Improve Your Golf Bunker Play, Hit The Right Distance Every Time 1

Once a golfer develops enough confidence to be able to get the ball out of a bunker, the question often changes from how to get out to how to control the distance and height that the ball comes out of the sand.

There are three ways to do this.

The first is simple. Use the correct tool for the job. We have up to 14 golf clubs in the golf bag. It is very easy to categorize a club because of it's name. Professionals do not use a rescue club just when they get into trouble. They also do not always use a driver to begin a hole. Likewise, in a bunker, the correct tool also needs to be used for the job.

If the shot in hand needs to be a high and short one, use a higher lofted club such as a lob wedge. If the ball needs to go longer, use a lower lofted club such as a 9 iron. Using different clubs allows the shot to change but not the technique, which means that it becomes much easier to retain consistency throughout any shot.

The second way to change how far the ball travels from a bunker is to change the length of the backswing. Swinging back longer or shorter alters the amount of power that can be put into the shot without hitting it harder or softer. The main thing to remember here is to always maintain the same rhythm of swing. The tendency is to hit the ball harder on a longer swing and softer on a shorter swing, breeding inconsistency to the shot. It is the length of the swing that needs to change the distance of the shot, rather than the power of the swing.

Improve Your Golf Bunker Play, Hit The Right Distance Every Time 3

The last way that can change the distance that the bunker shot travels is by using a simple drill to take more or less sand during the stroke. Lay two tour sticks on the sand in the bunker, in front of the stance, positioned at 90 degrees to the body alignment. Position one tour stick three inches behind the golf ball, and one tour stick one inch behind and slightly away from the golf ball, so as not to hit it during the shot.

During this practice, hit alternate shots, aiming to hit into the sand at the one inch mark and then the three inch mark. Each time, note how far the ball travels in the air in relation to the two different amounts of sand taken during the shot. When taking less sand on the one inch shot, the ball should fly higher and further due to there being less resistance due to less sand being taken. When the sand is hit three inches behind the ball, more drag from driving the club through more sand should produce a ball flight that will fly lower and roll further onto the green.

So there we have three simple ways to change the distance of bunker shots. Now get in that bunker and practice.

Improve Your Golf Bunker Play – Hit the Right Distance Every Time

Improve Your Golf Bunker Play – Hit the Right Distance Every Time

Bunker play tends to be one of those areas of the game that is hard for amateur golfers to conquer. While professional golfers are able to splash the ball out of the sand and up next to the hole with relative ease, the same skill does not come nearly as easily to amateur players. It is common to see an amateur player get stuck in a bunker for several swings before the ball finally pops out. And, if the ball does come out on the first try, the shot may come up well short or fly way past the cup. Needless to say, improving bunker play should be a point that is high on the priority list of every amateur golfer.

In this article, we are going to talk specifically about improving your ability to hit bunker shots the proper distance. This discussion is going to be based on greenside bunker shots, so the tips that are offered here should not be applied to shots hit from fairway bunkers. When playing a greenside bunker shot, you shouldn't have much trouble at all getting the ball on line. This is why distance control is so important – if you can hit the ball the right distance, it is almost certain that you'll be left with a makeable putt to save your up and down from the sand.

The challenge that comes along with distance control from the sand is found in the fact that you aren't actually going to be hitting the ball at impact. Instead, you'll be hitting the sand (in most cases), and the sand will be propelling the ball up into the air. This is a different type of shot than you will play when your ball is resting on the grass, meaning you will have to adjust on the fly when you do face a sand shot. This adjustment is fairly routine for an experienced golfer, but it can be tough for those without as many rounds under their belt.

Before we get into the discussion on how you can improve your distance control, it needs to be noted that you'll have to actually practice your bunker shots if you want to improve. It's one thing to read some tips on the web, but it is another thing to actually work on your sand game during a practice session. Find a course near you which offers a practice bunker and utilize it from time to time. Most golfers don't bother to practice their bunker play, and the results speak for themselves.

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.

Three Ways to Manipulate Distance

Three Ways to Manipulate Distance

When hitting a full shot from the fairway, you actually don't have to think that much about distance. Once you pick the right club for the job, you'll probably just make your normal full swing, counting on your club selection to do the job of managing distance properly. As long as you make a solid swing and achieve clean contact, the ball will come down somewhere near the right yardage. Of course, when you get close enough to the target to enter the realm of the short game, this same plan is not going to work. You aren't making a full swing when playing from a greenside bunker, meaning you won't be able to rely on club selection alone to handle this task.

So, how can you manage distance if you aren't going to rely on club selection alone? The list below includes three options for managing your distance properly. Most likely, you are going to use a combination of these three options when playing any greenside bunker shot. With practice and experience, you'll soon be able to bring these points together just right in order to produce beautiful sand shots.

  • Size of your swing. This is the first place you are going to turn when trying to control your shots effectively. By making a longer swing, you can add power to the shot, and hit the ball farther. On a long bunker shot, you might make something resembling a full swing – while on a short bunker shot, you'll only take the club back a short distance before sending it forward into the sand. Learning how to control the distance of your bunker shots by changing the length of your swing is one of the biggest skills you can develop for your sand game. The only way to develop this skill, as you might suspect, is through consistent practice. As you hit more and more bunker shots, you will start to develop a natural feel for how far the ball is going to travel based on the swing you have made.
  • Height of the shot. By changing the height of your bunker shots, you can manipulate how far the ball is going to travel toward the target. If you hit a high shot, the ball is going to travel a shorter overall distance than if you were to play the ball closer to the ground. Of course, when deciding how high to hit the shot, you will have to look at the edge of the bunker in front of you to make sure your intended shot is going to clear the lip. For instance, you can't opt to play a low shot if you are at the bottom of a deep bunker. The first goal for every greenside bunker shot should simply be to get out of the trap in a single swing. Later in this article, we will provide some advice on how you can successfully hit higher and lower bunker shots on command.
  • Distance from the ball when the club hits the sand. This last point is the most advanced of the three on our list. When you hit several inches behind the ball at impact on a bunker shot, the ball is going to come out softly, with very little of the power from the swing transferred into the golf ball. On the other hand, when you hit quite close to the ball, most of the power from your swing will be used to propel the shot forward. This is an effective way to manage your distance, but you need to be a skilled and experienced player to pull this off. Specifically, it is risky trying to hit close to the ball, as hitting the ball before touching the sand will lead to an ugly result. Feel free to experiment with this option during practice, but only use it on the course once you have developed plenty of confidence in this method.

As mentioned earlier, it is likely that you will use some combination of two or all three of these methods to manage your distance on a given bunker shot. For example, on a short shot from the bottom of a deep bunker, you might decide that you need to make a big swing while hitting the ball high up in the air. This type of shot would make it possible to clear the lip, and the high loft of the shot would counteract some of the power you used by making a big swing. In the end, you'd hopefully wind up with a high, short shot that may settle right next to the cup.

It is important to use your practice sessions to learn how to combine these various distance-controlling techniques properly. Think carefully about every shot you hit during practice, planning out your approach to the shot before making a swing. With time, you are going to gradually improve your play, and you will soon have plenty of confidence each time you step down into a greenside trap.

Build Trust in a Single Club

Build Trust in a Single Club

If at all possible, you want to play the vast majority of your greenside bunker shots with a single club. For many golfers, that club will be – not surprisingly – the sand wedge. For others, however, it will be the lob wedge. It is perfectly acceptable to use either of these two as your go-to option out of the sand. As you practice, work with both of the clubs to decide which one gives you both the best results and the most confidence.

The value is using one club for the majority of your bunker shots is in the familiarity that you will gain with that club over time. As the rounds and practice sessions add up, you will have more and more confidence in your ability to hit the ball the right distance. You'll know how this particular club cuts through the sand, and you will know how much spin it usually puts on the ball. Being familiar with your go-to club certainly isn't going to guarantee you great results, but it is a nice place to start.

Of course, you aren't going to be able to use the same club for every single bunker shot around the greens, since golf is a game of endless variety. From time to time, you'll need to leave your favored club in the bag for another option. Following is a list of some of the circumstances that will call for a change of pace.

  • A bad lie. When you draw a bad lie in a greenside bunker, you may need to club down and use less loft to punch the ball out and onto the green. These will not be 'pretty' shots by any means, and they will be hard to control. Also, if you happen to get a bad lie in a deep bunker, you really won't have the option of using less loft to play a low shot out. In such a case, you will have to use a high-lofted club and simply do the best you can with the situation you've been given. During practice, try intentionally giving yourself a few bad lies and work with lower-lofted clubs to learn how to blast the ball out of a tough situation. It is good to have this shot available in case you need it – and hopefully you don't need it very often.
  • A particularly long shot. If you decide to use the lob wedge as your go-to option in greenside bunkers, you may find that a club change is necessary when facing a long shot across to the other side of the green. It can be difficult to hit your bunker shot hard enough when you are playing to a target that is 20 or 30 yards away, especially if you are using a lob wedge. By moving down to a sand wedge, or even a gap wedge in some situations, you should be able to use your normal technique while getting extra carry and roll out of the shot. Long bunkers shots are always going to be difficult, but using less loft can give you an improved chance of getting up and down.
  • Hard sand. Sometimes, you will come across bunkers with firm sand in the bottom. This may be due to a lack of sand in the bunker, or because heavy rain has packed the sand down. Whatever the case, playing a shot from hard sand is usually going to be easier with less loft. Basically, you will move down in loft and play a simple chip shot in this situation. Rather than blasting the ball out with a lob wedge or sand wedge, you can try using a pitching wedge or gap wedge with your chipping technique to send the ball up toward the hole. Again, this is a technique which is not going to work from a deep bunker. Only when you have a low lip in front of you can this really be considered a viable option.

As you practice your greenside bunker game, focus on learning to use one of your wedges proficiently. At the same time, mix in a few shots with other clubs just so you have options when you need to come up with a specific type of shot out on the course. You'll be able to lean on your favorite club for the majority of your sand shots, and you'll have some backup plans available when necessary.