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Mark Bourgeois

Several posts on that thread have noted the role wildlife and changes in dune structures played in the origins of bunkers.

I accept this happens, but can't quite accept sheep, rabbits or sandslides as responsible for the strategically-placed bunker.

Bugs Bunny and Sean from Wallace & Gromit excepted, surely rabbits and sheep can't be that smart!

I have considered a better explanation the one put forth by Wethered and Simpson in "The Architectural Side of Golf."

They write the formation of bunkers in the second age of golf, the "Feather Age" (when golf moved off the ice and onto the shores of Scotland), was the product of repeated play to a spot:

"If a ball fell into a difficult lie or reposed on a patch of blown sand, the efforts to dislodge it would have the effect of widening the breach.  In the course of time, as other similar misfortunes followed, a broad hazard of a purely natural formation would make its appearance, more cunningly planned probably by nature than in later days by any deliberate forethoughts on the part of the Green Committee."

This argument has the ring of authenticity.  It provides a logical explanation for the strategically-placed bunker.  It has the added advantage of simplicity, and the simplest answer often is the correct one. Surely the most-mischievous bunkers on our oldest links owe their origins to golfers!

The idea that sheep, rabbits or sandslides would have carved out those bunkers that are strategically placed seems a little far-fetched, unless you accept the "monkeys at a typewriter" argument: there are so many bunkers created that through random chance a few turned out strategic to the play of the hole.

How many bunkers would sheep and rabbits need to create for enough strategic bunkers to be created? Would the course first look like the moon?

Nowhere can I find Wethered and Simpson mention sheep or rabbits in the context of bunkers.  (They do refer to sheep and rabbits as "greenkeepers," though.) On the other hand, other than Wethered and Simpson, I can't recall coming across this explanation, which makes me think maybe they're wrong.  It's always sheep, sheep, sheep -- and now rabbits!

Any support for the Wethered and Simpson position out there?

Mark

Andy Hughes

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Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2007, 10:14:51 PM »
I am not sure how many bunkers there would have to be initiallyfor some percentage to end up being considered 'strategic' at an older links course.  
Really, I am not sure how many bunkers are all that strategic--maybe some where 80 years ago and have lost relevancy as distance has marched on, or some were irrelevant for Braid but relevant for Tiger now.  
Or, maybe some that were rarely entered were filled in years ago, and new ones created or old ones moved intentionally as architects have left their mark.

I guess this means I fall in the 'monkeys with typewriters' camp--though I confess there is some logic to Simpson and Weathered's explanation and would not be at all surprised if both were right.  
How's that for talking out of both sides of my mouth?  ;)
"Perhaps I'm incorrect..."--P. Mucci 6/7/2007

Tom_Doak

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Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2007, 11:37:30 PM »
Mark:

I promise you that I have seen small bunkers made by sheep and rabbits at Westward Ho! in England, and some other common-land courses.  But usually the greenkeeper fills them back in as fast as they are made.

Tony_Muldoon

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Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2007, 01:37:48 AM »
"If a ball fell into a difficult lie or reposed on a patch of blown sand, the efforts to dislodge it would have the effect of widening the breach.  In the course of time, as other similar misfortunes followed, a broad hazard of a purely natural formation would make its appearance, more cunningly planned probably by nature than in later days by any deliberate forethoughts on the part of the Green Committee."
Interesting quote Mark and I would agree on it's merits.   I just never considered that the sheep and rabbits were starting the holes with methane. ;)
Let's make GCA grate again!

Andy Hughes

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Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2007, 08:29:59 AM »
OK, so Mark has me intrigued with this one.  I started hunting online for nice maps of the Old Course and found this for the 3rd hole:


Now, there's lots of bunkers there and I don't remember the course at all well enough, but are many of those 13 bunkers strategic? Or do they seem like spots where players repeatedly ended up--I can easily envision that happening in collection areas. Is that the case here?
"Perhaps I'm incorrect..."--P. Mucci 6/7/2007

Eric Franzen

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Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2007, 08:42:18 AM »
Robert Hunter writes about this in "The Links"

I am told, although it seems a bit incredible, that where divots are not carefully replaced and many such wounded spots are long neglected, a big wind may at times carve out a bunker. It is a tradition that this is what happened at St Andrews and that it explains why many of the sand-traps are on the direct line to the hole.

And

From the point of view of golf course architecture this brings up some interesting questions. Should we select those portions of our fairways where we find the mist divots and cut our bunkers there? Should we place our hazards in those choice positions from which the best golfers would like to play their shots? One would hardly venture to suggest that.

TEPaul

Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2007, 08:57:31 AM »
Mark:

My feeling is back in that time that Wethered and Simpson mentioned golf was in a totally different state than we think of today.

Essentially it was before any kind of man-made architectural planning at all, before any kind of construction, any kind of maintenance, seeding etc.

They did not mow any grass because there was no way to do that. Matter of fact, golf was generally played in the winter because in the summer it grew too long to play effectively.

The grass areas were sort of natural "swards" of solely a hardy form of bent and fescue because those two grasses were about the only grass that could grow in that environment the soil was so acidic. When I say it was hardy that is not to say it was tough enough to always withstand the traffic of golfers and other things---it probably wasn't and was probably torn up pretty easily. Those natural swards (grass areas) were also totally naturally arranged and had nothing to do with any kind of architecturally or golf related "strategy".

All those things obviously contributed to sand areas (bunkers, whatever) from appearing here and there.

For us to think any of that was actually "strategically" planned and executed and purposefully constructed to suit the "strategic" play of golfers would be pretty foolish, in my opinion.

Golf just hadn't gotten to that point in that time and the entire thought and practice of man-made and man-planned architecture was still a long way off.

What golf was back then was something of a form of a "path of least resistance" recreation.


JESII

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Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2007, 10:08:14 AM »
But isn't it clear (if we are to take this at face value...that bunkers evolved naturally from golfer wear) that bunkers have evolved in the most strategic places? eg...right where the most people hit the ball...

I would think W.C. Fownes would agree with that based on the little I know of how he modified his course over the years...adding bunkers when he saw a player gain an advantage from driving it some place not presently "protected".

Peter Pallotta

Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2007, 10:29:52 AM »
Really interesting thread. Off the TE-JES exchange, it's almost as if it was the random acts of nature that helped to clarify (or bring to consciousness) the still-developing concepts of strategic design for the early architects. If so, it's no wonder that those architects that immediately followed them would have such high regard for what appeared natural in their designs (if that was in fact the case).  

Lots of "ifs" - just thinking out loud.

Peter

Mark Bourgeois

Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2007, 10:58:53 AM »
So now it's Wethered, Simpson, Hunter v. Wallace & Gromit.

Andy Hughes, one way to check would be to figure which tee was in play and then draw out the length of the average drive of the time.

Tom Paul, interesting to note that a) turf conditions would have allowed gashes to appear rather easily, and b) it was a winter game, presumably the turf could not have recovered as quickly plus the winds would have been higher and more scouring.

An idle conjecture: if modern agronomy preceded the development of the game, would bunkers have existed at all? Or would divots, bunny holes, etc. have been fixed immediately? How might bunkers have developed?

Mark

Andy Hughes

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Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2007, 11:01:10 AM »
Quote
But isn't it clear (if we are to take this at face value...that bunkers evolved naturally from golfer wear) that bunkers have evolved in the most strategic places? eg...right where the most people hit the ball...

JES, I don't think it's clear at all.  For starters, I am not sure that the place most people may hit the ball on a particular hole has any relation to a strategic location. But I might well misunderstand your meaning there

Also, look at the picture of #3 at the Old Course. There are bunkers to the left and to the right of the fairway--I would have to assume that either one or the other would be considered the 'strategic' side.  

In my gut it seems to me that there would be far more bunkers in the fairways themselves rather than the more common flanking bunkers if bunker genesis was golfer divots one after the other were the cause. Or maybe I give golfers too much credit for accuracy  ;)
"Perhaps I'm incorrect..."--P. Mucci 6/7/2007

Tony_Muldoon

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Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2007, 11:05:38 AM »
You just have to think of gathering bunkers on a links course to accept this theory.  I remember watching Tiger v  Olazabal on the TOC and it was amazing how frequently the two of them would drive to the same hollow on the fairway.  Mark did specify 'strategically placed' bunkers in his opening post and it was these ones that occupied the original authorís thoughts.  From this I would deduce that some bunkers became famous because of their position  and not just their size or depth?
Let's make GCA grate again!

JESII

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Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2007, 11:09:23 AM »
AHughes,

Can a green not reward an approach from different positions depending on the wind and hole location of the day? I think it can.

Never been to TOC, so cannot speak on #3 more than to say the image you posted looks very much like right edge to right pins and left edge to left pins is very sensible.

Andy Hughes

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Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2007, 11:31:54 AM »
Quote
Andy Hughes, one way to check would be to figure which tee was in play and then draw out the length of the average drive of the time.

Mark, if I am following you correctly, then one would also need to know when specific bunkers came into being and disappeared as well. For example, to beat on the map of #3 one more time, there is a string of 3 bunkers up the right edge of the fairway---perhaps they came into being one at a time as players got longer. But if the second or third one existed first, it might put a crimp in this line of thought.
"Perhaps I'm incorrect..."--P. Mucci 6/7/2007

JESII

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Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2007, 11:35:30 AM »
Might be a way to track climate change as well...as the atmosphere warmed and the the ground firmed, the little pill went further and further...

Andy Hughes

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Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2007, 11:59:21 AM »
Quote
Can a green not reward an approach from different positions depending on the wind and hole location of the day? I think it can.
Good point. And I may be wrong about this, but I believe the best approach is almost always from the right side here. But I could well have that wrong

Setting that aside though, I still am struck by the paucity of bunkers generally in the middle of fairways whether the creation was due to animals or ever-growing divot scrapes.

Quote
Might be a way to track climate change as well...as the atmosphere warmed and the the ground firmed, the little pill went further and further...
;D

Except we were all so worried about global cooling until a few years ago. Its all so confusing!
« Last Edit: February 23, 2007, 11:59:51 AM by AHughes »
"Perhaps I'm incorrect..."--P. Mucci 6/7/2007

TEPaul

Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2007, 12:35:33 PM »
"An idle conjecture: if modern agronomy preceded the development of the game, would bunkers have existed at all? Or would divots, bunny holes, etc. have been fixed immediately? How might bunkers have developed?"

Mark:

Not an idle conjecture at all, even though the answer may be hard to pinpoint.

But I think if it was pinpointed at all it would tell us more of what we need to know and appreciate better----and that is just how little understood the entire evolution of golf and its various components really is. For starters, I doubt one in 1000 appreciates how simple and rudimentary things once were in golf in Scotland.

And the state of golf agronomy in that time and place so long ago is surely part of it, probably a huge part of it. But the fact that one couldn't transport that original Scottish linksland agronomy out of Scotland when golf first migrated out of Scotland hundreds of years after it began there, is an even greater part of understanding the evolution of golf and architecture world-wide.

Mark Bourgeois

Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2007, 12:51:22 PM »

Setting that aside though, I still am struck by the paucity of bunkers generally in the middle of fairways whether the creation was due to animals or ever-growing divot scrapes.


That's a good point and I can't think up a simple or elegant explanation other than topography of the ground / no collection areas.

Mark

Mark Bourgeois

Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2007, 01:09:37 PM »

And the state of golf agronomy in that time and place so long ago is surely part of it, probably a huge part of it. But the fact that one couldn't transport that original Scottish linksland agronomy out of Scotland when golf first migrated out of Scotland hundreds of years after it began there, is an even greater part of understanding the evolution of golf and architecture world-wide.


Yes! And not just agronomy, but the fact it was a winter game, played in a time and place where winters were cold, dry, and windy.  Not simply because there was business to take care of during the growing months, but without dormant turf it would have been a vastly different game, huh?

{Bit of a ramble here: It does give one thought, the spread of the game to parts distant.  Given the wide variety of conditions in geographies to which the game spread, how much of the interest in these non-linksland areas is down to things like architecture, and how the game was played on the links, and how much down to other aspects, like the mental challenge? Is there one ideal, like "firm and fast" or "ground game," or is it misguided to attempt that outside the golf equivalent of what the French call "terroir" (climate, soil)?}

And the origins of bunkers are so varied; it can't just be down to sheep and rabbits, there must have been significant interactions / involvement from man.  A golf course is not a natural environment, it's a built environment.  There's a bunker on the Old Course called "Shell," and Ian Andrew in his blog says the origin of the Road Hole bunker possibly was down to townsfolk digging shells there, and that was close to town.  Was there a bunker already there? Ian implies there was, but what form did it take, and who / what started it?

It's in a collection area; could its evolution be down to repeated play, followed by townsfolk, followed by Allan Robertson?

Funny, but the more challenging the provenance the more interesting the story! Today it's just down to, "put a bunker there."

Wouldn't it be interesting to start with a patch of linksland today, cut a few holes, and see what developed?

Mark

TEPaul

Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2007, 01:44:10 PM »
"{Bit of a ramble here: It does give one thought, the spread of the game to parts distant.  Given the wide variety of conditions in geographies to which the game spread, how much of the interest in these non-linksland areas is down to things like architecture, and how the game was played on the links, and how much down to other aspects, like the mental challenge? Is there one ideal, like "firm and fast" or "ground game," or is it misguided to attempt that outside the golf equivalent of what the French call "terroir" (climate, soil)?}"

Mark:

i don't understand what you mean here or even what you're asking.

TEPaul

Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2007, 01:49:24 PM »
"And the origins of bunkers are so varied; it can't just be down to sheep and rabbits, there must have been significant interactions / involvement from man.  A golf course is not a natural environment, it's a built environment."

Mark:

That depends whether you're talking about the beginnings of golf or the beginnings of man-made golf architecture.

The fact is the one preceded the other by literally hundreds of years. It was not until right about 1850 that man began to really build things in a golf architectural context as we know it and think of it today.

Before that golf was pretty much what Max Behr referred to as "wild" golf---eg golf played in an almost totally natural environement the makeup of which was so unique compared to almost anywhere elsewhere.

The thing that most don't realize about the original linksland is that it was the most remarkable coming together of a number of fascinating and diverse factors not found elsewhere in the same combination and with the same timing.

In a sense it was something like a five-way accident that allowed golf to happen in the first place the way it did in the Scottish linksland.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2007, 01:56:19 PM by TEPaul »

BCrosby

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Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #21 on: February 23, 2007, 01:57:48 PM »
The goat, sheep, rabbit and divot theories have always sounded bogus to me.

No bunker is inherently strategic. Bunkers are strategic only in relation to the demands of the preceding or following shots. Which suggests that somebody gave some thought to where the bunkers at TOC ought to be.

It may have been many different people over many generations, but the location of the bunkers at TOC are infomed by human agency.

I mean, gosh, it's possible that a monkey could type long enough to write The Sun Also Rises. But it's only theoretically possible. Things like that don't actually happen.

TOC didn't happen that way either.

Bob
« Last Edit: February 23, 2007, 02:01:57 PM by BCrosby »

Mark Bourgeois

Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #22 on: February 23, 2007, 02:33:09 PM »

The thing that most don't realize about the original linksland is that it was the most remarkable coming together of a number of fascinating and diverse factors not found elsewhere in the same combination and with the same timing.


That's what I was getting at, but the thought / question in there isn't worth rescuing. (Life's too short.)

But about bunker origins...I do mean the beginnings of golf, not the beginnings of golf architecture. Isn't that the period Wethered and Simpson are referring to?

As to "wild," it can't be truly wild when you have man (and domesticated animals) tramping over that ground.  There's an interaction there, even if it's not wholly structured or "premeditated" in any architectural sense.

That's what I thought Wethered and Simpson were getting at. Golfers created bunkers through repeated play.

To (mis)appropriate Bob's phrase, "informed by human agency."

Mark

Andy Hughes

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Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #23 on: February 23, 2007, 02:51:00 PM »
Bob, to clarify for those who can't quite decipher what 'informed by human agency' actually means, are you saying that all the bunkers at the Old Course were created by man?
"Perhaps I'm incorrect..."--P. Mucci 6/7/2007

BCrosby

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Re:Re "Nature's Bunkers" Thread: Man & Strategically-Placed Bunkers
« Reply #24 on: February 23, 2007, 03:40:23 PM »
Bob, to clarify for those who can't quite decipher what 'informed by human agency' actually means, are you saying that all the bunkers at the Old Course were created by man?

Yes.

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