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Most Awesome Hazards In Golf

THE MOST AWESOME HAZARDS IN GOLF

WORDS BY DAMIAN SHUTIE

FROM ICONIC CAVERNOUS BUNKERS TO SPECTACULAR CRASHING WAVES TO TRAIN TRACKS (YEP, THAT'S RIGHT!), WE LOOK AT THE WORLD'S MOST FASCINATING HAZARDS THAT'LL INSPIRE EQUAL PARTS FEAR AND AWE.

ONE of the most unique things about golf remains the ever-changing landscape upon which it is played. It can also be one of its most challenging aspects. 

And hazards, such as bunkers and water, add to a course'schallenge more than anything else. As a form of defence, they can invoke both fear and awe in any golfer. Of course some are more fearsome – and awesome – than others.

We could either let these round-ruiners drive us mad, or celebrate them. Considering we spend so much time in the damn things, we chose to do the latter. »

“OF ALL THE HAZARDS, FEAR IS THE WORST.”
– SAM SNEAD

'THE CAVE BUNKER'

El Camaleon Golf Club

Playa del Carmen, MEXICO

WE KICK off our list with one of the most ridiculously awesome bunkers – of sorts –you'll find anywhere in the world.

The Cave Bunker at Mexico's El Camaleon Golf Club – locally known as "Devil's Mouth" for obvious reasons – has sent many misguided shots here straight to hell. Adiós! 

More accurately, it is a cenote – a deep sinkhole with a natural underground reservoir of water found in the limestone of Yucatán.

While this huge, (almost) entirely natural hazard plays as the 7th hole during the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, it presents a formidable obstacle at the opening hole for the rest of us.

Make no mistake – this thing is huge, and if a ball finds its way into the mouth of the cave and into the watery abyss beneath the surface, you'll be taking an unplayable for sure.

That is unless you feel your golf is in need of a little more spelunking, in which case start planning your trip to Mexico. 

Best of all, this is a double-whammy – a sand and water hazard in one.

   

'HIMALAYA'

St. Enodoc Golf Club (Church)

 Cornwall, ENGLAND

REGARDED as one of, if not the, largest bunkers in Europe, the massive sand trap at St. Enodoc's 6th hole known simply as 'Himalaya' is an epic obstacle to overcome.

Lying in wait for aggressive hitters or faders to step onto the tee, Himalaya doesn't just cause an issue for those taking on this 380-yard par-4. It also poses a genuine visual hazard for those laying up on the hole, with a blind shot over the towering, cavernous bunker to the green.

Many have been left saying their prayers before playing out of – or over – the Himalaya bunker at St Enodoc's Church Course.   

An imposing sight from the tee box some 200 yards away, it only becomes more fearsome the closer you get. 

Not to be confused with the more famous trap of the same name found at Royal St.George's 4th hole – the St. Enodoc Himalaya bunker's height has been measured at 75 feet (or just under 23 metres!).

Simply put, just don't go in it. You might never get out.   

PACIFIC OCEAN

Pebble Beach Golf Links (18th Hole)

California, USA

IT HAS been the scene of some of the game's most iconic moments, yet the closing hole at famed Pebble Beach Golf Links is also home to one of the most awesome water hazards on the planet.

Littered with ancient rocks and lapping PacificOcean waves, anything slightly left off the tee here is likely to be gone. For good.

Bordering the entire left side of this epic par-5, thePacific Ocean poses a beautiful yet beastly danger.

A hole faders love and hookers hate, this is one hazard shaped by water, wind and plenty of time you'll want to avoid at all costs.

'HELL BUNKER'

St. Andrews (Old)

Fife, SCOTLAND

THE home of the pot bunker – St.Andrews Old course – has some of the most devilish sand traps in the game.

Look no further than the 14th hole's famous – or infamous, depending on whether you've encountered it – 'Hell Bunker'.

This deep, sandy beast has ruined many rounds and remains one of the most iconic bunkers in golf.

'THE FLOATING GREEN'

Coeur d'Alene Golf Resort Hole No.14, Par-3

Idaho, USA

THE world's only true island green takes the term 'water hazard' to new heights (or rather, depths).

'The Floating Green' – found at Coeur d'Alene's 14th hole – is not only a quixotic structural marvel of design, it is indeed an awesome sight to behold.

Due to the floating nature of the green's design and the ability to move its position at will thanks to an intricate underwater cable system, the 360-degree water hazard that is Lake Coeur d'Alene makes this an incredibly knee-knocking tee shot.

Usually playing anywhere between 140- 170 yards (128-155m), it can play as long as 220 yards from the championship tees.

Definitely a bucket-list experience, and one that – if you get it wrong – will bring water to your eyes.

'ISLAND GREEN'

TPC Sawgrass (Stadium)

Florida, USA

FROM one island green to the next best thing. While the famed 17th green at TPC Sawgrass' Stadium course might technically be a peninsula green, that doesn't make the water hazard around it any less difficult to avoid.

Home to THE PLAYERS Championship and thousands of sodden Titleists, this Pete and Alice Dye designed test is certainly one of the most famous man-made hazards in golf.

Considering this tiny par-3 is only 130-odd yards long yet still remains one of the most feared shots in the game for professionals and amateurs alike should tell us everything we need to know about how awesome this hazardous hole really is.

'TRAIN TRACKS'

Royal Colombo Golf Club

Colombo, SRI LANKA

AS IF there weren't enough challenges already in golf, up steps Colombo Golf Club with a unique hazard sure to send many rounds off the rails – literally.

Railway tracks adorn the border on several holes at this Sri Lankan layout, and tracks even run right in front of the sixth green, a hole aptly named 'Rail Crossing'.

Puts a whole new spin on 'training' your swing.

'CHURCH PEWS'

Oakmont Country Club Holes No. 3 & 4

Pennsylvania, USA

ONE thing that can quickly bring your game to its knees is a sand-filled crusade in one of the Church Pew bunkers at Oakmont Country Club.

Arguably the prettiest collection of sand-traps ever created, the dozen Church Pew shaped bunkers run in-between holes 3 and 4 at this iconic course, which most recently hosted the 2016 US Open.

Measuring roughly 90 metres in length and 35 metres in width, the Church Pews are collectively a unique yet prominent hazard you'll be praying to miss.

Amen.

'TOTALLY BUNKERS'

Whistling Straits Golf Course

Wisconsin, USA

THIS one is not 'a' hazard per se, but rather a collection of hazards that boggle the mind and challenge the game.

Welcome to Wisconsin's Whistling Straits, a diabolical Pete Dye layout boasting approximately 1000 bunkers on site.

Yep, one thousand.

And while many of these bunkers are not actually in play for most of us, the menacing visuals they present are enough to play on the steeliest of minds.

One for the wedge warriors, the sheer number of hazards gets Whistling Straits a spot on our list.

'ATLANTIC OCEAN'

Old Head Golf Links (12th Hole)

Kinsale, Co. Cork, Ireland

THERE are few hazards as steep, rugged or beautiful than that which confronts you on the 12th tee at Old Head Golf Links.

Set along ancient Kinsale clifftops, the Atlantic Ocean awaits any errant shot for the entirety of this 554-yard (506m) grand par-5.

Many snap-hooks have ended in the salty, watery void hundreds of feet below, but even more happy snaps have captured the site of one of the most truly awesome water hazards in the world.

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