With the recent re-design of Pinehurst No. 2 it becomes a little unclear as to what’s deemed a bunker and what is a waste area. How will this vet out during play?
Two of the most romantic of golf course designers, the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw re-designed Pinehurst #2 by replacing 26 acres of rough with sandy, hardpan waste areas filled with pine needles and hand-planted wiregrass.
They used aerial photos of the original Donald Ross design as their guide, creating a new kind of windswept, “natural” look, a more strategic course, a widening of the fairways to create a kind of “old-world” golfing experience for this year’s US Open.
Of course, the signature of Pinehurst No. 2, those untouched inverted saucer greens, are as perplexing, maddening and dangerous as ever. But much more has been brought into question in this year’s United States Open Championship.
One of the “gray” areas still appears to be, “What exactly is a bunker and what constitutes a waste area?”
A bunker, according to the rules is:
A hazard consisting of a prepared area of ground, often a hollow, from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand or the like.
Grass-covered ground bordering or within a bunker, including a stacked turf-face (whether grass-covered or earthen), is not part of the bunker. A wall or lip of the bunker not covered with grass is part of the bunker.
The margin of a bunker extends vertically downward, but not upward. A ball is in a bunker when it lies in or any part of it touches the bunker.
Of course, grounding your club in a hazard is a penalty of 2 strokes. Here’s the complete definition:
Grounding the Club in a Hazard (Rule 13-4)
Grounding the club in a hazard is not allowed. Anyone who does it must assess themselves (or have assessed) a 2-stroke penalty (or loss of hole in match play).
Now it get’s a bit foggy when discussing “waste areas” as the rules of golf do not define such areas. Therefore, you can ground your club and/or remove loose impediments (but not so as to improve the lie of the ball)
According to USGA Executive Director, Mike Davis, a plan was “in place” to have a line of delineation between the two.
However, as of a few days before the tournament, players I see on TV seem still confused as to what is a bunker, what is a waste area, etc. and what (if any) is the official call on this.
The issue is, “Could a waste area be deemed a bunker and how would you know?” This is exactly was caused Dustin Johnson to potentially lose the 2010 PGA Championship. He never considered the area he was in to be a bunker so he grounded his club and was assessed a 2-stroke penalty, keeping him out of a playoff.
I’d be curious to know what kind of instruction sheets the players receive and how this is explained. Is a bunker simply a prepared area that is surrounded by 360 degrees of grass? Will they define it differently. We’ll see.