|This massive 'waste bunker', running the length of the 16th fairway |
at Harbour Town, wasn't always this well-manicured.
"During construction, I was checking the course one day and spotted the local sewer patrol fighting a losing battle with a broken pipe near Harbour Town's border," Dye continues. "With raw sewage about to pour over the area, I suggested the workers pump it into a long, narrow depression that was to be used for a bunker. As the waste water filled the bunker, somehow the term waste bunker was born, and it has been used to designate such areas ever since."
This is an interesting piece of golf history. But, like other Pete Dye stories, I wonder if it's altogether true. Dye originally designed his 'waste bunkers' - at Harbour Town first then later TPC Sawgrass, and elsewhere - to be rough, rugged, unkempt, sandy areas that weren't raked, sometimes filled with gnarly clumps of grasses, and played through the green. When Harbour Town and Sawgrass originally opened for play (in 1969 and '83-ish, respectively), you could ground your club in Dye's 'waste bunkers'. So, the raw sewage story aside, 'waste bunker' still seems very appropriate to describe these sandy, unkempt areas that were literally designed be wastelands of sorts.
Regardless, Dye's original vision for those so-called 'waste bunkers' has disappeared at Harbour Town and Sawgrass - where The Players will tee off in a few weeks. Basically, the PGA Tour decided it would be more appropriate for tournament play to clean-up those 'waste bunkers', rake 'em and simply play 'em as bunkers according to the Rules of Golf.
You'd be amazed to see photos of Harbour Town and Sawgrass in their early days. Both courses were much more rough-hewn before the Tour mandated comparatively meticulous maintenance. I was fortunate to get a look at some very early photos of Sawgrass during a visit to Bobby Weed's office a few years ago. Based in Ponte Vedra, Florida (where Sawgrass is located), Weed's now a successful golf course architect in his own right. Back in the early 1980s he was working for Dye. Weed worked on the construction of Sawgrass and, for a stint, was the course's superintendent. In these old photos, Sawgrass is almost unrecognizable. The course's aesthetic transformation is basically the equivilant of turning Pine Valley into Augusta National; ironically, Dye originally designed Sawgrass to the the anti-thesis of Augusta.
Harbour Town's look has changed over the years as well, but thankfully these aesthetic transformations have not altered the fundamental brilliance of two of the game's most revolutionary golf course designs.