Week In Review, May 28-June 3: Bunker Furrowing

WeekInReview2.jpgRex Hoggard's column about reduced playing opportunities for Tour school grads spawned a heated debate about the current PGA Tour system and its future.

Sam Weinman penned a great story from Winged Foot and a debate broke out over...Tiger wearing shorts.

Randell Mell revealed the worst kept secret in golf: the feud between Rees and Robert Trent Jones Jr., and Rees'  plans to redo his dad's course, with DK noting, "Well Rees is nothing if not consistent. He'll even tear up his father's course in the name of "progress".

But the big story of the week: Jack Nicklaus adding furrowed rakes to the anti-distance equation for this week's Memorial. And the early reviews were understandably mixed.

JPB: "I think this is an area where added difficulty is more interesting. Perfect, consistent bunkers aren't interesting. Getting luck involved after a poor shot is interesting. It is why poker is interesting on TV, the better hand loses a lot. It isn't like good shots are getting punished; you just have a variable punishment. Better tough bunkers than 22 yard wide fairways and excessive rough IMO."

All For Furrows wrote: "I second JPB's thoughts - bunkers have not been enforcing the penalty they were meant to enforce on better players. I hope the PGA Tour has a thick enough skin to put up with the whining of the players and to continue this experiment at other Tour stops, and the implement it."

Matt: "One of my favorite courses in the world, the original Muirfield, held up a few years ago to technology in the British Open. I think, in part, due to the severity of the fairway bunkers and the players opting to take the strategic route 'round the course."

AP Maran wrote: "As the game continues to distance itself from the original, "unfair" game where not-perfect fairways, bunkers and greens where part of the obstacle, now they try to make it unfair again but by preparation, inspite of Jones comments. Next step must be cutting the greens unevenly, make fairways 20 feet wide and always 10 inches high rough in front of the greens. All prepared with the best intentions.

Chris wrote: "The USGA has allowed most of the skill level to be reduced by todays technology, Nicklaus's idea (out of desperation) makes sense."

Gus: "The fact that so much thought and effort is going into the bunkers and other maintenance minutia is disturbing. Most, if not all courses in America spend more time, money, and effort maintaining bunkers than they do greens. This is an upside down priority. While this may be fine at a big tournament, the fact that it is happening to some degree at every course only raises the cost of playing the game and leads to a decline in participation. If Jack wants to make the bunkers difficult again, he should do what we do at the muni- rake them once or twice a week only. It's a hazard after all.

Smolmania: "At the Dunes Club, a cool nine hole Nugent design in New Buffalo, MI which is supposed to be an homage to Pine Valley, the bulk of the bunkers on the course (of which there are many) don't have rakes. Makes for some difficult shots out there, but bunkers are after all supposed to be hazards."

R Thompson writes: "Another "Mickey Mouse" course set up to try and bring back some integrity to the sport, where the USGA has had their head buried in one of those deep troughs."

RM: "After reading about the furrowing this week, then watching the telecast today, then reading these comments, I am now definitely in favor of this practice. Even tour pros (or especially tour pros) need to realize that there is more to this game than ordered play on perfect grounds."

DK: "They're panicking that they have just seen the wave of the future and they are lashing out at everyone. This is hilarious and better than I thought it would be. Mickelson seemed to be the only one with poise."

MacDuff: "if it sounds like sour grapes, then that's just what it is...bad breaks and uneven lies are part and parcel of the auld game...perhaps pros of recent decades have had it too cushy; expectations of perfection can only breed a "princess & the pea" mentality."

Pete the Luddite: "I like the furrows. Even better, bring out the horses and run them through the bunkers a few times. Too much grooming these days, let them earn their way out of the bunker!"

Glyn:  "When a pro is happy to be in a bunker because they know they can make an easy out, something is wrong. Like Jack said, I would rather see interesting recovery attempts in reasonable rough than ho hum bunker play."

JohnV: "Now that the bunkers are inconsistent, I'd like to see the rough that way also. I'm tired of perfectly manicured rough. Guys should get good and bad breaks there also. For me nothing is harder than a pitch to a downhill green from a bare dirt patch with a big clump of grass behind the ball. Why do they think we call it "rough"?"

JM: "The furrows seem to be sifting out much more than the more skillful players... there's nothing worse than a guy who blames the course for his own mistakes (or opens his mouth and inserts his foot like Price). Consistency across the tour is certainly an issue, though. I agree. Two thumbs up for Nicklaus."

a.c.: "why is changing the rake any more or less "Mickey Mouse" or "tricked up" than narrowing fairways or growing the rough longer, Mr. Maggert?"

Sean Murphy: "Are we seeing the first examples of bifurication in the rules of golf at the professional level? So, if it's bifurication making its way into the sport at the professional level, to try and artificially increase the difficulty level that there once was, I say, bring back the wood headed clubs, and the three piece wound balls. Lets get this bifurication going, lets make golf at the professional level "TOUGH AGAIN", right John Hawkins?"