Friday, November 4, 2011

Road hole bunker.

Road hole bunker, circa 1924.
I was just searching for pictures in my overloaded "golf photos" file and came across this image (at left) of the infamous Road hole bunker at the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, circa 1924.

New Zealand's Scott Macpherson, who designs golf courses in collaboration with touring professional and fellow Kiwi, Greg Turner, has written an excellent book on the evolution of the Old Course. Looking at photos of the Road hole bunker over the years since 1924 makes me think it's evolution, alone, could be worthy of a book, too.

All golf courses are in a constant state of evolution. Needless to say, all of the bunkers at St. Andrews-Old, where golf has been played for some 600 years, have evolved. All, including the Road bunker, are now revetted (read: stacked sod walls); which is not my favourite bunker style. This 1924 version of Road hole bunker, with sand splashed on a grass face is much more appealing to me than the current stacked sod wall version (click here to visit Stephanie Wei's web site, where she's posted a relatively recent photo of Ryan Moore playing a shot from the same hazard, for comparison).

There are a number of reasons why so many links courses have gone to revetted bunkers. But, I'm not so sure those reasons are legit when we look at places like Bandon and Barnbougle Dunes, Cabot Links, and even Sagebrush, where courses are played in equally windy conditions that play havoc with bunkers, and the sand hazards look more like the Road bunker circa 1924 than the stacked sod wall bunkers which feature at a majority of the great links throughout the British Isles these days.

Maybe I'm wrong, though. Perhaps some 550 years from now it will be decided that the bunkers at Bandon and Barnbougle, Cabot, and Sagebrush should be revetted too. I hope not. 

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