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Phil Mickelson’s strategy at the U.S. Open strengthens the argument for furrowed bunkers

Bunkers are supposed to be hazards. Old Tom Morris said they are meant to be places of punishment and repentance.

But today’s player attck the pins and gleefully spin the ball close to the hole for scoring chances.

Phil Mickelson plays the 307 yard par-4 6th hole by trying to put the ball in the bunker to try to position himself for a birdie. He’d would have had to chip in to do it today, since the bunker shot went long, but he birdied it yesterday.

Many pundits think such strategy should not be rewarded. “Henry Fownes, the designer of Oakmont said ‘a shot poorly struck, should be a shot irrevocably lost. He’s the the guy who put furrows in the bunkers there'” opined MSNBC’s veteran golf writer Mike Celizic.

Jack Nicklaus added furrows to the bunkers at Muirfield Village for the Memorial Tournament and while the pros cried like Nancy Kerrigan others praised the bold move. Another old-time golf writer, Kaye Kessler applauded Nicklaus’ courage. “The furrows are a great idea. The bunkers have become too easy with all the new equipment. A hazard should be a hazard.

More than one writer echoed the sentiments of Charles Blair Macdonald, the designer of National Golf Links of America (among others), run a herd of elephants through the bunkers before the pros get there.

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