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Carroll pro wants to debunk criticism of U.S. sand traps


The way Piney Branch professional Jeff Zachman sees it, there is no need to change the design of U.S. golf bunkers.

In recent years there has been ever-growing pressure to make sand-trap play more punishing for golfers. You watch tour players on television and never have a concern that your favorite performer is trapped. Some contestants admit they would rather be trapped than anywhere else whenever their ball misses a green.

So what happened to the old belief that a trap was something to fear?

According to Zachman, recovery from the sand still is not a sure thing.

"There's no doubt that premier players have almost perfected sand shots," he said. "But, tour records reveal that contestants still recover for one-putt greens less than 50 percent of the time.

"And how about the average golfer?" he added. "It wouldn't make sense to toughen the bunkers for him. After all, he still has all he can handle getting out of them as they are."

Still, there are golf architects who insist that bunkers have

become obsolete. Officials have been approached to make a decision on methods for toughening the traps.

An initial idea is for events sponsoring tour play to have the bunkers redesigned to make them more severe.

A striking contrast between U.S. and British-style bunkers was on display in the British Open. Unlike the wide, open-mouth traps on the American tour, the British traps forced contestants to struggle from deep, pit-like conditions. Often the steep banks of the bunkers were taller than the players.

If golf committee officials really are serious about making changes in toughening trap play, perhaps the easiest method would be to pass up maintenance in the traps.

As it is now, special sand is imported to fill U.S. traps, and rakes are always accessible to allow golfers to manicure the sand carefully after each shot. If traps carried only their native, unprocessed sand, and if golfers merely used a foot rather than a rake to smooth the sand, there would be more reason to avoid traps.

Not only would players be left with something less than a perfect lie, they also would have to adjust to the various types of native sands.

Possibly the biggest obstacle in changing designs for bunkers is aesthetics.

Most golf architects have fallen in love with golf greens flanked with white, shallow traps, perched on hillsides, framing a picturesque backdrop for the hole.

* The proposed new golf course -- River Downs in Finksburg -- continues to make progress.

Officials say most of the rights of way for construction have been cleared and plans are being made to break ground on the project next spring.

* Wakefield Valley has qualified a pair of low-gross teams and a low-net combination for regional competition in the Oldsmobile Scramble Tourney on Sept. 8.

The leading gross team, posting 61, included Mike Wah, G. Hibbard, Gary Watson and Nate Jenkins. Second gross with 64 went to the foursome of Wayne Fountain, Gary Witt, Fred Jenkins and Clayton Jacobson.

The low-net team, scoring 59, included George Tears, Dan Shipp, Bruce Coyle and Mike Holland.

The regional qualifying also is listed at Wakefield. The entire Middle Atlantic section will enter this phase of the competition. Winning teams will compete at Florida's Disney World, Oct. 8-12.


Other local golf news:

* Piney Branch -- A hole in one was turned in by Sal Liberto on the 146-yard ninth hole. He used a 7-wood.

* Bear Creek -- Men's League winners: Jim Horn with low gross of 41. Low-net leaders were Jack Keating, 37, and Fuzzy Corum, 37.

Winners of the Stableford competition were Al Potts, Jim Glover, Roy Braley and Charles Amereihn.

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