Part 1: Sand Bunker Play
in a Fairway Bunker
Am I the only one who finds sand bunker play to be horribly difficult?
I would ask "Are there any sand trap secrets that will allow a beginner to get out of sand
In the not too distant
past, I knew that if I ended up in a sand trap bunker near the green it would cost me at least
two, three or even four strokes to get out. It was so embarrassing.. I would try hard to make a
smooth on-plane swing but either I would:
- watch the ball move
six inches and the surrounding sand fly right to the hole or;
- catch most of the ball
with the club face and send the ball over the green and potentially into the other side’s bunker.
If you watch the pro tour,
it seems like many of those guys would prefer to end up in the bunker as it presents a large target or may keep
them from getting into worse trouble. Many of them expect to get out smoothly with a chance to sink the shot as
well. That is incredible to me, given how hard this type of shot seemed to me.
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A sand bunker shot in golf
is a trouble shot that is intended to penalize a player for an inaccurately hit golf shot. Most beginning golfers will find their ball in the bunkers at least twice per
every 9 holes, and possibly much more.
Typically, a bunker is an
obstacle that is concave and contains sand, which requires a certain level of expertise to properly exit
depending on the lie of your ball. People are usually told during golf swing techniques training that sand
bunker shots are very difficult to properly execute. In my
experience, proper technique and mental approach to the shot simplifies it greatly.
I have found really good
advice on the internet regarding tips and techniques for exiting the sand bunker with potential for getting
close to the hole, if properly executed.
Please note that not all
bunkers are created equal. I definitely treat fairway bunker shots differently from greenside bunker shots.
Also, some bunkers are designed to have extremely high risk vs. reward ratios. An example might be a bunker
which has a very high face or wall you must cross to get to the green but is flat on the sides. This is an
example of when your mental approach must be to take the safe play to save a stroke or possibly
- Get Out of Fairway Bunkers with "Pizzazz"
Because most fairway bunker
shots leave you with a decent sight line toward the cup, my goal is to get out cleanly and advance the ball down the
fairway. I don’t feel that one should treat this shot differently
from being in the rough.
However, the rules state
that you can’t take a practice swing that disturbs the surrounding sand, thus the difficulty of making proper
contact with the ball for the beginner. Knowing that you have a
consistent and repeatable swing should help you a great deal here.
Advice that has worked for
me and allowed me to get out of fairway bunkers easily should also work for you!
First, setup so the ball is
in the middle of your stance, then back down a club length or two or choke down on your chosen
club. You want to hit the ball with precision first then send it
with a gain in positive yardage and direction. Keep your expectations realistic. Choking down allows you to
get closer the ball and increases your accuracy. If I have a lie that is not buried, I will use a hybrid club
because it provides loft, bounce and length which should provide a good return for your troubles.
Please note that I don’t do
a usual sand bunker swing and shot from a fairway bunker unless I just want to get back onto the fairway a few
yards away due to unfavorable risk/reward.
Second, slow down your
typical swing to about 75% of normal. This also helps you increase
impact accuracy and increases the chance of a positive result.
Third, try to pick the ball
cleanly (if you have a good lie) by hitting ball at the bottom of your stroke, then taking sand on the follow through. If you don’t have a good lie, then
aim to hit the sand about two millimeters before the ball and ensure that your swing is entering the point just
before the bottom of your swing arc. The club face angle and your
swing speed should take care of the rest of the work. If you have a
really buried lie, you have to play it as if you were in a green-side bunker and just get out
See Page 2 for Exit Strategies for Green Side Bunkers
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