What if I refuse to rake the bunkers? I want you to read this, and then think for a second….and then leave your opinion. Before you jump to conclusions about the societal norms regarding “good bunker conditions”, just think for a second, what is the point of the bunker? I’m pretty sure we have lost sight of it’s purpose.
If Golf Course Owner Guy takes a few complaints a year, it’s never about the playing surface, it’s generally about the bunkers. Ten times out of ten, someone was in one and hit a bad shot. I’m still waiting for the day that when I ask if they were in one, and whether they hit a bad shot they say, “no, I was just walking by all 87 of them, and I thought I should give you my opinion.”
Bunkers are HAZARDS, maybe a better word is purposeful obstacle. They are put in places with the intent to force a decision of some kind. Take the right hand fairway bunker on #1, when we get a strong southwest wind, many people can get past it. When we have a north wind, you can’t get to it, and when there’s no wind, or you mishit the downwind shot, well… you will probably be in it. It’s placement is perfect.
There in lies the problem…you don’t respect that bunker. Did you know there is a bunker there? Matter a fact, you don’t even care that it is there, because a ball sitting in it, better be sitting in a perfect lie, or you are going to tell me about it. You don’t consider the wind, you don’t consider the strategy of playing around it, you don’t consider anything. You have forced me to “groom” your thinking right out of the game.
Early Scots Refuse To Rake
Ancient bunkers were nothing more than blowouts where grazing animals took shelter from wind. FYI, no one went out and raked them every day. These “bunkers” were not worth the risk. The lie could be fine, the lie could be bad, but it got the attention of early golfers. With balls that did not fly high and ground that was pretty damn firm, it was a problem. Today’s Tour Pros aim for the bunkers. Yikes! It’s way easier and more predictable than playing from deep rough.
Imagine if all 87 bunkers here were just awful. Imagine the curiosity you would have as you approach one of those hoping to see your ball sitting decently. Would you still take that chance hitting to a tight pin located behind one of those bunkers? Would you still get up and bash driver no matter what the tee placement or wind circumstance? Would matches be more interesting as golfers had to plot their way around the obstacles? Would golf be a little more about thinking, and a little less about strength?
Your Wallet When I Refuse To Rake
Do you know how much less I could charge for golf if I refused to rake them every day, spray weeds every month, re-edge them every two months, re-sand them every four years, and re-build them every 8 years? Do you know how much more fun golf would be if we allowed the “purpose of a HAZARD”, be meaningful again? Today…they have no purpose to the game itself. Currently they are a window dressing. A contrasted color on a green landscape, that helps provide depth perception and better frames landing areas.
I’m not saying I’m going to refuse to rake, but let’s allow the comments to flow. I want to hear why this will, or will not work? Tell me why it used to work, and now it could never work? Tell me why you like paying more money so that I maintain HAZARDS beautifully? Tell me why real golfers don’t complain about conditions, instead they allow for them.
I like the thought of avoiding the obstacles rather than playing my ball intentionally into a bunker. They should be a true hazard and I’m all for courses letting them be a hazard and putting the money into the greens and tee boxes.
Mark, it makes so much sense doesn’t it? Golf costs what it does because golfers have asked for all these things to be done. I clearly love the idea of strategy and I’m glad you do to.
I’m all for bunkers being unraked (as most of the course I play it seems like that already!) I do however appreciate being able to find my ball, so a little grass trimming around the edges would be nice. Not clean edged, just cut to rough length. And if you’re in a combo lie (grass & sand), time to get creative!
Another fan of the idea that bunkers are problems to avoid. It’s so simple…cost of golf goes down, strategy goes up, still haven’t heard from anyone who thinks golf needs to perfectly manicure the hazards. Thanks Chris for your input.
i have read that there is an effort among some of the sport’s organizations, including the USGA, to promote mitigation strategies – less mowing, less watering, less poisoning, more accommodations of wild plants and animals. Many of us would love the chance to go play in Scotland to experience the tradition of play on old style traditional courses where the rough is rougher (not saying Royal St. Patrick’s isn’t!), the sand is native, the fairways are patchy landing zones and not continuous carpet from tee to green, and the golf is more feral. Start by bringing this concept local, with let the traps be, thus another vote for no raking. Now if you can figure out how to keep a gator or two in the ponds, that will be another fun strategy factor.
Thank you Steve! You make all great points, and I still have not heard either through blog or in person, a good explanation of the counter point. What will happen to me if I choose to stop raking? Will golfers learn to like it, or will it simply result in diminished business, and bad word of mouth. By that point the damage is done, and my name is “mud”. So many things in golf could be different…