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Bob_Huntley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Revetted Bunkers.........
« on: October 04, 2003, 11:35:34 AM »
I admit to knowing something about the game of golf, its history, heroes, playing fields but very little about golf course architecture. However, in a dinner conversation with a five-time Open winner he opened my eyes to some of the shibboleths surrounding the subject.

I read raptourous reports  here of the 'natural' bunkering at Sand Hills and elsewhere and paroxysms of delight at the bunkering on The Old Course, but I must ask the question, are revetted bunkers natural? I think not. They are awfully expensive to maintain, are impossible to play for the average player and without constant maintenance would collapse of their own weight.

I realize that I may be accused of heresy, or possibly apostasy, and I shall await a summons to appear before the Lord High Executioner Thomas of Nacaratto for an inquisition. Anyway,I'm off for a quick eighteen holes... wihout revetted bunkers.

ian

Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2003, 12:10:00 PM »
You are very correct about the amount of maintenance they require, especially if there is a problem with small burrowing animals.

The other side is they allow for tight bunkering, easy day to day maintenance, prevent washouts and most importantly avoid potential undercutting of the green surface in naturally sandy soils. And they look really great too.

Yours truly,

Administrative Assistant in charge of Defending Revetted Bunkers for the High Executioner

Ian Andrew, AADRB

Jeff Fortson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2003, 12:15:59 PM »
I think Tommy likes his bunker walls to look like a geographical timeline of the many eras they have been through.  I happen to be a staunch supporter and believer in and of the Naccarato Inquisition.

Jeff F.
#nowhitebelt

ForkaB

Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2003, 12:26:56 PM »
I'm personally sceptical of the long-term viability of "natural" bunkers on wind swept sand base courses (e.g. Sand Hills, Pacific Dunes) without some sort of revetment, now or later, but I'm just guessing based on anecdotal experience.  Time will tell.

Patrick_Mucci

Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2003, 08:57:11 PM »
Bob Huntley,

I think revetted bunkers add and/or emphasize strategy due to their penal nature, created by their structure, which is totally unnatural and man made.

Paul_Daley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2003, 08:38:26 AM »
Bob: Sod-revetted bunkers look fantastic amid the right terrain and style of course; they do much to reduce
the scourge of wind-based erosion; and their near-verticality helps to fortify the bunker and play terrifying "mind games" with golfers. Importantly, they keep the sand where it was meant to be - in the bunker. You called it correctly: they are not natural, and they cannot be on account of being built. They are prepared meticulously: starting at the base and building upwards - layer by layer (perhaps 25-50 in total) and filled, sanded, watered, brushed, back-filled and so forth. Ideally, the act is done on rotation to allow each bunker to stay uniform with its 100-200 buddies.

While on the subject, I always get a free giggle when hearing this style of bunkering being referred to as the "traditional" Scottish method." In the overall evolution of scottish bunkering, sod-revettment is a relatively modern phenomenon. Naturally occuring scars, blow-outs, and  concerted efforts by 'Keepers of The Green' to acknowledge, utilise and eliminate the divot-collection caused by incessant pooling of golf balls, far precede the sod-revettment method of bunker construction. Among all this, hail the humble sheep and its contribution: urination; subsequent lack of grass growth; scraping; more scraping; even more scraping; huddling and shelter. Voila: bunker formation!
 
Sorry, got off the point there a little. For what it's worth, I always think of Muirfield as the baseline for excellence in revetted bunkers.

A_Clay_Man

Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2003, 08:55:48 AM »
Bob- Using the natural "scruffy" look as the comparison, I'd bet the majority of the bell shaped curve of golfers prefer the grass walls to the longer fescued (or other native type grasses) edges. Mostly because if and when their ball finds a "scruffy" spot, they'll be the first to cry, unfair.

Remember the only triple el tigre made in 2000 at the beach? It was on the third hole from the front right bunker grassy knoll wall area. (as I recall, I may be wrong) Come to think of it, the way those bunker walls were maintained was a combo, of sorts, of these two styles. Some of that grass was over two feet long.

TEPaul

Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2003, 01:01:39 PM »
Bob:

No revetted bunkering doesn't look very natural in the pure sense of made by nature. Face it, sand itself doesn't look very "site" natural on most of the golf course sites of this world--since sand itself is not to be found on most sites before courses were built there. That's one of the reasons I keep calling sand bunkering that exist on almost every course in the world--that "odd vestige feature" that hung onto golf architecture completely.

Revetted bunkering has been around long enough to have taken on it's own style I guess. The "lines" of most revetted bunkering is generally sweeping and often does meld in interestingly with the overall site "lines" of many of the courses you find it on.

The playability of revetted bunkers particularly concerning what Ian Andrew said about them has a way of being more effective as a strategic feature too. They generally have extremely short grass surrounding them making balls far easier to get in them. And most revetted bunkering gives that sort of "shadowy" look simply because the sand is not as visible as the more normal sand flashed bunker. I like that "shadowy" look in bunkering because I think it makes golfers pay closer attention to what's going on out there that might be of danger to them.

Patrick_Mucci

Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2003, 01:27:49 PM »
TEPaul & Bob Huntley,

You might be surprised to learn that Greg Norman used a similar bunker style at Old Marsh, in south Florida.

They don't look out of place, and there is no loss of continuity with the other bunker styles found on the golf course.

They do present a highly unusual obstacle to errant golf balls.

I happen to like them.

Norbert P

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2003, 11:22:50 PM »
 They always strike me as dignified stability; giving a course age, even if it is just an illusion.
"Golf is only meant to be a small part of one’s life, centering around health, relaxation and having fun with friends/family." R"C"M

A_Clay_Man

Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2003, 09:36:40 AM »
slag- Nice description, dignified.  Similar to the eyebrows and nose hair on an elderly gentleman.

Craig Disher

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2003, 10:11:53 AM »
I'll go out on a limb here. Why does the appearance of a revetted bunker evoke the feeling that we're looking at a "classic" design? The best designs for early hazards were intended to have a completely natural appearance  - if you have a copy of The Links, Hunter's chapter on constructing hazards doesn't mention (I think) revetting - which is completely unnatural - at all.

I don't have any documentation on this but is it possible that revetting was just a reinforcing technique (like the lath behind plaster - or the "sleepers" used in many old hazards) that the architect assumed would be smoothed over with a more natural-appearing grass surface? Over time, natural erosion may have eroded the smooth surface, exposing the stacked sod and giving the impression that that was the intended appearance.

Are revetted bunkers now a "signature" feature that we associate with links, Scotland, etc. when in fact they were never intended to appear that way at all? Just a thought.

Bob_Huntley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2003, 11:05:57 AM »
CDisher,

Thank you. By far the best response yet.

Tommy_Naccarato

Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2003, 03:39:58 PM »
Bob, Don't ask me how I missed this thread. Sorry for the indiscression!

I side with a lot of what everyone has said here, more importantly Craig, because that is exactly where revetting came from--just another form of bulkheading the faces of the most penal bunkers sandy soils had to offer. No, it isn't natural looking either because it is a man-made effort to stablize, and int he case of the Scots, Merion, Bill Kittleman and Richie Valentine, it was whatever material that was readily available and whatever process was going to do the trick--which to me is totally cool and quirky and fun and exciting, and challenging, and threatening and etc. etc. etc.

Now in the case of the Old Course and the changes that they have done int he last years, even more since I have been there, I'm not a fan, because to some extent they're going entirely with grass faces on many of the bunkers. It loks more like something Rees Jones has been doing there then Old Tom or Alan Robertson or Bill Kittleman.

I think of The Soup Bowl, which Craig can offer further insight as it was a thought provoking hazard simply because it was totally artifical visually but needed to prevent sand from being blown out of the bunker, as well as the bunker walls from caving-in. It had uneven sleepers popping-out of the embankments of its bunker walls, and while it isn't anything that we would call fair, it certainly is neat to see it in pictures from way back when because it was in an era when bunkers and all hazards had personalities. Even to the point that they were given names, and they're reputations were legendary because they had disaster spelled all over them.

How great must it have been at the time to see a mate or competitor caught by the rub of the green or luck in one of these terrible and frightful places! This is where most likely, our favorite golfing stories came from.

But in much aspect of the artifical vs. natural discussion of the topic, revetting isn't the killer of imagination or desire--the use of it in gimmicky situations is, because it wasn't of neccessity. At Rustic Canyon, Gil's spec for the bunkers required two or three layers of stacked-sod, and then a layer over it, giving it the "REAL" bunker look. But a lot of that morre then likely was because of the sandy soil of the site, plus, Gil's bunkers have that timeless Merion/Natural feel to them.

Is it gimmicky--Not to me, and yes, I'm partial.

Matthew Delahunty

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2003, 10:31:37 AM »
Does anyone know why Carnoustie has gone with letting the grass grow in on their revetted faces and while many of its neighbours don't? I suppose it gives it a more natural look, although not much about Carnoustie struck me as natural. Personally, I loved the shapes and presentation of some of the prominent deep bunkers at Dornoch but am thankful I didn't manage to find too many of them.

In Australia, New South Wales Golf Club has recently moved to revetted bunkers. I think the results are great. Standing between the dunes on the 16th fairway is like being transported to somewhere in Scotland.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2003, 10:42:55 AM by Dela »

Anthony_Nysse

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Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2003, 08:45:13 PM »


You might be surprised to learn that Greg Norman used a similar bunker style at Old Marsh, in south Florida.


Greg had nothing to do with Old Marsh-Old Marsh opened in 1988. Are you thinking of The Medalist, Greg's course that opened in 1994ish?
« Last Edit: October 08, 2003, 08:46:35 PM by Anthony_Nysse »
Anthony J. Nysse
Director of Golf Course & Grounds
Mountain Lake
Lake Wales, FL

RT

Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2003, 05:53:18 AM »
Dela,

A "misting" system (similar small pop-up sprinkler heads used to water low-lying shrubs) was installed in the revetted faces before the '99 Open.

This allows the turfgrass not to succomb as much to the vagaries of the summer conditions of the bunker face extremes drying out, a nefeast condition that ultimately leads to a lower life span of the revetted bunker face, and subsequently to re-revetting.

RT

Matthew Delahunty

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #17 on: October 09, 2003, 10:51:56 AM »
ingenious - thanks for that, RT. Has that system caught on elsewhere? Most of Carnoustie's faces are "above" ground level (moreso than other most other links courses I've been to) so I'm assuming that makes them more somewhat susceptible to nature.

RT

Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #18 on: October 09, 2003, 12:33:33 PM »
I know the idea has been written in trade magazines in the UK, but I do not personally "know" of any other specific course doing it.  That's not saying it hasn't been done elsewhere.  I do know of a few clubs that are considering it, esp. after this years "summer smoker" (StDan) here in the UK.

You are right most of the fine lady's obstacles are above grade a bit, whether this makes them more susceptible as general rule to forces of mother nature, perhaps a bit moreso.  The bunkers, irregardless of position above grade, that will get more hammered are obviously those that are southern facing.

BCrosby

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Re:Revetted Bunkers.........
« Reply #19 on: October 09, 2003, 01:38:39 PM »
Norman built revetted bunkers at Sugarloaf here in Atlanta. They are striking and I like them a lot.

I have asked several people why you don't see more of them in this area, especially with all of the new courses being built.

The answer I get is that the sod rots in the heat and humidity of a summer in the SE. They have to be rebuilt every couple of years and therefore are much more expensive to maintain.

Bob
« Last Edit: October 09, 2003, 04:25:33 PM by BCrosby »

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