Golf Course Architecture - Issue 69, July 2022

63 EYEBROW ( E .G. BL INDNESS ) might have produced a better course – but not sold as many memberships. Personally I like trees as hazards, which is OK on a wooded or parkland site – but their slow gestation period precludes their use on a wide-open site. It would be an interesting exercise to create a great bunker-free 18 holes – there are plenty of great bunkerless holes, such as the first and eighteenth at the Old Course, the seventeenth on the West course at Wentworth being just a few examples.” The young American designer Jaeger Kovich cites the fifth at Royal Worlington & Newmarket in England as a classic example of a great sandfree hole. “It might be the best par three in the world,” he says, a view that was shared by John Morrison, the design partner of Harry Colt. “Only the perfectly struck shot has any hope of leaving the ball on the green; the 90 per cent good shot which is usually good enough to get a three at the majority of short holes, is no good at all at the fifth at Mildenhall,” Morrison wrote. Sand is, as we have seen, a very basic part of the golf architect’s bag of tools. It can almost be said that sand bunkers define a golf course. No other feature, except perhaps a f lag in a green, says ‘golf ’ so clearly as does a sand bunker. And, although there is much handwringing about how bunkers are no longer especially frightening to golfers at the highest level, there is no doubt that, for the vast majority, they still present a real hazard that is worth avoiding, yet at the same time does not spell immediate disaster in the way that water or out of bounds do. So, there is no doubt that, on the overwhelming majority of courses, they are here to stay. Equally there is no doubt that architects can benefit from thinking hard about alternatives to bunkers. Ground contour, as seen on courses like Sheep Ranch at Bandon Dunes, can be at least as good a hazard as a bunker, but where severe ground contour does not exist naturally (which is to say, away from the links), can contouring fill the same role as bunkers, without enormous and costly earthworks? Maybe not. The bunker may be a crutch. But if you cannot walk without it, a crutch is rather useful! GCA BUNKERLESS HOLES “ Ground contour can be at least as good a hazard as a bunker” On their Sheep Ranch layout at Bandon Dunes, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw decided to let the site’s natural contours do the talking Photo: Bandon Dunes Golf Resort