Best Ways To Get Over A Golf Bunker 1

You are on the golf course and you have to get up and down on the last hole to win the match, however you are faced with a shot most golfers dread. A golf shot over a bunker on to a green.

Without the bunker, it is an easy shot without much complication, however if you place a bunker in between you and the target, it suddenly becomes a different shot completely. Psychologically, it is a much more challenging shot even though the aim of the shot is exactly the same - to get the golf ball on to the green as close to the flag as possible.

Fault - Often when a player is faced with such a testing shot, the negative outcomes come to the forefront of the mind when thinking about the golf shot rather than thinking about the positives and the execution of the golf shot. The bunker suddenly becomes the centre of attention and the negative outcomes of going into the bunker become much stronger. The fear factor begins to kick in as the shot approaches and instead of concentrating on what needs to happen to get the golf ball near to the flag, the thoughts turn to 'how will I get over this bunker?' This thought most commonly results in a poor shot as the golfer will begin to aim to lift the golf ball over the bunker on to the green as opposed to playing a normal lofted golf shot.

Fix - The first thing we must do when faced with a shot over a bunker on to the green is to pick a point on the other side of the bunker to aim for where we want the golf ball to land. Picking a golf club with ample amounts of loft from your set, that will execute such a shot, is vital in the build up to the golf shot to build confidence that you have the correct golf club for the job in hand.

Key tip - To become a more consistent chipper of the golf ball, we need to practice the stroke making sure we limit the amount of wrist hinge during the backswing and through impact. Ideally, we need a small amount of wrist hinge during the backswing but very little hinge at the moment of impact, otherwise the temptation of flicking the wrists to increase the height of the golf shot appears at the moment of impact. The best way to become better at such shots would be to feel like the shaft of the golf club is leaning slightly forwards towards the target at the moment of impact to guarantee a cleaner strike on the golf ball.

Key point - When executing the golf shot, focus on the point you have picked beyond the bunker as opposed to the bunker itself. Focus on landing the golf ball on the spot you have judged to land the golf ball on the green.

This will make sure you keep your mind focused on the job in hand rather than the possible negatives that could happen from the golf shot.

Rarely will you find a golf course without a bunker.

Best Ways to Get Up and Over a Golf Bunker

Long one of the favorite options for course designers to add difficulty to their layouts, bunkers are a common sight on courses all around the world. They are quite simple, of course – just a hole in the ground with sand in the bottom – but they add tremendous difficulty when used effectively. A good course designer knows how to place his or her bunkers in order to make the course both more challenging and playable at the same time.

As a golfer, your job is to avoid these bunkers on your way to completing a given hole. Sometimes, that will mean going around the bunker – playing your shot on a line where it will never have to deal with the sand trap. In other cases, that will mean playing the ball directly over the bunker in order to reach your target. In this article, we are going to talk about how you can get up and over bunkers successfully. Our advice might not be able to keep you out of every bunker you encounter – it's inevitable that you'll find one from time to time – but we hope to keep you on the grass as often as possible.

While we are going to focus specifically on avoiding sand bunkers in this article, our advice can actually be transferred to pretty much any kind of hazard you encounter on the course. For example, if a green is fronted by a water hazard rather than a large bunker, the idea of getting up and over safely is basically the same. No matter what kind of hazard the course designer has decided to use in order to test your skills, the task remains the same – keep your ball out of trouble and on track to finish the hole with a good score.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

When to Go Over, When to Go Around

When to Go Over, When to Go Around

Before we get into the topic of how you are going to get your ball over a bunker, we first need to talk about deciding whether or not that is a good idea. As mentioned earlier, you have a couple options when trying to avoid a sand trap. You can go over the trap, or you can simply go around. Which one is best? Well, that is going to depend entirely on the situation at hand.

The points listed below should help bring some clarity to this matter.

  • It starts with a number. When you see that a bunker is going to play a role in planning your next shot, the first thing you need to do is get a number. That number, of course, is the yardage that it will take to carry the ball safely to the other side. If you use a laser rangefinder when you play, it should be easy enough to measure the distance to the far edge of the trap. If you use GPS, your system will likely have distances available for all of the bunkers on the hole you are playing. Either way, it should take only moments to get an accurate distance if you use one of these technologies. If you have not yet adopted either kind of distance measuring device, it will be a little harder – but not impossible – to get an accurate number. You may be able to use a yardage book to determine the relevant distance, or you might be able to piece it together based on the bunker's position compared to the green. In the end, the method is not that important. What matters is that you have a carry distance in mind that you can use to help you make a smart decision about the upcoming shot.
  • Assess the overall situation. In addition to finding the yardage required to get over the bunker, you'll also want to take an overview of the situation you face while thinking about your options. Is one option obviously the better choice, or maybe even the only choice? For example, if you are playing an approach shot and the entire front of the green is protected by the bunker, going around won't be much of an option. As long as you have the ability to hit the ball far enough to carry the shot over the trap, that is going to be how you have to proceed. Or, if you are playing a tee shot to a fairway which features a bunker but also plenty of room on either side of the trap, going around will make a lot of sense. There is no reason to risk trying to carry the bunker when you can simply play away from it and avoid trouble. In many cases, the design of the hole will make your decision rather simple and straightforward.
  • The design of the bunker. Another thing to think about is the bunker itself. Is it a particularly deep bunker? Does it have steep sidewalls which could lead to trouble, or would you be able to get out easily from just about any spot in the trap? Not all bunkers are created equal, so it is smart to evaluate the difficulty of the trap before deciding how to move forward. If the bunker doesn't seem very penal, you may be more willing to take a riskier line, knowing the penalty for falling into the trap shouldn't be too severe. On the other hand, if it is a nasty bunker that is likely to cost you a couple strokes in the end, playing it safe is the smart way to go.
  • The lie of the ball. One last point we would like to make here relates to the importance of checking on the lie that you are dealing with for the current shot. Do you have a clean lie in the fairway, or is the ball sitting down in some rough? Obviously, attempting to carry a bunker from a clean lie is a safer bet than trying to do the same from a scruffy lie in the rough. Many amateur golfers make the mistake of ignoring the effects of their lie when planning various shots, and those golfers pay the price in the end. Don't let that happen to you. Respect the lie of the ball and plan a shot that stays within the limitations established by that lie.

In most cases, this is a decision which is going to make itself. Sometimes, you'll find that the necessary carry distance is simply too long and playing around the side of the bunker will be the easy option to select. Or, in other cases, you will have no option to play around the side, so going up and over is required to reach the target. It will be infrequent that you run into a situation where both options are truly viable. When those cases do come about, take a moment to think about what each option would look like, and weigh the pros and cons associated with that choice. In golf, the conservative plan is usually the right one, but being aggressive is okay from time to time. As you gain experience, making these kinds of decisions will become mostly second-nature to you, and you will spend very little time thinking it over before you make a choice and get ready to swing.

Planning Your Shot

Planning Your Shot

For the purposes of this section, we are going to assume that you have decided to go up and over the bunker that you are facing. Once that decision has been made, your attention needs to shift toward how you can execute the shot successfully. Every shot you hit during the course of a round of golf should be properly planned, and this kind of shot is certainly no different.

As you are making a plan to get your golf ball over a bunker safely, please consider the following tips.

  • Margin for error. It is not a good idea to plan to carry a bunker by just a yard or two. If that is your plan, you will have given yourself virtually no margin for error, meaning even a slight miss-hit is going to result in a bad outcome. Instead, you should be planning the shot to where a well-struck ball is going to comfortably carry the bunker, hopefully by several yards, if not more. That way, you can make a bit of a mistake at impact and still potentially get away with it. Of course, you also have to think about the other factors at play on each given shot, such as what trouble may be lurking if you go too far. In the end, the right shot selection is the one that gives you the greatest margin for error while still providing you the opportunity to leave the ball close to the hole (assuming this is an approach shot).
  • Understanding carry distance. As you plan your shot, it is important to remember the difference between carry distance and total distance. The carry distance of a given shot is the distance that the shot travels through the air before coming back down to earth. The total distance, on the other hand, is the distance that the ball travels from where it was hit until it stops moving. This is a key distinction, as any shot hit over a bunker needs to have sufficient carry distance in order to clear the sand safely. Most often, amateur golfers will run into trouble with this concept off the tee. For example, a player might know that he or she averages 240-yards off the tee with a driver. So, when that player sees a fairway bunker that requires a 230-yard carry to clear safely, they might decide to go for it. Unfortunately, they probably stand very little chance to actually make it over. The 240-yard driving average represents total distance, not carry distance. The player's carry distance average is much shorter than that, meaning the task of covering 230-yards in the air is probably out of the question. When going over a bunker, be sure to always think about your carry distance rather than the total distance you expect to get from a club.
  • Dealing with slopes. When playing over a bunker, your main concern is simply avoiding the sand and getting the ball as close to your chosen target as possible. However, you should also take a moment to think about the slopes around the bunker and what they will mean for your shot. Most bunkers have 'shoulders', meaning they have turf that is sloped down away from the bunker, at least on the front and the sides. This is not always the case, of course, but it is true in many instances. So, when thinking about how to play your shot, take the slope of the ground around the bunker into consideration.

Planning a shot over a bunker really isn't much different than planning any other kind of golf shot. You should always be looking to provide yourself with plenty of margin for error, and you should always be paying attention to things like carry distance and slope. The stakes are a little higher when playing over a bunker, since you'll be punished if the shot doesn't work out, but the basic idea is the same. For any golf shot, clear planning and confidence execution should be top priorities.