For almost 50 years, golfers have encountered (or avoided) a greenside bunker at the par-three 6th hole at Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course that’s shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head. It is, quite literally, “Mickey Mouse golf.”
The iconic and ironic bunker was completely rebuilt in 2017 and shortly thereafter two more Mickey-shaped bunkers were added at other Walt Disney World Resort courses: at the rear of the 9th hole at Lake Buena Vista and alongside the 9th green of the Oak Trail course.
While we’ve detailed some of golf’s greatest bunkers, the depth and breadth of courses that exist in the golf world beg the question: What are some of the strangest or most whimsically shaped bunkers in the game? Okay, maybe it doesn’t “beg,” but I couldn’t help but wonder about it when I stumbled across a wild picture of a long-gone par three at a private club I recently played near the New Jersey shore. In the initial design at Stone Harbor, golf architect Desmond Muirhead built a narrow, football-shaped island green that had crazy sawtooth flanking bunkers.
This was a hole at Stone Harbor GC in NJ, a Desmond Muirhead design. The hole no longer exists, unfortunately. It had to be one of the closest brushes of GCA against abstract sculpture in history. I’d like to think there’s room for a small handful of novelties like this in golf. pic.twitter.com/zCrpdGkjVm
— Tim Gavrich (@TimGavrich) August 11, 2018
While that hole, and those unusual bunkers, have gone the way of the mashie niblick, here are a few examples of fanciful or quirky bunkers that remain in play today around the U.S.
Cedars at Dungeness (Washington)
Perhaps not surprisingly, “Ole Crabby” lays claim to being the only bunker in the world shaped like a Dungeness crab. This unique hazard guards the green at Cedars’ par-five 3rd hole and the sand is actually red volcanic cinders brought in from Bend, Ore. As the course’s website warns: “Whatever you do, don’t get caught up in its claws.”
The Legend at Giants Ridge (Minnesota)
A giant footprint, albeit one with four toes, guards the left side of the fairway on this dogleg left par five. Tee shots that carry the distinctive bunker allow golfers a chance to go for the green in two. Find the footprint and it turns into a three-shot hole, at least.
King’s North at Myrtle Beach National (South Carolina)
Miss the green to the right on the par-three island green 12th hole at King’s North and you’ll be in the water. Miss to the left and you’ll end up in the course’s distinctive “S.C.” bunkers—yep, for South Carolina—and be left with a very delicate shot from the sand.
Highland National Golf Course (Minnesota)
When Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz was young, he caddied and learned the game at Highland National, then later continued to play at the course when he lived in St. Paul. To commemorate Schulz, who died in 2000, the course designed a large bunker on the par-four 15th hole shaped like Charlie Brown’s famous dog, Snoopy.
Cottonwood Valley Golf Course (Texas)
The members’ course at the Four Seasons Las Colinas outside Dallas features an opening hole that has a bunker shaped like the state of Oklahoma behind a green that’s shaped like the state of Texas. This long par four that plays over water is not only the course’s most distinctive hole, it’s also considered the most challenging.
Black Bear Golf Course (Minnesota)
Another entry from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, this northern Minnesota layout owned and operated by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa features a signature bear paw sand trap. The bunker guards the left side of the fairway on the par-five 7th hole—the longest on the course.
Lakewood Golf Club (Louisiana)
While there are holes at other properties that have bunkers with red sand or black slag, the closing hole at this New Orleans course, nicknamed “Fire in the Hole,” sets a new standard. The bunkers around the green are shaped like flames and are full of red sand, a tribute to local firefighters.
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So, whether inside the U.S. or out, are there any curious or wacky bunker shapes you’ve encountered? Let us know.