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Do bunker shots strike fear in your game?  This is probably one of the shots least practiced and perfected by most players.  Folks generally prefer to crush drivers, listen to balls sizzle as they rocket of an iron, and/or putt.  Plus, not as many courses offer practice sand traps.  Many years ago, I did focus on and practice bunker play, but not so much in recent years.  While I do pretty well out of most bunker situations, I must admit that this shot raises my BP more than most. They are responsible for a healthy percentage of my errant shots.  No doubt this is largely due to the fact that I don't practice these shots very much and because sand condition can vary a lot. One of the courses in Yuma has a monthly rate for unlimited access to the practice area; which includes some nice, 60+ yard chipping area and bunker practice green. I will be focusing more on sand trap play this winter. How much time do you spend on improving bunker play and do you use any particular routine?

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I rarely practice bunker/sand play. We don't even have a practice bunker at my home course. Ugh! I used to get out on the course more in the evenings and at those times I'd practice my sand shots some. But I haven't done that in months. Hmmm?

 

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Bunker shots are exactly like riding bicycle, well doing bicycle tricks. Once you know how to do it you can always do it but, but pulling off great shots requires lots of practice to keep your skills sharp. 

The goal should be in 3 stages depending on your skills get it out, get it on and get it close. 

I dedicate one day a week for bunker practice and it’s always my favorite day of practice. lately my favorite club is the 64* pm Callaway, that thing is like a spatula and really versatile grind, I can really get aggressive with my explosion.  I also practice with other clubs like my hybrid, chipper(yes, you have no idea that you can legally cheat the game with this:))and putter, as well as different ways to get it out.  

When ego does not matter and you are faced with long bunker shot like 40 yards for a 3 skins carry over, chipping out can be an excellent option, hybrid and chipper are the go to club practice and you’ll see how useful it is  

I just started teaching my niece the dreaded bunker shots and I may have stumbled onto a drill to help out beginners, usually they like to take a long back swing and slam it to the ball and stop, same happened to my niece, I told her to reverse it. Take a backswing about hip high then finish at the shoulder height. She’s cured on the first tried and since.  No fancy openstance, just square it up and swing. 

If you are struggling with your bunker play give it a try, it might cure your problem. 

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Take a backswing about hip high then finish at the shoulder height. She’s cured on the first tried and since.  No fancy openstance, just square it up and swing. 
If you are struggling with your bunker play give it a try, it might cure your problem. 


I like playing out of bunkers and prefer it to rough especially green side.

Your technique works well. But I would caution that it's a bit more complex than that. Soft sand is different from hard pan, fairway bunkers different technique than green side, a really deep bunker vs shallow, etc.

But it all comes down to practice and knowing which club to use when. For instance two scenarios where the bunkers are identical except for the type of sand, I might use my 56 vs 60 because of the difference in the bounce.




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I really enjoy bunker shots. I just open my stance and open the face and swing over the top. The toughest thing is distance control. I just change how far behind the ball I hit for distance control. The shorter the shot, the more sand I take behind the ball. 

 

Edit: I always use a 58*. 

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My course I somewhat enjoy playing out of greenside bunkers because the sand is fairly soft and easy to control. Fairway bunkers I approach them all pretty much the same. Pick it clean, maybe just a half swing with the 3w to help not dig in.

I used to spend 30-45 minutes a week practicing usually only two or three shots in a session (explosion, lots of spin, plugged in the sand, different distances, etc.) when I'd be at the short game area. Playing around with the short game is definitely my favourite part of practice!

This season haven't been out much never mind had time to practice but my sand game hasn't been disappointing when I get myself in a bunker.

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In the past I maintained a very flat swing which was beneficial for bunker play but made the rest of my game somewhat erratic. Finally, got the “normal” swing working on a better plane, but have lost almost all ability to hit the bunker shot like I used to. It’s definitely rattled my nerves a bit this year. Hoping to squeeze one lesson in before it’s too cold so I have something to work on in the off-season.


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20 hours ago, TR1PTIK said:

In the past I maintained a very flat swing which was beneficial for bunker play but made the rest of my game somewhat erratic. Finally, got the “normal” swing working on a better plane, but have lost almost all ability to hit the bunker shot like I used to. It’s definitely rattled my nerves a bit this year. Hoping to squeeze one lesson in before it’s too cold so I have something to work on in the off-season.


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Being able to practice long bunker shots is even more challenging - simply not many courses offer that in the practice areas.  

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Being able to practice long bunker shots is even more challenging - simply not many courses offer that in the practice areas.  

My home course has a couple of good holes to drop a few balls and work on that tricky 40 yard bunker shot (when it’s slow). If you’re talking about fairway bunker shots, that’s gotten better since changing my swing and I never practice those.


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2 hours ago, fixyurdivot said:

Being able to practice long bunker shots is even more challenging - simply not many courses offer that in the practice areas.  

I think, if you have no practice area, the easiest way to do this is to take a 7 or 8 iron and play a normal bunker shot. Just like how you would with a wedge around the green. Use an open face, open stance, and hit 2 inches behind the ball, but just with a 7 or 8 iron. 

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I used to practice in the bunkers every time i would practice.Even took a few short game lessons and have a great technique and understanding.Sadly, after all the effort, I still have no idea how the ball will come out.Or a few times stays in the trap.For most cappers, sand traps are a true hazard 

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If I'm ever playing alone and the course gets slow ahead of me I always use that time to get a few practice sand shots in. It's the only opportunity I have to practice the shot.

 

On 10/27/2018 at 8:02 PM, GB13 said:

I really enjoy bunker shots. I just open my stance and open the face and swing over the top. The toughest thing is distance control. I just change how far behind the ball I hit for distance control. The shorter the shot, the more sand I take behind the ball. 

 

Edit: I always use a 58*. 

This is my approach as well. 

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I am not afraid of any bunker shot I actually enjoy trying things. The problem is there is no place around me with a decent practice bunker, so results are always very mixed. Maybe because I have such low expectations it makes it kind of fun to try different shots.

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I think that once you learn a reasonably bunker technique, it remains with you pretty well, at least for me.   I use a pretty standard technique, open stance, open club, maintain clubhead speed through the ball.  I'm consistently decent to good in reasonably firm sand, I struggle a little more in fine soft sand like I've seen in Florida.  I do think that you need to adjust your expectations a little, you really shouldn't take extra risk to try to get it close.  Out is good, always get it out, never leave it in.  If that means I hit the ball 30 feet past, or 30 feet short, fine, I'm putting.  

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I was about to start a similar post but will ride the coat tails of this one. I'm a very good bunker player but have ran into problems with wet sand on my last two outings that caused me to bullet the ball over the green. I looked some techniques up and had a chance to try them out in practice yesterday because the bunker was semi-wet. I'd love to hear any special things you guys do for
wet/hard sand. Thanks

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13 minutes ago, Brewmaster said:

I was about to start a similar post but will ride the coat tails of this one. I'm a very good bunker player but have ran into problems with wet sand on my last two outings that caused me to bullet the ball over the green. I looked some techniques up and had a chance to try them out in practice yesterday because the bunker was semi-wet. I'd love to hear any special things you guys do for
wet/hard sand. Thanks

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Usually the problem with hard sand is, the club bounces off the sand, and skips into the ball causing a bladed shot. 

There are two solutions, 

1. (Recommended) I would make sure to have at least one wedge in the bag with low bounce, and it doesn't have to be your highest lofted wedge. The low bounce will stop the skipping and dig into the sand a little more. You can also rotate in this wedge if you know it is going to be wet, so you don't use a permanent spot in the bag. 

 

2. While moving through the impact zone, make a conscious effort to keep the club grounded to the sand to eliminate skipping. 

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57 minutes ago, GB13 said:

Usually the problem with hard sand is, the club bounces off the sand, and skips into the ball causing a bladed shot. 

There are two solutions, 

1. (Recommended) I would make sure to have at least one wedge in the bag with low bounce, and it doesn't have to be your highest lofted wedge. The low bounce will stop the skipping and dig into the sand a little more. You can also rotate in this wedge if you know it is going to be wet, so you don't use a permanent spot in the bag. 

2. While moving through the impact zone, make a conscious effort to keep the club grounded to the sand to eliminate skipping. 

I've tried the less-bounce option, and don't really like my results.  When I'm in really firm or wet sand, I take my normal sand wedge, normal stance and swing, and really think about thumping the back edge into the sand behind the ball.  I don't consciously think about steepening my entry, although that's probably the result.  Even with the steeper entry, the bounce deflects the club so it goes on a pretty shallow path under the ball.  Its also important to keep the clubhead speed up, not be afraid of the thin shot.  This sounds pretty similar to GB's option 2 above.

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Do sand bunkers strike fear in me, yea and a lot.    For some years, I had to live with the nickname, Priceless.   It was given to me by a Pinehurst caddie and was based on the credit card commercial:

Green fees:    $200

A dozen golf balls:  $50

Me in a bunker: .................

The pro at a club in which I was a member spend almost 2 hours with me in a bunker.   When over he said and I quote:  I have been teaching for 25 years and I have never seen anything like this before.   That same year, the course hosted what was then called the Futures Tour.   It was at the Wednesday night dinner, I was sitting at a rather large round table with some buds and some of the lady players.  Of course, the pro had to provide a commentary on my bunker lesson.   The laughter was so loud that it started to draw a crowd.  If nothing else, my bunker play is entertaining to others.

 

 

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I’ve hit into them so often that they no longer frighten me. It just depends on if it’s rock, sand or dry creek bed consistency. Different swing for all


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