fbpx
how many wedges should you carry

Did the R&A bend on Hoylake’s ‘brutal bunkers’?

They caused carnage in the opening round and The Open organisers have now made changes to the way the bunkers are maintained

 

Was it the sight of a crestfallen Justin Thomas punching his ball from bunker to bunker on 18? Or perhaps it was Rory McIlroy finding the bottom of the same revetted hazard on the final hole, and failing to get out on his first go, that tipped the scales.

Royal Liverpool’s 82 bunkers once more dominated proceedings as the second round of The Open got underway, but it wasn’t because players were still slashing around in a desperate bid to escape.

Sky Sports showed footage of club greenkeepers hard at work before their reporter, Jamie Weir, said the R&A had “instructed greenkeeping crews to build up bunker edges this morning to allow more balls to roll back to the centre. Players felt they were too penal on day one”.

The issue was how they were playing flat at the bottom. That meant if the ball entered at pace it ran into the edge of the revetted face and planted right underneath it.

Nowhere was this seen more dramatically than that hazard on the left side of the green on 18, as some competitors tried to hit the par-5 green in two.

Modern bunker construction often sees a concave face, or an upslope, which encourages balls to return to the centre of the bunker.

The bunkers at Royal Liverpool were undoubtedly difficult. But as the opening round concluded, there were some who asked if they’d gone too far.

Architect Geoff Shackleford, writing on his website, asked if it was “proper links golf” if hazards had been “engineered to produce more morbid outcomes as a defence”.

Open bunkers

ALSO: Beware the bunkers! Scottie Scheffler names biggest dangers at Royal Liverpool

Hoylake bunkers have caused a stir at The Open

A counter-argument, of course, is scoring. Yes, there were disasters, but a significant proportion of the field was also under par. Some significantly so.

Shouldn’t the penalty for failing to find your target be harsh – to accentuate the risk-and-reward of making a strategic choice? No-one, to take 18 again as an example, was forcing players to attack the closing par 5 in the fashion some of them chose.

So did the R&A bend to the bunker barrackers? They issued a statement, saying they had made a change to the way they were raked.

“We would like to advise you of an adjustment we have made to the way the bunkers are raked overnight,” they explained.

“Yesterday afternoon the bunkers dried out more than we have seen in recent weeks and that led to more balls running straight up against the face than we would normally expect.

“We have therefore raked all of the bunkers slightly differently to take the sand up one revet on the face of the bunkers.

“We routinely rake bunkers flat at most Open venues but decided this adjustment was appropriate in the light of the drier conditions which arose yesterday.

“We will continue to monitor this closely for the remainder of the Championship.”

It’s a big decision to alter the way a course is maintained during a competition and will not have been taken lightly. It will be interesting to see what effect it has on the rest of the tournament.

What do you think of the decision to the change The Open bunkers? Is it justified? Let me know with a tweet.

NOW READ: Hoylake’s ‘brutal bunkers’ – the stars of the show

NOW READ: Everything you need to know about the 151st Open Championship

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

Latest Posts

2025 Open Championship tickets

The Open

How to get tickets for the 2025 Open at Royal Portrush

By

Read full article about How to get tickets for the 2025 Open at Royal Portrush
the open championship field

The Open

The Open Championship field: Who is playing in 2024?

By

Read full article about The Open Championship field: Who is playing in 2024?
how to qualify for the open championship

The Open

How to qualify for The Open Championship

By

Read full article about How to qualify for The Open Championship

The Open

Greg Norman ‘welcome to check’ ticket resales for The Open at Troon

By

Read full article about Greg Norman ‘welcome to check’ ticket resales for The Open at Troon
open championship sell-out

The Open

The Open at Troon is a 250,000 spectator sell-out

By

Read full article about The Open at Troon is a 250,000 spectator sell-out

LPGA

Brooke Henderson soars up Chevron Championship leaderboard as weather delay strikes

By

Read full article about Brooke Henderson soars up Chevron Championship leaderboard as weather delay strikes
charley hull wins

The Open

Could we see women entering The Open?

By

Read full article about Could we see women entering The Open?
Brian Harman WITB 2024

The Open

What’s in Brian Harman’s bag?

By

Read full article about What’s in Brian Harman’s bag?
paul casey the open

The Open

Would you want to win the Claret Jug… without the prize money?

By

Read full article about Would you want to win the Claret Jug… without the prize money?