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Friday
Apr202012

Olympic Club Getting A New Bunker This Week

The rumors are true, the USGA has asked for and received the installation of a new greenside bunker on Olympic Club's 17th hole just 56 days before the start of U.S. Open practice rounds on June 11th.

I'll have plenty of details in Golf World Monday and in next week's Golf World, but in a nutshell...

- The bunker will extend the right half green complex bunkering on the par-5 17th to break up a newly widened fairway that extends all the way to the right of the green, where a huge chipping area down the slope figures to add some zesty risk-reward equations to the tournament mix.

- The new bunker leaves about a 40-50 yard recovery shot.

- USGA Executive Director Mike Davis is behind the decision to add the bunker and made the call to install it in February upon club approval. After seeing that the newly widened fairway tied into the green complex short grass was going to reduce or eliminate the temptation to go for the green in two shots, Davis felt a bunker would eliminate decision-making.

- Davis said, "I really think the lay-up would have been so easy and the pitch shot so easy that it would have backfired in what we were trying to do which is to say, hey guys, either go for it, or if you’re going to lay up on this incredibly short par-5, you’ve got to hit a good layup shot."

- The USGA will be paying for the installation and removal of the bunker, should the club decide to take it out after the Open, which Davis believes will be the case because the severity of the new tight grass area would be too much for everyday play.

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Reader Comments (21)

"Zesty risk-reward equations?" What, did Shipnuck ghostwrite this? That's a Ship-ism if I ever heard one.
04.20.2012 | Unregistered Commenteraturner
Frankly, I think these courses should stand on their own merits. If I were a member, I would be pissed they were going to make such a drastic change to a hole just to punish the pros. It's ok that not every hole on the course is rated over par during the Open.

We're not talking about growing the rough out a couple of inches or cutting greenside grass down. The architects created these courses the way they did on purpose. The addition of a bunker is a pretty big deal and it stinks. If the course isn't Open material, then it's not Open material and the USGA should choose other venues. This stinks even more considering how late in the game it's being done.
04.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris from DE
aturner,
I'm comfortable with a Shipnuck comparison!

Chris,
Fair points though the USGA is paying for its installation and removal, so hard to be too critical of them. I will say having seen two Opens at Olympic, the old 17th was pretty dreadful. I'm excited about it playing as a par-5 this year and seeing what happens if people have a go at it and miss the green right.
04.20.2012 | Registered CommenterGeoff
If they haven't already screwed this course up enough with all the new tees, the new greens, a new 7th and 8th hole they now have to mess with an uphill brute of a hole, placing the bunker in a perfect layup spot. Olympic is becoming more like Augusta or Oakland Hills where every classical element is bulldozed in favor of becoming a modern monster.
04.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhil
@Phil - Geoff says its "incredibly short" - you say "an Uphill brute" of a hole - maybe you aren't realizing its a par 5 ? 3 shot Par 5's are the most boring holes in any course in my opinion.
04.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
I gotta ask, Geoff; if the bunker addition makes it a better hole, then why remove it as soon as the national Open is completed? Is it because the runoff area is unsustainable?
04.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
@Chris, I agree with you totally. Mike Davis may have a bigger ego than even Tim Finchem. Somehow this guy has convinced everyone that he knows what is right and what is best, even on some of the greatest courses in the US. I have always had the belief that the great courses--Shinnecock, Winged Foot, etc.--are great enough to stand up to the best players in the world. They don't need to be manipulated by a guy who's ego is so big that he told the USGA board when they hired him that he would take the job only if he could still be in charge of setting up the US Open course because he obviously is a control freak who thinks he is the only one capable of doing the job. It seems obvious that Davis is a architect wannabe with no real appreciation for classic architects. He thinks he knows more than they did. The whole USGA nonsense of having a number-even par-for the winner of the US Open is the biggest crock of s*** ever. There are so many factors that come into play(WEATHER). 8-under, 1-under, 2 over, who cares. Let em play.
04.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarter
I recall 17 comes after the 6,000+ yard 16th. So maybe a good contrast there. But agree the course is being too messed with. I definitely dislike the recent re-do of 7 and 8. Both were lovely and classic. Now, charm's lost and length emphasized. But if you're in the area, play Pasa on your way to/fro Carmel. "Another 600 yards and parking and it could host any tourney". Casey Martin.
04.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPasaplayer
I'm not sure he was being ironic, but I am.
04.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPasaplayer
Correction: 600+ yard 16th. It just feels longer.
04.20.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPasaplayer
I thought 6000+ was pretty funny.
Chuck,
Yes, Davis feels the short grass is unsustainable for daily play and therefore the bunker is not needed.
04.20.2012 | Registered CommenterGeoff
BrianS is right- 3 shot par 5's are boring. For everyone.
There was a tournament a week or so back at a pretty good course where all the par 5's are reachable in two shots. At Augusta all the 5's have been albatrossed. So we have 4 holes where 3 is excellent, 4 is pretty good, 5 is pretty poor and 6 or over is dismal but possible. (And 2 rare.)
That's what par 5's are all about.
The same logic can be applied to reachable par 4s.
What a great course that would make- with an eagle at every par 4 and 5 a possibility.
Par 72 but 40 possible (birdie the par 3's and eagle the rest.)
"If any fresh sand is put into bunkers, it should be done at least three months before the competition so that it settles and firms to match the
existing sand conditions." -- 2008 Edition of 'How to Conduct a Competition'
04.21.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTed Mitchell
Agree that it is late in the game to be doing this.
04.21.2012 | Unregistered Commenterd.b.cooper
Ted I'm sure they'll be using compactors and everything else, although the USGA seems to like their sand a bit soft these days.
04.21.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatt
If the bunker is removed afterwards, how does this move fit into the argument that the players in the US Open and the members are in fact playing "the same game"?
04.22.2012 | Unregistered CommenterNick Adams
Not sure how I feel about the bunker but if you've spent anytime around Mike Davis you know that he is no ego maniac
04.22.2012 | Unregistered Commenterrose
I just want to add some information regarding the changes to the course that the club has done. The club had no choice but to replace the greens as the poa annua was becoming unsustainable due to the nematodes. Especially with the chemical that was used to keep them at bay becoming outlawed. The changes to the course have been mostly positive I'd say for a lot of members, many are unhappy about the trees that have come out.(this is also a function of the lifespan of those trees) The new 8th hole is a huge improvement over the previous one. The 7th hole really isn't that different but the change in the green doesn't change it all that much it makes it a more fair hole. All of the new tees are there to be used if needed as they had the space. As for the new bunker on 17, they should have just played it as a par 4 again to avoid this issue. But as a par 4 it was among the hardest holes in previous Opens. I think as a 5 for the pros it would be rather defenseless. Just my 2 cents from a guy who plays it fairly regularly. And BTW, all of the greens are being replaced on the Ocean Course while it's closed down for the Open so this is no attempt at making it harder for the pros.
04.22.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGabe
@rose There is such a thing as being an egomaniac without acting like The Donald. His actions are egotistical, meaning he thinks he knows more than anybody else, even some of the greatest architects of all time. To me, that means he's got a huge ego. Might be a nice guy and all but Mike Davis has continued to push the even par line of the USGA which is ridiculous, by manipulating classic golf courses. He also, as the top man, has not changed the beyond archaic Walker Cup selection process which really makes me question his leadership ability.
04.22.2012 | Unregistered Commentercombover
This hole is a bear. Soooo uphill. Plays more like 580. I think it is a good call though.
04.23.2012 | Unregistered CommenterNubi

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