Committing to a Plan For Long Bunker Shots

Golf is a game that is all about planning. For each shot that you hit during the course of a round – whether that is 70 shots or 100 shots – you need to have a plan. Sometimes, the plan is relatively simple. For instance, on a tee shot to a wide fairway, you are going to grab your driver and pick a target near the middle of the short grass. Or, on a short putt, you are likely to aim right in the middle of the hole and make a smooth stroke. Unfortunately, not all the shots you hit during the course of a round can be handled with such a simple plan.

Long bunker shots require some of the most specific planning that you’ll need to do on the course. Among other things, you need to decide on the club you will use for the shot, where you want the ball to land, and the kind of swing you will use. Each long bunker shot is different, so you always need to develop a new plan each time you find yourself in this kind of situation.

To help you develop a smart plan on your long bunker shots, we have put together the following tips.

  • You don’t have to aim for the hole. It might seem like you should always aim directly for the hole on a long bunker shot, but that doesn’t have to be the case. As you work on your plan, give strong consideration to the idea of playing to a safe spot from where you can two putt and move on. The chances of getting up and down on a long bunker shot are relatively slow, so there is no shame in just planning on using three shots to do the job. A big part of planning in golf is finding ways to take risk out of the game. You can never eliminate all risk on the course, but you can opt for easier paths in order to take away some of the potentially negative outcomes.
  • Use the ground to your advantage. You are going to find that it is usually easier to play the ball along the ground in this situation than trying to fly it all the way to the hole. Dialing up exactly the right distance when trying to carry the ball the full distance is extremely difficult. It’s not impossible, but your frequency of success is almost sure to go up when you let the ball bounce and run for more of its journey. This won’t always be an option, of course – like when playing a shot that travels uphill for most of its duration – but keep it in mind and choose to play the ball low to the ground whenever you can.
  • Be realistic. If you haven’t had much of an opportunity to practice long bunker shots, do you really think that you are going to be able to pull one off in the middle of a round? Probably not. Another key component of good game planning is simply knowing when you are up against a shot that falls outside of your comfort zone. Rather than forcing yourself to hit a shot you know you can’t handle, play it safe and stick with an option that falls within your skill set.

You should always do your best to be fully committed to the shot you have selected before ever putting the club in motion. This is a great rule of thumb that you should stick with throughout your entire game. It’s easy to make the mistake of skipping out on a game plan, especially when you know you are facing a tough shot. Since this shot is so hard, you might just rush up to the ball and make a swing in order to get it over with. Don’t make that mistake. Plan out all of your shots, even your long bunker shots, and look forward to seeing improved results.