Watching the British Open Championship, one of the things American viewers notice immediately is the bunkers. They’re different than the bunkering most American golfers see on the PGA Tour and what they experience when they play golf themselves.
For one thing, bunkers at links courses in the British Open Championship are typically strategic in size. They’re often small, and they’re designed as hazards, trying to create a cramped space in which a player would struggle to advance the ball or get the next shot close to the target.
Other than the bunkers being small, golf fans should notice the riveted face of the bunkers. However, while a golf fan will notice the bunker face, they may not know what a riveted bunker face is or how it’s achieved.
A riveted face in a bunker is a wall of the bunker which is designed to provide stability for the rest of the trap, which is fundamentally a hole in the ground. At links courses, riveted faces are designed to build a firm, steep face to make the trap more penal. The riveted face is created by building the face with layers of sod, one on top of another, so the wall can be built as steep as it needs to be. For greenside bunkers, the riveted face is typically steeper, though there are a number of special bunkers in the Open rota which have steep, riveted faces.
While the riveted face of sod provides additional penalty to getting in the bunker, the rest of the bunker is typically unwalled so balls can roll in from pretty much any other angle, often with fairway grass giving way to the sand quickly. These bunkers are designed to gobble up poor and unfortunate shots, then delivering the bad news to the golfer when they get there with a view of a steep, riveted face.