PINEHURST, N.C. – What’s a bunker and what’s a waste area? That is the question.
Take a stroll around Pinehurst No. 2 and you’ll see plenty of areas where it’s seemingly unclear how the sandy areas are defined. For instance, there are two bunkers right of the 16th green that are connected by a sandy-type bridge. In that case, it’s confusing to determine which part of the sand is the bunker, and which is the waste area.
USGA executive director Mike Davis said Wednesday at the U.S. Open that he doesn’t envision there being a Whistling Straits-type issue this week, even though Pinehurst certainly presents plenty of potential rulings issues.
“The way we explain it to the players and certainly to our own rules officials is that the bunkers really by definition, are hollows and they contain sand,” Davis said. “Balls are almost always going to roll to the bottom. But where there’s maybe a question … we will have a walking rules official with every group.
“Even if it’s close you’d say, ‘I’m not sure,’ because somebody raked this further than maybe it should have gone, we’ve told our rules officials to treat it as a hazard.”
Davis admitted that Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw contacted him a couple years ago when they were making plans for the restoration of the No. 2 course. They asked Davis if he’d be OK with the type of bunkering that they had planned. Davis didn’t hesitate, and told the duo that he believed the plan was appropriate and kept with the intent of how the course originally was meant to be played.
Sandy areas have been an issue twice at the PGA Championship over the past four years. The PGA played all sandy areas as hazards in the 2010 championship at Whistling Straits and it cost Dustin Johnson a chance to win his first major. Two years ago at the PGA Championship at the Ocean Course, sandy areas were all played as waste areas.
“We don’t think it’s going to be an issue this week,” Davis said. “We don’t have any bunkers outside the rope lines, so we won’t have spectators walking through them. We feel good about the situation.”