Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Church Pews Bunker

One of the most famous bunkers in all of golf is the Church Pews bunker found at the Oakmont Country Club. Almost as famous as the Road Hole bunker found on the Old Course at St. Andrews. It would perhaps be unfair to say that the Church Pews bunker is the most dreaded part on the Oakmont course because players seem to be getting spooked by almost every available inch of space on the course but one can say with a great deal of certainty that the Church Pews bunker is quite possibly the most graceful looking hazard in all of golf. When the golf course was initially designed it was a set of eight bunkers one after the other. When the golf course was later redesigned and the number of bunkers considerably reduced(at one point the course had over 350 bunkers) the eight bunkers were redesigned to form the beautiful looking Church Pews.
A dictionary definition of a Pew tells us that they are long, fixed, backed benches that are arranged in rows for the seating of a congregation in church. No wonder then that the bunker has been aptly named the church pews bunker. Not much is known as to when members began to use the name but the year when Jack Nicklaus won the U.S. Open in Oakmont the name seems to have gained a lot of prominence with the bunker finiding a lot of print space. Legend has it (ok,slight exaggeration), once when a player could not locate his golf ball in the bunker a spectator is believed to have shouted out to him it is in the seventh aisle!
This bunker is found between the third and the fourth fairway and it becomes impossibly difficult for a player to reach the green once they find the bunker. Just recently during one of his interactions with the press, Tiger was asked why he was not practicing shots out of the church pews bunker like most other players. His response-:"Why should I practice negativity?"

This one will definitely make the top 10 list of the most famous bunkers list but as for the title of the most famous bunker, the Scots will continue to make their case for the Road Hole bunker and wont take lightly to any suggestion to the contrary.

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