Don't worry, this article is about a solution for the game, not another depressive article about how the golf industry is going.
Broken Grounds, in this old feature might lie the future of the game.
This expression is seldom used nowadays, but back in the days when shaping was a man power matter, parts of course where left pretty much as is, perfect in its imperfection, broken. Sloped irregularly and garnished with bushes and scrubs, broken grounds are, in every sense of the words, hazards. A ball heading into it can lead to an infinite variety of lies where only the creative or the lucky player can escape unarmed.
No mowing required: Dramatic broken ground all over the place at Royal County Down (photo: golfclubatlas.com)
Broken grounds offer an opportunity to pull out a great recovery, to play a shot that can hardly be reproduced but that remains present in the mind of the player who executed it or the opponent who felt victim of it. Sadly, broken ground is rarely a part of golf courses now, the modern player is way too sensible about his score to allow the presence of these imponderables close to the greens and fairways.
Heather, bumps and grasses protect the inside of the dogleg on the 6th hole at Panmure, Scotland
Low on maintenance but high on drama. Over the last few decades, golf architects like Coore and Crenshaw, Gil Hanse, Tom Doak and others, have put great efforts to bring back the artistic and intricate bunkering that enhance the quality and aesthetics of golf architecture. But artistic bunkering, and any bunkering for that matter, comes with a high cost of maintenance. Those architects have compensated by managing the area of disturbance and preserving as much of the natural qualities of their sites.
Instead of putting a bunker to protect the obvious bail-out short right of the 18th green at TPC Sawgrass, Pete Dye carved wild humps and bumps (left on the picture) to narrow the entrance to the green. (photo: caddybytes.com)
The use of broken ground fuel up the character of a golf course like no other and should be an inspiration for any architect who seeks to make the game more exciting and more affordable. Very few delibarate efforts have been done to create such features as an integral hazard for a hole or shot. I hope the restoration of Pinehurst number 2 and the playing of the US Open there will open some eyes in that regard.
Little bumps, wispy grass, akward lies are part of the interest in the restored Pinehurst no 2. (photo: golfclubatlas.com)