Whistling Straits Bunkers - What You Need To Know

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The bunkers at Whistling Straits have caused a fair amount of controversy over the years - here's what you need to know ahead of the 2020 Ryder Cup.

Whistling Straits Bunkers - What You Need To Know

Nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan, Whistling Straits has hosted three PGA Championships as is about to host the Ryder Cup for the very first time.

Despite only being just over 20 years old, the course has had its fair share on controversy surrounding the 1012 bunkers situated on the Straits Course.

Ahead of the 2020 Ryder Cup, the PGA of America have sent a clear message to the players to assure there is no repeat of the controversy that cost Dustin Johnson the PGA Championship in 2010.

At that event, Johnson grounded his club in a trampled down area in the right rough on the 18th hole.

As the area had been so heavily worn by spectators, Johnson didn't realise he was in fact in one of the 1012 bunkers on the course.

By grounding his club in a bunker, Johnson received a two stroke penalty and the par he made became a double bogey, costing him a place in the playoff with Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson.

Related: 6 Of The Best Ryder Cups In History (opens in new tab)

The Whistling Straits bunkers cost Dustin Johnson the chance at winning his first Major in 2010.

Ahead of the Ryder Cup, players from Team USA and Team Europe were given a polite reminder that all bunkers, sandy areas and waste areas dotted around the course will indeed be played as bunkers.

The announcement reads, "All areas of the course that were designed and built as bunkers (Rule 12) will be played as bunkers during the Ryder Cup."

"Bunkers inside the gallery rope line will be raked each morning prior to play and touched up again between sessions. Rakes are provided for the caddies allowing bunkers to be smoothed as a courtesy to other players and for care of the course. During play, footprints, indentations, vehicular damage or uneven surfaces may develop. However, whether inside or outside the gallery rope line, relief without penalty is NOT allowed for interference by any of these alterations to the surface of the ground, whether or not smoothed."

This announcement is a departure from the rules present at the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, where the PGA of America defined all sandy areas as waste areas, which allowed players to ground their clubs all week.

No doubt, the PGA of America will be desperate to avoid the controversial ending of the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and this clear ruling should hopefully provide us with unambiguous event this time around.

Dan Parker
Staff Writer

Dan is a Staff Writer and has been with the Golf Monthly team since 2021. Dan graduated with a Masters in International Journalism from the University of Sussex and primarily looks after equipment reviews and buyer's guides, specializing in golf shoe and golf cart reviews. Dan has now tested and reviewed over 30 pairs of golf shoes for the website and magazine with his current favorite pair being the Ecco Biom C4. A left-handed golfer, his handicap index is currently 8.5 and he plays at Fulford Heath Golf Club in the West Midlands. His best day in golf so far was shooting 76 at Essendon Golf Club on his first-ever round with his Golf Monthly colleagues. Dan also runs his own cricket podcast and website in his spare time. 


Dan is currently playing: 


Driver: Ping G425 Max 

Fairway: Ping G425 Max 

Hybrid: Ping G425 

Irons: Ping i59 (4-PW) 

Wedges: Ping Glide Forged Pro

Putter: Wilson Staff Infinite Buckingham 

Ball: TaylorMade TP5 Pix