Greenside Bunker Practice Drill

Most amateur golfers never practice their bunker game. It is common for the average player to spend their entire practice session on the driving range, hitting full shot after full shot. If this player does bother to work on his or her short game, that work will probably involve nothing more than a few putts and maybe a couple chips. The short game is regularly neglected, to be sure, and that is one of the reasons that so many golfers struggle to take strokes off their average score.

Needless to say, you are going to need to be willing to work on your bunker game if you hope to improve. Since this article is all about distance control in greenside bunkers, we have laid out a drill below that will help you develop this specific skill. Let’s get started!

  • The first step, of course, is finding a practice bunker to use for this drill. Unfortunately, this can be a little difficult in certain areas. If there isn’t a practice bunker available at your local course, call around to other courses in the area to find out if they offer this amenity. Hopefully, there will be at least one or two options close enough to work for you.
  • Once you have found a place to practice, you will want to set up for the drill by taking five golf balls and your sand wedge from your bag. Step down into the bunker and place the balls on the sand. As you look up toward the target green, find two holes that you can use for your targets. These holes should be relatively lined up (from your perspective in the bunker) and there should be a fair amount of distance between them (at least 10 yards, ideally).
  • With your two target holes identified, you are going to go ahead and hit the first shot. The goal with this first shot is to hit the ball past the first target hole, but not by much. You can think of that first target hole as a minimum distance for the shot. The objective is to pass that hole by maybe a yard or two, at the most. If you do this successfully, you will move on to the next ball.
  • For your second shot, you are going to try to hit the ball past the point where the first ball came to rest – but still keep the second shot short of the other target hole. Basically, you are gradually working your way out toward that hole, one swing at a time. If your second shot is successful, you move on to the third with the same goal (hitting the ball farther than the shot previous, but still short of the longer hole.
  • This drill is completed successfully when all five shots have been successful. That is, the first shot traveled past the short hole, the next four shots traveled farther than the previous shot, and none of the shots went past the long hole. This is sometimes called a ‘ladder drill’, as each new shot can be thought of as an additional rung on the ladder. This is a relatively simple drill, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that it is easy. In fact, it is quite difficult to make it through all five shots successfully.

This is the perfect practice drill for working on your distance control. It is going to require you to gradually increase the distance of your shots, meaning you will have to make minor adjustments as you go. There are a variety of options you’ll have available when trying to get through this drill. On option is to use the same basic technique on every shot, while just adding a bit of speed to your swing each time. Or, you could keep the speed of the swing the same while using less and less loft as the drill goes on. Try various approaches and see which works best for you. Then, when you are on the course, you will have far more confidence in your ability to dial up the right distance for the shots you face.