Admire Mystic Dunes’ trademark bunkers — but only from afar

It is possible to get out of the whiskey-barrel bunkers, but be careful.

The other day we reviewed the enjoyable Mystic Dunes Golf Club and sang its praises as a must-play in Orlando, just a couple miles away from Walt Disney World.

You’ll enjoy the two unique nines, offering sand dunes on one and tree-lined fairways on the other, and especially admire the “whiskey-barrel” bunkers throughout the course.

Note the word “admire,” not “sample.”

Mystic Dunes’ most memorable features are best enjoyed while walking past them, maybe even with a camera in hand. But these bunkers, with faces of vertically-aligned railroad ties as high as eight feet (resembling a portion of a giant whiskey barrel dropped into the ground), are an absolute must-avoid if you want your scorecard intact.

“Not quite your hell bunker, but definitely you’re going to be hitting backwards out of it if you’re anywhere toward the front of the bunker,” Mystic Dunes assistant pro Nick Slattery said.

The faces are slightly angled away from the bunker to allow any skulled shots a chance to ricochet above a player’s head rather than right back at them. Slattery could tell you a few tales.

One time, a player trying to carry the bunker with his drive on the par-4 sixth hole came up a few yards short and his ball plugged firmly between two of the wood pieces. He had to take an unplayable lie, drop into the bunker, and play out backwards.

Good stories but far better heard, not experienced.

THE TIP

It is possible to get out of the bunker and toward the hole, with the ball lying back enough from the wall. But don't get cute.

“It sounds repetitive, but keeping your head down is most important,” Slattery said. “People tend to look up on every shot, but especially on a bunker shot where you’ve got to hit it up high. The longer you keep your head and back down, the higher up the ball is going to come off the clubface. I just tell people, don’t get greedy, you would rather get out of the bunker and towards the hole then all the way to the hole.”

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