It might not always seem like it, but golf course architects do not necessarily want to punish golfers. I know. That might be a tough sell after a pure shot finds its way into a perfectly placed fairway bunker, but it’s true.
In fact, learning to understand where an architect wants a golfer to go over the course of a hole can be crucial for a player to take the next step.
Here at Black Butte Ranch, we have been blessed to have some of the very best course architects design Big Meadow and Glaze Meadow. Indeed, the late Robert Muir Graves (Big Meadow) and John Fought (Glaze Meadow redesign) are two of the most respected architects anywhere. And Gene “Bunny” Mason, the legendary golf pro who originally designed Glaze Meadow, was a Central Oregon visionary.
Talented designers such as the men who have formed the golf courses at Black Butte Ranch are not going to shape a course without leaving golfers some clues on how best to attack the course.
One such clue is those fairway bunkers. Anyone who has played Big Meadow enough knows that the bunkers, all 65 of them, are a defining characteristic. And a truism for both courses is that most of those fairway bunkers are meant as a road map as much as a punishment.
“(Big Meadow) is all about bunkering off the tees,” says Jeff Fought, director of golf at Black Butte Ranch and the brother of John Fought. “That’s what makes this course. We put these bunkers in to where you need to avoid them, but they also tell you where to go.
“You either want to stay away from them, or you want to hit right at them,” Fought adds. “They tell the shape of the hole.”
Distance from the tee is the key.
Take the par-5 10th hole at Big Meadow, which doglegs right midway through. The 535-yard hole is reachable in two shots for longer hitters. But a fairway bunker set about 275 yards away from the back tees brings risk to the equation. And shorter hitters might want to hit their tee shots directly at the bunker, which is the safest shot to navigate the dogleg.
Take a look here at the 10th:
It is not a tricky concept. But a golfer must think their way around the golf course. And it does not hurt to have a realistic understanding of their own game’s potential and limitations.
Book a tee time online, call 855-210-5305 or the Golf Shop at 541-595-1545.
For more information on how to take a lesson from Jeff or any of our Black Butte Ranch instructors, visit blackbutteranch.com/golf/lessons-and-instructions. The link also includes a calendar of Black Butte Ranch’s golf schools, clinics and camps.