Learning To Play in the Sand

For amateur golfers such as us, there is no single location that causes us more irritation than a bunker. Sure, being stuck in deep rough can be annoying, and smacking your shot wildly out of bounds is a nuisance, but a bunker. That is just a right bitch of a place.

The thing with bunkers is that you never know what lie you have until you get to the ball, which means that in your head, you cannot picture your shot. Golf is, as I am sure everybody reading this is aware, a very mental game. You play your opponent sure, but the biggest battle is against the course, and against yourself.

Not being able to prepare yourself for the next shot is an influential component to your game. You ball could have rolled in gently, it could be buried, it could be against the sand trap’s lip. Any number of possibilities exist.

However, there is a way to at least prepare yourself for a bunker shot. I admit, you will need to be prepared for the worst, but isn’t that always the best way.

Follow the simple steps I have outlined below, and you will find yourself not relishing your next trip to the bunker, but at least being less worried about the shot and more confident in the way you will play it.

Golf Bunker

Selecting the Right Tool for the Job

Selecting the correct club for the shot is important. To new amateur golfers, it is an easy mistake to make, to assume that the club called the Sand Wedge is the one you should always use when stuck in the sand. Yet, that does not have to be the case. If you are in a fairway bunker, well, you could use any club from your wedges through to a wood. These bunkers are usually flatter and pose less of the threat physically than their greenside counterparts.

Even then, however, a Sand Wedge might not always be the best solution. If you have a lot of green to work with, a large green or at least with the deepest part of it available to you, then yes, a Sand Wedge is good. It gives you the loft you need but also allows for that distance which will see you get nearer the pin. However, if you have a small green and not much room to work with, a different wedge, something with more loft is required, as it will ensure less movement on the ball, giving you the close quarter control that you need.

 Playing golf out of a bunker

Setting your Stance for a Solid Base

Playing golf out of a bunker you must understand that your foot positioning is also key. While your golf club cannot touch the sand, you can dig your way in as deep as you like. A strong and unshakable foundation is needed when playing bunker shots, and digging your heels into the ground is a great way to build that base and put you in a good position to play a successful shot.

Trajectory is also important when stuck in a bunker. Especially if you are greenside. These nasty bunkers tend to have steep faces, meaning you need to get the ball up and down in a short space of time. There is an easy way to do this, even for amateur golfers such as us; those who have not yet acquired the spin mastery of the professionals. If you position yourself so that the ball is closer to your front foot than the back, you are automatically putting yourself in position to generate a nice high shot that will sail over the wall of any bunker out there, and nestle itself on the green.

Golf Ball buried in a Bunker

The Mind is a Powerful Weapon

As I mentioned, the mind is a powerful tool when playing golf. However, it is also a tricky little devil. For it loves to play tricks on you. This is especially prevalent when playing what I like to call the out of bunker, bunker shot. This is when you find yourself short of the green with a daunting chip shot over a sand trap.

You approach the ball and tell yourself. I will not put this ball in the bunker. But, we are all told from young, negatives should be removed, and that is what your brain does. The hard you tell yourself to not put the ball in the bunker, the more your brain hears the instruction to do it.

So step up to the ball, see the green and don’t think about the bunker. Be confident in your own abilities and know that you will get the ball up and over.

 Golf Shot in Motion

Getting the Ball Up and Down

For amateur golfers such as us, getting the ball up and over, and onto the green is key. Sure, the closer to the hole, the better, but the name of the game is the green. So break your game down, forget about the PGA golfers and their sublime skills with the ball, and think about yourself. Think about getting the ball where it needs to be, and you will find your approach to not just bunker shots, but the game of golf in general will improve.

Of course, when playing golf with a friend, whether it is someone new or a long time playing partner, talk with one another, share advice and experiences. The more you get to know, the more you fall in love with this sport, and the better your game becomes as a result.


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