This is a guest post from the fellas over at 3JackAlmanac.com, co-founded by Chris Racic and Johnny Giovonni, two passionate amateur golfers and avid golf fans. Check out their website at 3JackAlmanac.com.
As the stage is set for the 2015 Open Championship’s return to the Old Course at St. Andrews, players will have fresh hazards to navigate their way around. St. Andrews renovated approximately 50 bunkers in anticipation of the 144th Open, including the infamous 14th hole bunker known as “Hell”.
If the 17th hole’s Road Bunker is the Old Course’s most famous, Hell Bunker might be the most recognizable. The last time St. Andrews hosted the Open, the 14th hole played 618 yards. The 3200-square feet bunker taunts players choosing to lay up. The 10 foot face has left its mark on some of the world’s greatest golfers’ scorecards. Jack Nicklaus recorded a quintuple bogey 10 in the 2000 Championship after landing in Hell. In 1933, Gene Sarazen found the hazard and left with triple bogey. He would go on to miss a playoff by a single stroke.
Rebuilding the fairway bunker was a complex process that started in November. A team of five greenskeepers dug out the sand, removed the existing turf, and reconstructed the hazard.
“The bunker face was built to a 65 degree angle. This is the standard angle for rough and fairway bunkers,” wrote Greenkeeper Martin Turna on the St. Andrews blog. Each layer of sod was installed with a level. Once the crew finished three-quarters of the hazard’s height, it was left to settle for a couple of weeks.
Several of the bunkers, including Hell, now have camera ducts installed. Television viewers will see a new viewpoint as golf balls find their way into trouble. Previously only the Road Bunker had a dedicated camera angle.
Turna also reported that due to the clay content in its base, Hell was prone to flood during heavy rainfall. The grounds crew added a higher percentage of sand in the base of the bunker to help with drainage. An estimated 60 tons of sand was used to fill the floor.
Aside from wind and the weather, the Old Course’s primary defenses are its bunkers. With 112 bunkers spread across 16 holes, we can expect The Home of Golf’s sand to have a say in who takes home the Claret Jug.
Check out the time lapsed video straight from St. Andrews showing the total rebuild.
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