Why are the bunkers so inconsistent? USGA agronomist Brian Whitlark explains why totally consistent bunkers are unachievable... and why moaning at your greenkeepers is barking up the wrong tree
1. SAND DEPTH
Depth of sand has a big impact on playability. If the sand is shallow, bunkers may be wet and firm; too much sand yields soft conditions that increase the probability of buried lies. Inconsistencies develop from normal play, raking and wind exposure.
2. SUN EXPOSURE
Bunkers that get more sun play softer than those receiving less. East and south east-facing bunkers dry faster in the morning than bunkers oriented to the west or north and therefore play softer.
3. WIND EXPOSURE
Bunkers facing the predominant wind direction will dry faster and play softer than bunkers that are shielded from the wind.
4. PLAY VOLUME
Bunkers that receive more play will be softer and less consistent than bunkers with little play. Why? Golf shots, foot traffic and raking disturb bunker sand and soften conditions.
Irrigating greens often places bunkers in the line of fire of sprinklers. Bunkers that receive irrigation will play firmer than those that are out of the way of irrigation.