Golf Course Bunkers

Having just been updating our project images I was struck by the different character of the many European Golf Design courses. These differences are particularly evident in the bunker styles which can come in all shapes and sizes. They range from small pot bunkers which are deep and round with steep faces, to large expanses of flat waste bunkers and many other types in between.

Bunkers are defined as hazards and are one element used by golf course designers to determine the strategic test of a golf course. They can be placed to direct play, to penalise wayward shots or to provide protection. They also have an important aesthetical value.

Bunker positioning has been a subject of debate ever since the earliest golf course architects. Alistair McKenzie, the foremost designer of his time, stated that “No hazard should be placed which has not some influence on the line of play of the hole. On many courses there are far too many bunkers“, while Donald Ross the other pre-eminent architect from the same era considered that “There is no such thing as a misplaced bunker“.

Bunker play requires a different approach depending on it’s location, shape and size, they are usually categorized as either fairway bunkers, greenside bunkers or waste bunkers. Commonly fairway bunkers tend not to be that deep and have a lower face which allows the golfer to advance the ball at least some way towards the hole. Greenside bunkers are usually deeper with a steeper face and are one of the most difficult shots to play in golf for the average player. Waste Bunkers are typically unmaintained natural sandy areas which may run alongside the fairway and could have rocks and vegetation within them. According to the rules waste bunkers are not considered a hazard so golfers can ground a club and remove loose objects from around the ball.

The style of bunkers is often influenced by environmental factors such as wind, rain and sun. Bunkers with high, flashed up faces can be a problem to maintain in areas which receive a lot of rainfall as the sand is often washed into the bases. Long, flat bunkers can be effected by wind whipping up the sand and removing it, while south facing steep grass faces in hotter regions might need additional irrigation to prevent stress damage to turf.

At European Golf Design we have designed golf course’s with every type and style of bunker and here are some examples:

  • Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, UAE
  • Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links, Ireland
  • Riffa Views, Bahrain
  • Papillon Golf Club, Turkey
  • Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor, Wales
  • The Montgomerie at The Dutch, Netherlandss