even if it is a hazard, than an area that is supposed to be playable, but isn't.  To give you an example, my home course is built on a paddy field.  We still get land crabs digging holes on the course.  The understandable decision, a local one, has been made to offer relief from the crab holes on the course

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57 minutes ago, pganapathy said:

The problem is not hitting different types of shots or adjusting.  The problem is conditions can vary from one foot to the next.  In the situation I was, it would well have been possible that the condition of the sand where the ball was and your feet were would be completely different.  It makes judging what you are going to do nigh on impossible.

I disagree. It's just another factor to consider in taking your shot. It's not impossible, just something that has to be thought of.

When you stand over your ball in the rough, you have to consider how high the rough is, whether your ball is sitting up, or down, etc. Same thing.

59 minutes ago, pganapathy said:

What I have a problem with is conditions being bad due to insufficient maintenance. 

The thing is, and what this whole thread is about, is if you're used to having perfectly manicured bunkers, then it gets frustrating if you find yourself in a poorly maintained spot. I get it. But it's golf. You take what the course gives you and adjust accordingly.

I play all the time in bunkers of various conditions and I just deal with it. Sometimes I'm in someone's footprint. Sometimes you hit a perfect drive down the middle of the fairway and end up in a divot hole. It is what it is.

If not maintaining bunkers saves a course money to either stay viable and open for play or to be able to take that money and make improvements to course maintenance elsewhere, I'm all for it.

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2 minutes ago, billchao said:

When you stand over your ball in the rough, you have to consider how high the rough is, whether your ball is sitting up, or down, etc. Same thing.

The thing is, and what this whole thread is about, is if you're used to having perfectly manicured bunkers, then it gets frustrating if you find yourself in a poorly maintained spot. I get it. But it's golf. You take what the course gives you and adjust accordingly.

I play all the time in bunkers of various conditions and I just deal with it. Sometimes I'm in someone's footprint. Sometimes you hit a perfect drive down the middle of the fairway and end up in a divot hole. It is what it is.

If not maintaining bunkers saves a course money to either stay viable and open for play or to be able to take that money and make improvements to course maintenance elsewhere, I'm all for it.

The rough is not a perfect analogy.  The bunker you are assuming that what conditions you have for your feet are the same for where the ball is.  I agree that in an unraked bunker you might be in somebody's footprint or shot divot, but the idea is to avoid it being an issue because you can't afford to maintain it.  It becomes difficult to judge a lie because you are not allowed to touch the sand.  At least in a rough you can take practice swings and get an idea of how things will react.

I understand play the ball as it lies and the unfortunate breaks you might get, but setting up a course that cannot be maintained well is counter-productive.  For example, on my home course, we have a small water body in between two fairways which is at most a 5 foot diameter.  I think the same thing could be done with the badly maintained bunkers.  It saves maintenance, helps the course with less irrigation requirements and makes life easier for everybody.

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2 hours ago, pganapathy said:

The problem is not hitting different types of shots or adjusting.  The problem is conditions can vary from one foot to the next.  In the situation I was, it would well have been possible that the condition of the sand where the ball was and your feet were would be completely different.  It makes judging what you are going to do nigh on impossible.

One of the US Open qualifiers I played in had a rain storm pass through the previous night. All bunkers had some sort of water in it or very muddy. The maintenance spent the whole morning  driving in sand to fill greenside bunkers to make playable but the fairway bunkers were horrible (obviously due to weather not insufficient maintenance but the point remains). My ball ended up in a mud puddle in a fairway bunker while my feet were actually on nice enough raked sand, 2 very different conditions. Honestly while it sucks to have happen, I love the challenge. I put my 2nd on the green and made par. 

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