One of the unintended consequences of Golf After Lockdown is unraked bunkers. I’m a huge fan – and I’ll explain why.
For a start, it’s one less thing you have to do during a round of golf and that can only speed the game up a welcome touch.
Rather more importantly, though, it’s restoring the element of jeopardy to bunkers that we modern golfers have largely forgotten.
Somehow, it has got to the stage where we golfers expect – make that demand – a perfect lie when we are in a bunker. And yet bunkers are supposed to be hazards. We don’t feel the same way about rough, and nor do we think that if we hit it against a tree that we have a right not to be tangled up in the roots.
During my rounds post-lockdown, I have grimaced as I have approached these unraked bunkers, fearing the worst. That’s just as it should be. I shouldn’t have hit it in there in the first place.
Better still, if you are a skilful sand player, then unraked bunkers offer an opportunity to demonstrate your prowess and gain a deserved advantage over your opponent or the field.
Just like a really tight lie does for the skilful chipper near the green. Or a hardpan fairway for the superior ball-striker with an iron in their hands from 180 yards out. Or a stiff breeze into and off the left for those able to flight a raking draw.
I say embrace the challenge and get creative. See it as an opportunity to show your skills. Work out how to play the chunk and run from a footprint. Experiment with what works best when there is no sand under your ball. And if you can’t get it close? Well, take your medicine or hole a decent putt to save the day.
Unraked bunkers are even better hazards when alongside fairways. What better way to create risk and reward scenarios? If they pinch in the fairway at a certain distance then there’s nothing to stop you taking the challenge on with your driver and sneaking past the bunker. Find the sand and even without a lip there is no guarantee you will be able to advance your recovery very far. But with a bit of luck and a lot of skill you might just be able to pull off a heroic recovery.
Sounds good to me.
Some golfers will doubtless insist that unraked bunkers look scruffy but I love the visuals. We don’t consider a beach to look imperfect because it has some footprints in it, do we?
To me, it falls in with the more naturalistic look to a golf course that I much prefer – whether it’s in the form of the kind of irregular bunker shapes so beloved of Dr Alister MacKenzie, waste areas, or tufty rough that you get on links courses in a dry summer.
Golf was never supposed to be a game of perfection. Unraked bunkers can take us back closer to the game’s roots.
Do you agree with Dan? You can follow him on Twitter here.
- Rules of Golf explained: What are your options in a bunker when there are no rakes?
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