How to Stay Out of Bunkers

We are shifting gears for a moment in this article. Rather than talking about your bunker play, we are going to talk about avoiding bunker play. That is, we are going to offer some tips for staying out of bunkers as often as possible. While it is great – and important – to improve your skills in the sand, what’s even better is to just avoid the sand in the first place. By executing a smart strategy, you can keep your ball on the grass more frequently.

  • Manage distance off the tee. Most golfers think about missing fairway bunkers just by taking a line that avoids them. That’s okay if you actually hit your target line, but what if you miss by just a few yards? Suddenly, you could be heading right for the middle of a deep trap. As a better strategy, think about playing short or long of the bunker. If you choose a club that takes the bunker out of play, you don’t have to be quite as precise with your line. This will take a bit of the pressure off of your tee shot, and you might wind up making a better swing as a result.
  • Watch for collection areas. Sometimes, you don’t even have to hit the ball into a bunker to wind up in a bunker. Golf course designers will occasionally use bunkers that have collection areas all around them to gather up golf balls and bring them into the sand. So, even if the bunker is relatively small, it might play quite large. This is really only a factor when turf conditions are firm, since the ball usually won’t roll down a gentle slope on soft turf. As you are planning any shot where a bunker is in play, look at the area around the bunker to see if it might collect an errant shot.
  • Give some bunkers more respect than others. A relatively shallow bunker near a green might not be much of a hazard, and you may have a pretty easy up and down chance if you wind up in it. The same cannot be said for a deep bunker that is 30 or 40 yards from the putting surface. In other words, all bunkers are not created equal. Assess the risk presented by a given bunker and then decide how aggressive you are willing to be with your shot.

Taking the right amount of sand on a bunker shot is just one of many elements that need to come together properly in order to wind up with a successful outcome. With that said, this is an important point, and it is one worth thinking about as you practice It’s pretty simple for fairway bunker shots – just pick the ball clean and avoid the sand to the greatest extent possible. On explosion shots, vary the amount of sand you take based on the length of the shot and the condition of the bunker. We hope our tips will help you improve your bunker play in short order – good luck!