The Torrance’s new bunkers

Our Torrance Course, possibly one of the most popular courses in the area before undergoing some serious enhancements, will reopen in 2009 with the most serious collection of sod-walled (revetted) bunkers in the country. The design work is being done by Texan Gary Stephenson who has wisely left the bunker work to our superintendent Neil Ballingall and his team. Neil worked at Lundin Links, Muirfield and Lossiemouth prior to coming to Fairmont St Andrews (former St Andrews Bay), he knows bunkers.

When you play the Old Course there are several bunkers that you avoid at all costs (all with nice names, like Hell, The Coffins, Stroke, and The Roadhole Bunker). At Carnoustie there are a few to stay out of but the majority allow skilled players to move their ball forward towards the pin (even I got it on the green at 18 from the Johnny Miller bunker). Even the #1 ranked course in the UK, Turnberry Ailsa has only a couple do-not-enter bunkers. Well, when the Torrance hosts the Final qualifying for the 2010 Open the players may find 63 disastrous creations to avoid.

6th hole new bunker (sand to be added)

6th hole before revetting, bit easier to advance your Pro V1

I think bunkers, revetted ones, can become the most penal area on a course. A water hazard costs a stroke and possibly some distance, OB is a stroke and distance so that adds two to the scorecard, but a deep bunker can add several strokes (remember Jack Nicklaus making 10 out of Hell bunker?). In fact, I imagine the reason most people play Stableford competitions over here is so they can take a whack or two in the sand then pocket it! Loss of hole, no points, whatever, let’s go to the next hole!

The 7th hole Torrance Course, the before and after . Please let me know if you’d like to see the other 61 bunkers, better yet, come see them yourself in 2009. We have also rebuilt all the tees, improved the drainage, reshaped several areas and increased the links-feel areas while maintaining the tremendous challenge for all level of player that made the old Torrance popular. The Devlin is open this year and is in excellent kit.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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