If you could build a truly world-class course without bunkers (which I doubt) it would involve ridiculous amounts of earth-moving.
Andy, Interesting comments. When starting the thread, I was thinking of just the opposite -- I envisioned a course created with very little earth moving. (I wonder how much dirt gets moved during construction to accomodate/create bunkers.) Also, I probably should have included added artificial water hazards as well as bunkers in my original inquiry.
As far as increased costs, I would imagine that bunkers would be quite expensive per square foot, perhaps moreso than anything but greens. Perhaps I assume incorrecty?
As to your individual points:
1. Strategy. Why do you think an architect have to resort to features such as hanging lies or heavy rough to provide strategy? Aren't bunkers penal, at least to most golfers? I think of strategy in terms of multiple angles of attack, and it seem that one could provide for interesting angles of attack by use of green contours, elevation changes, and interesting fairway contours.
2. Containment. I am not a big fan of containment, and generally dislike containment bunkers, so we might just disagree here. But even if we assume the necessity of containment on a world class course, wouldnt rough be just as effective?
3. Aesthetics. You make a legitimate point. I read somewhere (I dont remember where) that it is legitimate to use bunkers where they are not naturally occuring because they provide the connection back to true links golf. This can actually be seen at Cypress Point, where MacKenzie uses bunkers (such as on Number 4) to blend the links part of the course into the non-links sections.
That being said, I sometimes like clean look of a bunkerless shot, and find it a refreshing change of pace.