The Open 2023: Bunkers adjusted, made easier for the players

In the first round, the pros at the 2023 Open Championship had to contend with the treacherous pot bunkers at Royal Liverpool Golf Club. For round 2, the conditions were adjusted.

The deep pot bunkers are characteristic of the links courses in Scotland. The steep bunker walls give players a hard time on such courses anyway. Not infrequently, bad luck adds to the problem, so that a normal stance is not an option when playing out of the bunker. So the players have to get creative, play with one leg and in the worst case play back towards the tee. Complicating matters further is the sloping topography of the greens towards the bunkers, which causes balls to roll towards the sand time and time again.

Even some professionals despair of the challenging obstacles at Royal Liverpool Golf Club. Justin Thomas, for example, ended his first round with a 9 on the par-5 18th because he was unable to free himself from a tricky bunker location.

Adjusting the bunkers at the 2023 Open Championship

In addition to sloping greens and steep bunker walls, the subsoil in particular poses a special challenge for the pros. The greenkeeping team has smoothed out the bottoms of the bunkers in preparation for the British Open 2023, so that the balls stay in tricky positions in the corners of the bunkers. With dry conditions in mind, the greenkeeping team was asked to adjust the bottoms of the bunkers after the completion of the first round.

The R&A explained, “We would like to inform you that we have adjusted the way the bunkers are raked overnight. Yesterday afternoon the bunkers dried out more than they have in recent weeks, and this resulted in more balls being left directly against the walls than we would normally expect. (…) We routinely rake the bunkers flat at most Open venues, but we decided this adjustment was appropriate given the drier conditions that occurred yesterday. We will continue to monitor this closely for the remainder of the championship.”

For now, then, it’s a case of breathing a sigh of relief for the players at the British Open. With a little luck, such hopeless situations as there were in the first round can be avoided.