Four Keys to Improve Your Greenside Bunker Play

Apr 12, 2019 Sand bunkers surrounding hole

Most golf courses use sand bunkers as a way to challenge golfers and make the overall design more interesting. Some courses use just a few, placed in strategic spots to make golfers think twice. Other courses litter them across the landscape, making it almost inevitable that you will visit at least one or two before the day is done.

If you’d like to reach your goals as a golfer, you will need to have a plan to handle golf sand shots. In addition to developing your bunker game, also consider using a golf simulator, to prepare yourself as thoroughly as possible for the challenges you’ll face during your actual rounds.

Let’s take a look at our four keys related to how to hit a bunker shot.

#1 – Don’t Hit the Ball

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about greenside bunker shots is that you want to “miss” the ball in most instances. Assuming you have a decent amount of soft sand under your ball, the goal is to hit 1 to 2 inches behind the golf ball and let the sand do the work. This is different than a shot played from grass, of course, where you will be trying to strike the ball cleanly with the club.

If you can learn how to hit behind the ball and blast it out on a cushion of sand, you’ll find that your bunker play improves dramatically.

#2 – Focus on the Escape

As you get ready to play your greenside bunker shot, it will be easy to picture yourself hitting a beautiful shot that settles only a couple feet from the hole—or maybe even goes in! Those kinds of thoughts are great for your confidence, but you need to avoid getting carried away.

If you focus too much on hitting a perfect shot, you may take on too much risk and wind up leaving your ball in the bunker. The first goal of your bunker shots should always be simply to escape the sand.

#3 – Pay Attention to Sand Conditions

When hitting out of sand, the condition of the sand you are playing from will have a lot to do with how the ball comes out of the trap. When the sand is soft and fluffy, as is often the case in the middle of the summer, you should expect the ball to come out softly and, perhaps, with not very much spin (although that depends on the lie).

On the other hand, shots played from firm, wet sand will usually come out quick and have quite a bit of spin. As you gain experience with bunker shots, you will get more and more comfortable with adjusting to sand conditions.

#4 - Practice

We can’t emphasize this last point enough—you need to practice your bunker game if you want to improve! That might sound obvious, but many golfers seem to ignore this important piece of the golf puzzle. Find a golf facility with a practice bunker and make it a point to spend at least a few minutes in the sand as part of your routine.

sand trap to the left of golf hole

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