Greenside Bunker Basics

By Steve Silverman

Everyone who plays golf finds himself in the bunker from time to time. Even the greats can't put all their shots on the green and sometimes end up short or wide and find themselves in the bunker. This can be very intimidating, but with the proper technique, you can get your ball out of the sand and onto the green.

Blasting Out of the Trap

Greenside bunkers tend to be quite deep. Even if your ball is not buried under the sand, you will still likely have to come over a ridge to get your ball on the green. Take your sand wedge and open your stance so you are almost diagonal to the hole. The rules do not allow you to ground your club in the hazard, so you may not take a practice swing. Bring your club back and come down two inches behind the ball in the hazard. This will cause the sand to explode into the ball and pop it up into the air and onto the green, where it should roll toward the hole.

Under the Lip

One of the worst places to be in the bunker is right under the lip. If you try to blast, your ball will hit the lip 99 percent of the time and roll back into the trap. Get your ball out of the hazard by facing away from the hole and hitting it back into the fringe surrounding the green. You will lose a stroke, but you could lose a lot more by trying to blast out from an impossible position.

Clean Lie

You may find yourself with the ball sitting on top of the sand in a bunker that does not have a ridge. As a result, you may be tempted to try to "pick it clean" and not "take sand" when you hit your shot. This is not advisable. While you may be successful 20 to 30 percent of the time, you will also find that if you mishit the ball, it will fly 30 yards past the green. You are better off hitting behind the ball and letting the sand do the work of propelling your ball onto the green.

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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