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Revetted Bunkers.........

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slag- Nice description, dignified.  Similar to the eyebrows and nose hair on an elderly gentleman.

Craig Disher:
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.


Thank you. By far the best response yet.

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:
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.


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