Tuesday, November 06, 2007

10 Things I Don’t Like - #2 Target Bunkers

The ideal bunker is one that you have to either fly or skirt it in order to gain a clear advantage on the hole. When you stand on the tee or in the fairway, you should be conflicted between the advantage that you could gain and the penalty that hitting in will produce. When you hit by or over you should get a thrill and when you hit in you should be terribly disappointed. It should be a bunker that once you’ve hit into it – you will steer clear for a while before you once again begin to flirt with it – up until the point where you hit it in again. This should be a continuous dance between the course and the player.

A target bunker is a point in the distance where a bunker indicates an ideal line but offers little or no strategic value. Many architects bunker the outside of holes in order to make the player more comfortable since the ideal line is so clearly defined – and player like that. Ever wondered why so many tour pro courses have so many bunkers.

Think about this – an architectural feature with no strategic value – something used to make the player more comfortable. I’ve already indicated that the ideal bunker should make a player “uncomfortable because of the decision and consequence. This is how an architect achieves not only strategy – but interest too.

The target bunker came with modern golf – Trent squeezed the landings for challenge – and the next generation of architects pulled the bunkers apart for playability. They liked the definition that bunkers on the inside and outside of the hole created – so they left the outside bunkers for definition. Since most are out of play intentionally, they are simply eye candy or targets. Think about this – there is no need to defend the outside of a dogleg since the hole plays longer from playing to the outside. The inside route needs is defending to complicate the desire of a player to take the shortest route. While there are a few exceptions to their use – in general – they are unnecessary. Throw in the cost to build and maintain them and you wonder why we have so many.

To Part 3


Robert said...

Photo thief! That said the bunkers on Oviinbyrd (the second photo) are all very much in play. The ideal shot brings the ball down the right side and avoids them, but if you want to go at the green in two, you need to try to avoid the bunkers on the left in the photo.

I see your point though. However, I can't say I've ever been bothered by target bunkers. Thompson seemed to use them some -- or at least they appear on some of his courses, don't they?

Ian Andrew said...


It's #17 at Taboo - the hole doglegs right and the bunker protects - well, nothing.

The hole hardly needs any definition beyond what was natural. Its a good hole - but I don't see the need for the fairway bunker.