NCG's Golf Glossary: What is a bunker?

Don’t know your dormies from your doglegs? NCG’s Golf Glossary is here to help

Here at NCG we pride ourselves on being the publication for the everyday player, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to delve into the wonderful world of the golfing lexicon.

Sometimes the most obvious terms have the most interesting story, so you might find yourself an interesting conversation starter…

What is a bunker?

Bunkers (or sand traps) are shallow pits filled with sand and generally incorporating a raised lip or barrier, from which the ball is more difficult to play than from grass.

How would I use it in a sentence?

“He missed the green and his ball landed in a bunker”

What are the origins?

The origin of the word bunker itself is ascribed to the 16th century Scots wor ‘bonkar’, meaning a chest. The word bunker in golf didn’t appear in the Royal and Ancient rules of golf until 1812.

Early versions of the game of golf were developed on links courses where sand would blow over the courses creating ‘burns’ that ran to the sea. These were eventually shaped into the hazards that we know today as they put the sand in pits and named them bunkers.

It’s also said that bunkers could have been inspired by quarry pits in areas such as Aberdeen.

Any other business?

However, touching or brushing the sand with your club on your backswing is also a breach of Rule 13-4b. All breaches under Rule 13 incur a two-stroke penalty in stroke play and loss of hole in match play.

However, courses such Kiawah Island have a no bunker rule where players can ground their clubs when playing out of the sand.

If you remember at the 2010 PGA Championship Dustin Johnson fell foul of the bunker rulings when he grounded his club in a sandy area that the crowd at Whistling Straits had been standing in.

However, the rules officials determined that Johnson had grounded his club in a bunker and therefore was awarded a two stroke penalty.

Click here to return to NCG’s Golf Glossary

Previous article
Next article
Top