4 Planning Techniques for Greenside Bunker Shots

    For this article, we are going to imagine that you are out on the course, and you find your ball in a greenside bunker. What thought process do you go through when trying to decide how to play your shot? Are you going to spin it, or are you going to play a traditional explosion? Which club are you going to use? In the list below, we are going to answer these questions, and more.

  • Look for the easiest path. As you walk down into the bunker, your first goal should be to figure out what is going to be the easiest path from your lie in the sand up to the hole. Too many golfers pick difficult shots as a way to show off their skills, but that is a mistake. Instead, you should always be looking for the easiest option available. Remember, golf is a hard game, so you don’t need to make it any harder by picking the wrong types of shots. Go into the bunker with an open mind and only setup to make your swing when you are sure you’ve decided on the easiest available shot.
  • Assess your lie. As part of the preparation process, you will want to take a careful look at how the ball is sitting in the sand. If it is sitting down, you can pretty much eliminate using spin as a way to stop the ball. Your bunker shots simply aren’t going to spin much when the ball is down in the sand – rather than trying to fight against that fact, you should accept it and plan your shot accordingly. On the other hand, if you have a clean lie with no sand up around the sides of the ball, you should be able to consider going for the spin option. As you are reading your lie, remember to think about the slope under the ball as well. Shots hit from an upslope will usually fly higher, and may be at risk of coming up short. Shots hit from a downslope, however, will typically come out low and take a big bounce or two after they land.
  • Confirm your club selection. Most golfers have a club that they prefer to use for the majority of their greenside bunker shots. And there is nothing wrong with that kind of loyalty – it is actually a good thing to build confidence with one club that you can turn to in most cases when you need to splash the ball out of the sand. However, you shouldn’t feel obligated to use that club in every circumstance, as there are times when it will be best to switch things up. This is especially true on long greenside bunker shots, where you might want to use less loft than normal in order to cover the distance.
  • To spin or not to spin. Think about the path you’ve decided to use to reach the hole, and decide whether or not it will be necessary to use spin on this shot. Does the ball need help coming to a stop, or can you let it roll out toward the hole before coming to a stop naturally after running out of speed? As we have mentioned throughout this article, spin can be a handy tool, but you only want to use it when necessary. Feel free to opt for the spinning option if it will help you reach the target, but only go this way if it really is going to provide a meaningful benefit.
  • It is important not to rush when getting ready to hit your greenside bunker shots. You might be a little annoyed that you are in this position in the first place, so you may be tempted to just rush down into the sand to play the shot quickly and get it over with. This is a mistake, of course. You need to think carefully about the shot you are going to hit, and the risks and benefits associated with that shot. Only when you are happy with the decision you have made should you step in and swing away.