After 2 costly double bogeys, pro says he’s annoyed by Bay Hill feature

Will Zalatoris

Will Zalatoris hits a shot on Saturday on the 15th hole at Bay Hill.

Getty Images

Will Zalatoris says he’s keeping count. 

He’s now played the Arnold Palmer Invitational four times. And over those four times, he says, he knows exactly how often his golf ball has plugged in a bunker at Bay Hill, the API’s host course. 

Nineteen times. 

Really? He’s remembering that?

“Here, yes,” Zalatoris said. 

“So do a lot of guys here, yeah.”

The 27-year-old star was talking after Saturday’s third round at the Arnold Palmer, where he stumbled late. Leading early in the day, he bogeyed the 14th, double-bogeyed the 15th and double-bogeyed the 18th on his way to a one-under 71, and he’ll start Sunday’s final round two strokes behind leaders Scottie Scheffler and Shane Lowry

But on each of those holes, Zalatoris had hit into a bunker — and twice, he said, his ball plugged, and therein lied his frustration. Notably, he also joined the company of two others who have voiced displeasure to reporters. 

Zalatoris’ issue, he said, came during sequences on the 15th and 18th holes. On the 461-yard, par-4 15th, he hit into the right fairway bunker off the tee — only to find his ball “half-plugged,” and he advanced it just 47 yards on his second shot. Then, on the 439-yard, par-4 18th, he dropped his second shot into the left greenside bunker — where he again found his ball plugged, and he hit off the green with his third shot.   

“So, needless to say,” Zalatoris said, “the bunkers aren’t really my favorite here.”

Two years ago, Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton said much the same thing

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy was seething. Then he did something likely no one has ever done
By: Nick Piastowski

In Hovland’s case, he’d been tied for the lead on the penultimate hole of the tournament — but his ball plugged into a greenside bunker and he bogeyed. Afterward he said this: “Yeah, I don’t know why kind of these places seem to fill up the bunkers with sand pretty close to the tournament. I would consider myself pretty fortunate. I only had two plug lies this week, but I’m sure a lot of guys had more than that. It is what it is. Don’t hit in the bunkers. I’m not a big fan of putting more sand in the bunkers right before a tournament. Or I don’t know if they did that or not, but there seemed to be a lot of sand in there. Yeah, it’s the same for everyone. It’s just a little unfortunate that I hit a terrible shot on 17, and that was the lie I drew.”

Hatton concurred.

“Well, I plugged in four bunkers this week. You can say they’re a hazard and you shouldn’t be hitting in them, but typically there’s not many courses we play throughout the year where it plugs as consistently as it has this week. I don’t know why that is. Even some of the shots I’ve hit in there have been coming in low and hot, and they’ve still plugged whereas normally you’d expect them to, on those ones, they’d hit and probably release out a little bit.

“The ones that you spin up into the wind, yeah, they’ve got more chance of plugging, but there’s been a few that have been a bit surprising. I guess you could say that’s bad luck, but at the same time, you shouldn’t be hitting them in those bunkers.”

Good point. 

This all being said, there is at least one solution:

Don’t hit into the sand. 

Jake knapp bay hill
Bay Hill’s famous hazard gets revenge — pro makes 12 in painful fashion
By: Sean Zak

“You hit good golf shots, you’re going to get rewarded,” Zalatoris said. “You hit some mediocre golf shots, you’re going to get penalized real quick. Like the shot I had on 15, just, I pushed it six yards right of where I was looking and I’ve got a pseudo-plugged lie for a second shot hitting an 8-iron. That’s just Bay Hill. You kind of take what it gives you. You get away making a bunch of 15-footers today, you kind of get away with it and tip your cap. I think I was 5-under through 11 or 12 or whatever it was. You take that stretch and you kind of spread it out over the last 36 holes, I probably wouldn’t be as disappointed. Playing great golf. 

“I really hit three bad shots that cost me five shots.”

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at