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Spare a thought for the greenkeepers at Royal Liverpool.

In addition to all of their other daily tasks, the 46-strong groundstaff had to spend some time before play got under way in round two of The Open making significant changes to the bunkers on the Hoylake course.

First reported by Sky Sports’ Jamie Weir, the R&A instructed the greenkeeping crew to build up bunker edges this morning to allow more balls to roll back to the centre.

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This was confirmed by the R&A on Friday morning.

“Yesterday afternoon, the bunkers dried out more than we have seen in recent weeks and that led to more balls running straight up against the face than we would normally expect,” read a statement.

“We have therefore raked all of the bunkers slightly differently to take the san up one revet on the face of the bunkers.

“We routinely rake bunkers flat at most Open venues but decided this adjustment was appropriate in light of the drier conditions which arose yesterday.”

The organisers have pledged to monitor this closely for the remainder of the championship.

The change follows complaints from several players who felt the traps were too punishing on the opening day.

Masters champ Jon Rahm described them as “proper penalty structures”, whilst playing partner Rory McIlroy – who, like Rahm, struggled to escape a greenside trap at 18 – said “you’re sort of riding your luck” when you hit it into one of them.

Shane Lowry, who won the championship at Royal Portrush in 2019, added: “It’s the most well-bunkered golf course that we play. They’re everywhere, and they’re very penal.”

Scotland’s Richie Ramsay is one of the biggest golf course design enthusiasts on tour and had some interesting observations on the bunkers after his opening round.

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Asked what impact flattening them had, the four-time DP World Tour winner said: “It’s heavily, heavily underrated how much of a difference that makes, like they do at St Andrews. If there’s an element of rise at the bottom of the face, it works two-fold.

“If the ball goes up, it’s obviously giving you loft straight off the back, but when the ball comes down it obviously will feed in more into the middle of the bunker.”

He added: “I got caught today on one sort of leg, knee up on the side. It’s just part of links golf. You’ve got to take it on the chin. But you’re very wary of hitting into a bunker knowing that you could be like a foot from the face with seven feet in front of you.”

There are 82 bunkers on the course.

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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