Bunker Play Basics

By Patrick Cameron

The words "sand trap" have been known to strike fear in the hearts of even the most seasoned golfers. But sand traps--or bunkers--can be cut down to size by using just a few basic techniques. So, next time you find yourself buried in the beach, use a few simple techniques to get up and down with minimal effort.

Check the Grain

Bunkers come in a variety of sand conditions--some good, some not so good. When you find yourself swallowed up, the first thing you want to do is assess the grit and size of the sand grain. If the sand is clumpy and heavy, that's going to make things tougher on you and you're going to need to put a little more on your shot to get it out. If the sand is light and nonsticky, you'll have an easier time of getting out--providing your ball's not buried.

Dig In

Once you've surveyed the bunker and the sand grain, you're ready to position yourself for the shot. Approach the ball. Because you'll most likely be using a wedge you'll want to be up tight on the ball, so shorten the distance between your body and where your ball sits (not much, you still want to be comfortable). You'll also want to position your feet a little further apart than normal. If you generally have your feet at shoulder width, give them an extra inch on either side. This will give you more stability. Once you've done these two things, you want to plant yourself in to the sand so that your feet don't move when you swing. To do this, simply swivel your hips until you feel your feet digging down into the sand. Stop when you feel like you're firm in the trap.

Blast It or Pick It

There are two ways to get out of the trap; blast it or pick it. Which one you choose depends on the distance to the pin, the slope of the green and the grain of the sand. If the sand is heavy and clumped, you'll want to blast it--digging your club in on the downswing, taking lots of sand and allowing the force of the swing to carry the ball out of the bunker. If the sand is dry and light, the ball is sitting up on the sand and you have a relatively flat green, you'll want to pick the ball while trying to catch as little of the sand as possible, thus picking the ball out of the trap.

About The Author

Patrick Cameron is a freelance writer with 10 years of diverse experience in consumer goods branding, promotions and retail communications. He works out of his home in Denver, Colo. He received his Bachelor of Arts in mass communication from the University of Minnesota.

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