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Designing For Golf Pros, Files: 5th At Kapalua Edition

Cover your eyes kids, but Ron Whitten gives us a window into the coddled mindset that is golf architecture for the modern pro. At least, in the eye of some.

Check out his entire piece on the Kapalua remodel in the face of linebacker strength and core-infused speed, as addressed by the course’s original architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

The par-5 fifth needed strengthening due to its width and easy reachability. With no room to lengthen, Coore and Crenshaw went old school, looked at divots, and placed a Bunker Old Course-style. Ish.

“Everybody hit it up the left side,” Coore said. “Nobody challenged the ravine on the right side off the tee. After the tournament, I walked out to the fairway and found almost all the divots were in one big area on the left center of the fairway.”

He marked the spot and the next morning, he went out with Ben, who agreed the tee shot on five had become “mindless.” They discussed placing a bunker in the center of the patch of divots, to force players to position their drives. Crenshaw suggested that some may choose to aim at the bunker and fade it into the right side of the fairway, which would still be some 40 yards wide, but edged by that ravine. They flagged out the proposed bunker.

Soon, Rolfing, Wenzloff and tour officials inspected it. Tour players don’t like bunkers in the center of a fairway, they said. Especially a bunker so deep that they can only pitch out sideways.

So Coore and Crenshaw agreed to make it a shallow bunker, knee deep at its deepest, so players would still have a chance to escape with a five iron and reach the green.

The lack of depth in Kapalua’s bunkering was noticeable during the round one telecast of the 2020 Sentry. I assumed it was to help resort golfers get around faster. Turns out, there was a duel purpose.

This unfortunately raises the question debated for a couple of centuries now: why bunkers are there in the first place? To provide a manicured place of recovery or a penalty of some kind that elicits thought, a change of course and an edge to those who circumvent the trouble with a nice combo platter of brains and brawn.

There is also the more salient question: how often have the desires and needs of golf professionals had a positive impact on architecture? Rarely.

This post first appeared on, With - A Blog Devoted To The State Of Golf., please read the originial post: here

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Designing For Golf Pros, Files: 5th At Kapalua Edition


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