In his press conference today, Geoff Ogilvy was asked to compare Hoylake and Medinah, and made this point:
Hoylake was, keep it out of the bunkers; anything you could do to keep it out of the bunkers. The rough was actually not a bad spot to be. It was almost better than the fairways in a lot of situations because you had an angle, but you just had to keep it out of fairways bunkers. So that was the whole goal there. Here it's probably keep it out of the rough. Fairway bunkers are probably a good spot to be in a lot of situations.
It is interesting how many times at Medinah that fairway bunkers are placed where the player might have the best angle of attack or view of the green.
But readers of Robert Hunter's The Links will recall his remark that at St. Andrews, many of the best holes have bunkers exactly where you would like to drive to and approach from.
So, why is that praised at St. Andrews and not at Medinah?
The elimination of width, the high rough and overhanging trees play a significant role.
Also, the bunkers at Medinah are large, while the St. Andrews bunkers are mostly pot bunkers.
Therefore, the player can flirt with the pots, striking a shot in the general vicinity, with fairway all around. At Medinah, the bunkers are too large and surrounded by rough, eliminating the temptation to flirt with the sand to open up the ideal angle.
St. Andrews's pits encourage options and aggressive play, Medinah's fairway bunkers emphasize obedience and caution.
Some people prefer the latter, especially in response to equipment advances. I happen to like the more democratic St. Andrews approach.