Famous Golf Bunkers: Five Formidable Foes
It's true that some bunkers can provide an element of solace when faced with alternatives which are fraught with danger.
When eyeing-up a lengthy approach shot to a heavily protected green, it would rarely perturb a golfer of any skill level if his or her golf ball ended up greedily snared by a bunker just short of its intended target.
With all that said, while there are 'sand-traps' which can play as havens, there are just as many which can put the frighteners on even the best golfers in the world.
With that in mind, let's have a look at some of the most infamous bunkers on the golfing circuit.
'The Coffin' - Eighth Hole at Royal Troon
Playing as the shortest hole on the Open Championship circuit, the eighth hole at Royal Troon is also famously known as 'The Postage Stamp' due to its small, narrow target green just 123 yards from the tee.
Further adding to the difficulty level, five greenside bunkers protect the putting surface and one in particular - 'The Coffin' - strikes fear into the hearts of many-a-golfer as they consider their strategy and attempt to avoid any lasting damage to their score.
With the wind often prevailing from the right, and its position to the left of the green, this body of sand is firmly in play and can be a real scorecard wrecker. Little wonder then that it is the most famous bunker on the whole course.
The biggest obstacle that faces any golfer unlucky enough to find themselves long and left in the sand here is the steep face of 'The Coffin' bunker. Add into the mix the chance of an obstructed golf swing and a recipe for disaster starts to take shape.
Just as a reminder of how punishing the 'Coffin' bunker at Royal can be, here's Rory taking SIX shots to escape during a practice round:
The Himalayas - 4th Hole Royal St George's
This one's a beast.
While slightly tempered by the fact that it's not in play for the majority of professionals due to its location just 235 yards from the tee box, if there's a prevailing wind in play - of any discernable strength - then all bets are off.
At an eye-popping 40-feet deep, this is a real scorecard wrecker for any golfer unfortunate enough to fall short of the carry distance. Advancing the ball forward is not in play - escaping sideways is but even that's far from a walk in the park.
There's only one obvious winning formula. Avoid at all costs.
With the Sandwich club back on the Open rota in 2020, we won't have to wait too long to see the world's best face the mighty Himalayas bunker once again. It may take a considerable strength of wind during the week for it to come into play - but you never know.
The Road Hole Bunker - 17th Hole, Old Course, St Andrews
Probably the most famous bunker in all of golf, The Road Hole Bunker is a deep, cavernous pit just short left of the green on the 17th hole of the Old Course at St Andrews in Scotland.
Designed to discourage players from intentionally bailing out left, it is sculpted in such a way that any wayward shots in the immediate vicinity will be immediately and mercilessly gathered.
With the road right, the bunker left, and what looks like a sliver of green dissecting both, the options don't seem great. Just roll them dice and see if you can get lucky.
Successfully playing the bunker also requires an element of chance - and skill of course. If the ball comes to rest in the centre providing a reasonable stance - and room to swing - a well-executed bunker shot will evade the fearsome 5-foot face and advance (ideally) towards the pin.
Get unlucky and escaping sideways may be the best you can muster.
Take a look at the evolution of the Road Hole Bunker over the years below:
The Church Pews - 3rd and 4th holes, Oakmont Country Club
Within a collection of 209 bunkers throughout the golf course at Oakmont Country Club in Pensylvania, the most famous would have to be the 'Church Pews' which is in play for 102 yards of its third and fourth holes.
Errant tee shots that come to rest within the Church Pews are almost guaranteed a dicey lie, tricky stance - or both. Chipping out sideways is often the best that the world's best can hope for.
Over the years many accomplished players have come to grief within this particular hazard. Oakmont Country Club was the scene of current world number Dustin Johnson's maiden major win in 2016 during a championship; the Church Pews saw plenty of action that week.
Take a look at Rickie Fowler, Jason Dufner and Jimmy Walker getting a feel for the bunker below:
Riviera's Bunker on the Green - 6th hole, Riviera Country Club
This one is about as recognisable as they come. The putting surface of the par three sixth hole at Riviera Country Club is chopped into four separate quadrants by an ominous looking pothole bunker.
On most greens, it would be very unusual to see a golfer using a wedge but when there's a bunker on your chosen line to the hole what else are you going to do?
Standing on the tee box club selection is key as, unlike other par threes, finding the surface of the green provides no guaranteed refuge. Throw into the mix a wind which can swirl at times and you have yourself a challenging hole.
So what's the best way to play it? Hole the tee shot of course, simple. Just like Dustin Johnson below:
Remember that, while we will all face dangerous, fearsome golf shots in the future, the words of the great Sam Snead will help guide us to make the very best of a bad situation.
The seven-time major winner reminds us all that "Of all hazards, fear is the worst".
Which bunkers in world golf stick out in your mind? Let us know in the comments below.