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Bunkerless holes-how many?


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#1 James the Hogan Fan

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 05:57 PM

I was reading a thread about how one would improve Augusta, and someone said add a bunker to 14, currently the only bunkerless hole on the course. That got me thinking, on the courses you play, how many holes are bunkerless, and how do enjoy those holes relative to others? Also in your ideal course, how many, if any, bunkerless holes would there be?

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#2 davep043

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 06:20 PM

My home course has 5 holes without any bunkers.  Each one has some other "defense" in the form of OB, water, trees, severe slopes around the green, a really challenging green, or several of the above.  Generally, I like bunkers for the way they can be used to frame holes, to provide aiming points, and to provide strategic (or punitive) elements.  But its possible to do all of that in other ways, especially on a site with significant elevation change.  I don't really think about an ideal course, so I can't answer that question, but you can definitely have a really good hole without having a single bunker.

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#3 CheckJV

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 06:32 PM

Our 18 hole course has 3 holes without bunkers. We have been taking some bunkers out over the past few years. We could remove bunkers on 6 more holes and they would still be challenging and play just fine.  Ideal course has some bunkers.  It makes for interesting shots.

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#4 duffer987

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 06:33 PM

OP I see you are out in the East Bay. Metropolitan - which used to be my local course - has 3 bunkerless par 4 holes that are protected by some combination of length, wind, angled green, steep fall offs around green, and the green complex itself. In the case of #16 I think they used to have a greenside bunker but removed it. Two of them are 'easy' off the tee due to nothing in the landing area, but all 3 are just as interesting around the green as holes with bunkers.

I agree with Dave, in that I like to use them off the tee for lining up off of and in a lot of cases they do help make for a more aesthetically pleasing hole.
And again like Mr. 043, I couldn't apply any sort of formula to what would make up my 'ideal' course.

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#5 tatertot

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 07:01 PM

Used to belong to a course that had zero bunkers ... Built in the 70s, kept maintenance costs down. Course was tree lined with fairly small greens, not the best course, but after awhile, you didn't miss the sand. A lot of first time players wouldn't notice until you mentioned it to them.

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#6 raynorfan1

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 07:25 PM

We have bunkers on every hole. I can’t think of any that don’t improve their respective hole.

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#7 Hateto3Putt

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 07:28 PM

Although I never thought of it, I just played the whole course in my head...

Zero holes are bunker free.

Only two holes have tee shots without bunkers in play, every hole has green side bunkers in play.

Damn that’s a lot of sand!

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#8 CMCSGolf

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 08:24 PM

I think bunkers work well when there is no other way to challenge the player.  A course with as much land movement and severe greens as Augusta would be pretty good if you took out every single bunker.  For example, do the bunkers on 16 help in any way?  If you're right or long, that chip is so hard coming down the slope.  The bunker in front just keep balls out of the pond.  

Similarly, the extremely penal pot bunkers at St. Andrews fit the course because the ground is pretty flat on a macro scale.  How do you keep a player from playing to the optimal side of the fairway to approach a pin?  Put a pot bunker there. I guess my ideal number of bunkers (in theory) is zero because I could be challenged by other features like ground slopes.  In practice, good bunkers make you think about the shot more before you hit.  So if the bunker isn't making you rethink a shot or at least influencing a decision, it's probably not a good one.

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#9 GTgolf

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 09:34 PM

We just had about a dozen fairway bunkers removed from the course.

Every hole has bunkers in play.

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#10 jvincent

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 10:01 PM

View PostHateto3Putt, on 05 December 2018 - 07:28 PM, said:

Although I never thought of it, I just played the whole course in my head...

Zero holes are bunker free.

Only two holes have tee shots without bunkers in play, every hole has green side bunkers in play.

Damn that's a lot of sand!

Very similar to my home course. Bunkers on every hole, only one has no bunkers in play off the tee. It makes up for it with OB left and trees right.


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#11 robleighlefty89

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 05:28 AM

There are a few fine examples of courses with no bunkers at all over here in the UK; Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club (East Sussex) and Berkhamsted (Hertfordshire).
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#12 jwellefson1

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 07:51 AM

My home course has bunkers on every hole, but some of them are not really in play. Now if you ask anyone in Northern VA if it's one of the better courses in the area they'd say no, so I think that bunkering can add to a course substantially, but another bunker isn't going to make ANGC any more of an incredible course.
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#13 davep043

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 08:04 AM

View Postjwellefson1, on 06 December 2018 - 07:51 AM, said:

My home course has bunkers on every hole, but some of them are not really in play. Now if you ask anyone in Northern VA if it's one of the better courses in the area they'd say no, so I think that bunkering can add to a course substantially, but another bunker isn't going to make ANGC any more of an incredible course.
I'm in Northern VA, which course is it?

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#14 Baitkiller

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 08:17 AM

You could remove 80% of the bunkers at my course and never miss them. There is severe water trouble every single hole plus trees, waste areas and elevated multi tier greens. And yes, bunkers every hole without fail. So why did they just put in a 50 foot long bunker down the left side of #1 fairway that starts 230 yards off the mens tee? Genius! Oh yeah, they also changed a 440 yard par 4 into a par 5 on the card. I hope the place gets re rated soon.

Edited by Baitkiller, 06 December 2018 - 08:19 AM.

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#15 James the Hogan Fan

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 08:29 AM

View Postduffer987, on 05 December 2018 - 06:33 PM, said:

OP I see you are out in the East Bay. Metropolitan - which used to be my local course - has 3 bunkerless par 4 holes that are protected by some combination of length, wind, angled green, steep fall offs around green, and the green complex itself. In the case of #16 I think they used to have a greenside bunker but removed it. Two of them are 'easy' off the tee due to nothing in the landing area, but all 3 are just as interesting around the green as holes with bunkers.

I agree with Dave, in that I like to use them off the tee for lining up off of and in a lot of cases they do help make for a more aesthetically pleasing hole.
And again like Mr. 043, I couldn't apply any sort of formula to what would make up my 'ideal' course.

Yeah I was thinking about Callippe myself, where the bunkerless hole is #11, that straight uphill one with drops to both sides and a blind green. Also lake chabot, which has on the order of 8-10 bunkers for the full course but brutal elevation swings as its defense.

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#16 jwellefson1

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 08:54 AM

View Postdavep043, on 06 December 2018 - 08:04 AM, said:

View Postjwellefson1, on 06 December 2018 - 07:51 AM, said:

My home course has bunkers on every hole, but some of them are not really in play. Now if you ask anyone in Northern VA if it's one of the better courses in the area they'd say no, so I think that bunkering can add to a course substantially, but another bunker isn't going to make ANGC any more of an incredible course.
I'm in Northern VA, which course is it?

Herndon Centennial, it's not a bad course by any means but not up there with the Stonewalls and Westfields at all.
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#17 davep043

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 09:43 AM

View Postjwellefson1, on 06 December 2018 - 08:54 AM, said:

View Postdavep043, on 06 December 2018 - 08:04 AM, said:

View Postjwellefson1, on 06 December 2018 - 07:51 AM, said:

My home course has bunkers on every hole, but some of them are not really in play. Now if you ask anyone in Northern VA if it's one of the better courses in the area they'd say no, so I think that bunkering can add to a course substantially, but another bunker isn't going to make ANGC any more of an incredible course.
I'm in Northern VA, which course is it?

Herndon Centennial, it's not a bad course by any means but not up there with the Stonewalls and Westfields at all.
I've always liked Herndon, when I was playing public courses I felt like it was generally in good shape, and challenging enough.  Certainly the newer upscale public courses have surpassed it, but for the price its a really good place to play.

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#18 _Red_

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 10:03 AM

Three bunkerless holes on my home course.

They all had at least one bunker in the past.

On two of the holes natural contours are the defence.  Both those holes have narrow greens and one side you absolutely can't miss on.

The other bunkerless hole was easy before and it's easier now.


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#19 duffer987

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 10:35 AM

View Postrobleighlefty89, on 06 December 2018 - 05:28 AM, said:

There are a few fine examples of courses with no bunkers at all over here in the UK; Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club (East Sussex) and Berkhamsted (Hertfordshire).
Royal Ashdown is a great track. Obviously going in you know it's a bunkerless course, but it's a cliche - allbeit a true one - that you don't really notice the lack of bunkers once you are playing. It's just a bunch of solid golf holes, up and down and around some hills.

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#20 J_Birdie

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 12:44 PM

The new course around my area has almost no bunkers and the easiest holes on the course are the bunkered ones!

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#21 Augustok

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 12:51 PM

We have 1 hole without bunkers.  I’m told that is a Conald Ross trait.

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#22 davep043

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 01:14 PM

I was trying to remember bunkerless holes from my various golf travels, and a few come to mind:
#14 at Royal Dornoch
#11 at Ballybunion Old (I think)
#12 at Tralee
#4 and 5 at Lahinch
#18 at the Old Course
I know there are more, but I can't see how a bunker would improve any of these.  On the other hand, they're the exception on each course, not the norm.

Edited by davep043, 06 December 2018 - 01:19 PM.


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#23 msd71

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 08:18 PM

1 without bunkers at my club.  When I lived in Raleigh there was a course with no bunkers at all.  Pretty sure it's closed now.

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#24 averysdad

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 08:37 PM

Here’s a weird one....There’s a course  called Tobacco Road close to Pinehurst that has zero bunkers....but they have sand on every hole. They call them waste areas as you drive the carts thru almost all of them as you work your way thru the course. If you ever played there you’d know what I mean. Heck of a track...

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#25 thejuice

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 10:01 AM

I think the best designed courses are the ones that put hazards in play to affect the golfers options, not just because.  I've played courses with very few bunkers that are just as hard as courses with them scattered everywhere.  Grass bunkers, water hazards, mounds, sloping fairways and greens, very large greens, and tree-lined fairways can make for just as much challenge as a bunker shot.  Honestly, sand shots don't scare me like they do some.  I'd much rather have a bunked lined fairway than a tight-chute type tree-lined tee shot into the wind with water left and OB right.  Now that's scary!!!!

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#26 cxx

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 10:08 AM

I used to play a low maintenance course.  The key was that every hazard was really in play.  Too many courses use bunkers for framing the hole visually. Not really the best use of resources.  This course put those resources in the greens, where they belonged.

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#27 Bluefan75

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 10:15 AM

This is an interesting question.  We've had several bunkers removed because they "weren't in play."  Except I've found that area several times(it's still obvious where a bunker was.)  Things are in play for the longer hitters, but apparently we represent a small percentage of the members.  

One thing that bunkers sometimes do though is catch balls that would go OB.  We have one green in particular where the back of it is pretty close against the OB stakes.  one of the bunkers left has been taken out, and balls that used to stay in that bunker bounce out of there and disappear.  I agree that framing a hole is a poor use for a bunker due to the cost it brings in(Arthur Hills loves using them to give aiming points), but you have to be careful not to get too in love with removing bunkers and removing the strategy in doing so.

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#28 mci711

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 01:40 PM

View Postaverysdad, on 06 December 2018 - 08:37 PM, said:

Here’s a weird one....There’s a course  called Tobacco Road close to Pinehurst that has zero bunkers....but they have sand on every hole. They call them waste areas as you drive the carts thru almost all of them as you work your way thru the course. If you ever played there you’d know what I mean. Heck of a track...

I was going to say the same thing. It is a technicality, but The Ocean Course is the same way. Obviously, not what OP was going for though haha.

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