The Art of Scottish Bunkers

new fairway bunkers left of fairway on 13th Torrance, par 5, three shot hole

The “art” of making the perfect bunker, it takes a lot of soad

I was fortunate to have managed the Fairmont courses in St Andrews Scotland.  We started to renovate both courses the first year that I was there, in late 2007.   Part of Fairmont’s efforts to make our two excellent courses “more local” was to replace 74 American type bunkers with “Scottish sod-walled bunkers” usually found only on links courses.  Our Super, Neil Ballingall, had apprenticed at Carnoustie and Muirfield, and he got permission to build the bunkers, all 72 of them.  As it turned out it takes a week to build a bunker, and they should last a dozen years before they need to be re-built.   The resulting bunkers are brilliant, in North American professional golf the pros sometimes play for a bunker, knowing they can get it up-and-down 95% of the time.  Not in Scotland, where “bunkers should be noticed, and avoided”.  Some of Neil’s work follows.  I have over 500 photos if anyone would like more.

Torrance Course, 7th hole, middle of the fairway, “target” bunker (just right, or just left, or just over it will give you a good angle to the green


Right side of the new 18th hole on the Torrance (after 6 months, waiting for sand.




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Gary Slatter

Venerable Canadian golf pro Gary Slatter discusses his opinions on the state of golf, golf course design and construction, teaching and more, based on a lifetime in the business.

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