Thursday, August 12

The Land of 1,000 Bunkers, But Who’s Counting?

AS YOU CAN SEE at left, Whistling Straits, site of this week’s 92nd PGA Championship has sand fairways. This player’s ball has split the middle, and he looks to have a decent lie from which to hit his next shot to the green.

OK, Whistling Straits doesn’t have sand fairways. But it does have sand, lots and lots of sand, and it’s on display in countless (and I do mean countless) configurations, including furry little baby traps that want to be scary cavernous bunkers when they grow up. This former army base along Lake Michigan has a 1,000 bunkers, give or take ... well, no one is quite sure.

Why so many bunkers?

Because billionaire Herb Kohler wanted a wild-looking Irish links course on the Wisconsin shore. And what Herb wants, Herb gets. Just ask course architect Pete Dye. Although, in actuality, Dye’s handiwork more resembles a Scottish links. (When Herb or Pete can’t sleep, there’s no need to count sheep. They can count bunkers on Whistling Straits. There are more than 50 per hole. Sweet dreams.)

“The bag drop at Whistling Straits is more heavily bunkered than the greens at Augusta National,” wrote SI’s John Garrity.

“I feel bad for the fans,” Hunter Mahan was quoted as saying, “because it seems like you could be walking and all of a sudden you’re falling in a hole of sand and don’t even know it.”

Garrity had a solution for that very real possibility: lugging along a hamper with charcoal, lighter fluid, hot dogs, buns, marshmallows and two sharpened sticks. From watching on TV, it does look like a perfect spot for an afternoon picnic or late-night bonfire.

Seriously, who’s counting every last bunker at Whistling Straits? Apparently, no one. Call it a 1,000. Or 1,200. Close enough. You see, the task is far too tedious, only slightly less difficult than taking the U.S. Census or fixing Social Security.

Besides, if someone did come up with an authoritative bunker count, how would we know it was authoritative unless someone checked it?

No one would want to do that.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Dan Perry/Flickr)


Average Golfer said...

Looks like a links course, water and dunes, but plays like a typical target course.

The Armchair Golfer said...

You're right. You can tell as soon as the ball lands.