Making Smart Greenside Bunker Decisions

In golf, you never get a break from the decision-making process. From the time you walk to the first tee to the time your ball drops in on the last green, you need to make a constant stream of decisions. Which club am I going to use for this shot? How is the wind going to affect the flight of the ball? Should I play it safe on this shot, or should I go for the green? The mental demands of golf are ever-present, and they will follow you into the bunkers as well. You’ll need to make smart choices in the sand if you are going to avoid making costly mistakes.

So, how does decision making relate to the topic of varying your distances from greenside bunkers? You need to make sure that you are attempting shots which are realistic for your skills and wise given the situation at hand. First, on the topic of trying realistic shots. Let’s say, for example, that you struggle in practice with long greenside bunker shots. This is nothing to be ashamed of, as many players have trouble in this area. Knowing that this is a weak point in your game, should you attempt this shot on the course? Probably not. If you are in a situation where you need a long shot from a greenside trap, you may be better off playing the ball short onto another section of the green. You probably won’t wind up with an up and down when you play it safe, but you can avoid getting yourself into more trouble.

When it comes to thinking about the situation at hand, you need to step back and think about your round as a whole. In the moment, it is easy to think that you absolutely have to get up and down to keep your round on track. But is that really the case? Probably not. Making a single bogey usually isn’t that big of a deal, as long as you don’t let it derail you for several holes to come. You’d always love to hit a great bunker shot and save your par, but that may not be possible given the situation you are facing. Take an honest assessment of the circumstances and make a decision that puts you in the best position not just for this single hole, but for the entire round.

It’s always going to be a challenge to control the distance of your bunker shots. With that said, you can greatly improve your performance in this area of the game if you are simply willing to practice. Find a practice facility near you which offers a practice bunker and get down to work. As you gain experience and confidence, you’ll notice that your play on the course quickly improves. Good luck!