The bunkering is brought into the fairway to develop the strategy - the fairways remain wide for playability
This is a natural progression from yesterday’s blog. As I mentioned in yesterdays my goal is to make players think. A second goal I have stated quite a few times is to ensure enjoyment and playability for the average player. Most would suggest that there is an obvious contradiction, but in fact that is not the case. You can have your cake and eat it to with a couple of very carefully selected methods. One is the extensive use of short grass around greens and the other is wide fairways with interior bunkering.
Immediately you will question how I can employ fairway width and maintain the challenge and this is where the interior bunkering is crucial to my design strategy. Modern architecture tends to keep everything out to the sides whether to flank a target or create carry angles. As players got better, fairways have been narrowed and the bunkering has continued to pinch the landing areas. The improvement in the skills of the elite has not been matched by the average player, yet we’ve toughened up the courses with the evolution of modern design. This is a well and good if you are a skilled player, but where is the playability for the average guy – the majority of players I might add – when they can’t hit these narrow targets.
Throw in the situation of bad weather or high winds and the course can become close to impossible for the average player. Yet the answer is so obvious – give the average player back their width and draw the bunkering into the fairways. The target areas for a strong player remain between the bunkering. The playing area for the average player remains the width of the landing with them either playing away from the interior bunker or playing intentionally short. Although the reality is often they just swing away because they have no true idea of direction but they know intuitively that the odds of actually finding one of the bunkers is slim.
The interior bunker tightens the landing area without taking away the total playing width. It provides all the essential strategies and decisions for a good player, all while leaving the average player lots of room and confidence that they can get around and likely never lose a ball on that hole – which matters a great deal to their psychology and enjoyment of the game.
Since I believe in width, particularly when public play is involved, the use of interior bunkering will ensure that I can have both challenge and playability.