How to Play From the Greenside Bunker

By Steve Silverman

Getting out of a greenside bunker is a difficult assignment for a majority of medium- and high-handicap golfers. Greenside bunkers tend to be deep, and that intimidates most golfers. Many golfers feel they have to take a Herculean shot to muscle the ball out of the trap. However, that's not how it works. Getting out of the greenside bunker is about technique and not strength.


Difficulty: Moderate
Step 1
Assess your shot as you observe your ball in the greenside bunker. Under most circumstances, you will be able to hit an explosive shot toward the flagstick and get your shot out of the bunker. However, if the majority of your ball is beneath the surface of the sand and the lip of the sand trap is high and deep, you may have to come out of the trap on the side. You may not have a playable shot at the green. Don't force it if you think you are facing a shot that is too difficult for your skill level.
Step 2
Dig your spikes into the sand when you are in a greenside bunker. This creates a firm toe hold. You don't want to slip in the sand, and this will help you maintain a steady footing.
Step 3
Look for a spot about 2 inches behind the ball when you are in a greenside trap. You are not going to hit the ball with the blade of your sand wedge. Instead, you are going to hit the sand behind the ball, and the sand will explode into the ball and force it out of the bunker.
Step 4
Keep your head down and make sure you have a strong follow-through. You may not be hitting the ball, but you still have to have a strong finish to get the ball up and out. Many inexperienced golfers tend to stop their swing after they have hit the sand. That's not enough to get it out of the bunker.
Step 5
Work on your bunker play when you are at the driving range or when you begin your warmup session before your round of golf. Bunker play is far less intimidating once you have some experience. You can get this experience during your round, but you will be more prepared for it if you practice the shot regularly.

Tips & Warnings

Hit the sand behind the ball when playing from a greenside bunker.
Don't ground your club in the bunker prior to hitting. That is a one-stroke penalty.

About The Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.

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