Practice Bunker Shot Advice

Most amateur golfers completely overlook the need to practice their bunker game. They practice just about everything else – drivers, irons, chipping, putting, etc. – but the bunker game is ignored. Of course, the failure to practice out of the sand quickly shows up on the course when the player struggles to even get the ball out of the trap and back onto the grass. You can’t have any glaring holes in your game if you are going to lower your scores moving forward, so it’s about time you put in some practice effort to improve on greenside and fairway bunker shots.

The first thing you will need to do on this point is find somewhere to practice. Some golf facilities fail to offer any practice bunkers at all, so do your best to find somewhere near home where you can work on this valuable skill. With any luck, you will find a facility that has both a bunker in the short game area and a bunker next to the driving range for long shots.

Once you have a place to practice, use the following tips to work on taking just the right amount of sand for each type of shot.

  • Use a visual cue. For greenside bunker explosion shots, use a visual cue in the bunker to work on taking precisely the right amount of sand with each swing. The easiest thing to do is simply draw a line in the sand behind the ball to make your intended contact point. Estimate how far behind the ball you should hit for the shot you are working on, and draw a line perpendicular to the target line. Then, as you make your swing, keep your eyes trained on that spot. As long as the club goes into the sand at the right point, you should be happy with the outcome. If the shot doesn’t play out as you would like, adjust your aim point and try again. Obviously, you aren’t allowed to do this during an actual round of golf, but it is perfectly fine in practice. Then, when you are playing on the course, you can just visualize the line instead of actually drawing it.
  • Vary shot length. With a little practice, it isn’t particularly difficult to blast the ball just over the edge of the bunker and onto the green. In fact, this is one of the easier shots in golf, once you get the hang of it. What is much more difficult, however, is hitting a long explosion shot to the other side of the green. Such a shot takes serious skill, and you’ll need to put in plenty of work to make it happen. As you practice, vary the length of your greenside bunker shots so you are prepared for as many situations as possible on the course.
  • Start simple with fairway bunker shots. As mentioned earlier, fairway bunker shots are hard – really hard. As you practice, start out easy to build up some confidence. Hit some relatively short shots with a nine iron or pitching wedge, and always give yourself a good lie. Only when you start to see good results should you work your way up to longer clubs. Remember, keeping your head still is an essential key on these shots, so make that one fundamental your main focus. Many golfers find that working on their fairway bunker swing actually helps them improve their ball striking from the grass, as well.

The best advice you can get with regard to bunker practice is simply that you do need to practice. You aren’t going to get better if you ignore these shots, and they will only become a bigger problem on the course. Work on your sand play and turn this from a weakness into a strength.