This is a guest Post by Ross Starkey from

Bunker ShotMost amateur golfers watch in awe as the professionals demonstrate how to play a bunker shot. They pepper the pin with shots that land softly or stop dead on the second bounce and always seem to leave short putts for pars or birdies. So, is there a secret to great bunker play most amateurs don’t know?

It is a fact that many amateur golfers are scared of the prospect of escaping from sand, afraid of either leaving it in the bunker or thinning it over the green. What most golfers don’t realise is that even the very best bunker players on Tour don’t get up and down every time.

The Sand Saves stat for a European Tour player ranked 100th in this category last year managed a sand save success rate of just 53% meaning he will escape with a par only five times from ten attempts. Even the worst ranked professional on Tour could only manage it three times out of ten. Put this way, escaping bunkers like the pros almost sounds achievable doesn’t it?

Most golfers should be looking for a way of getting out of a bunker consistently, or at the very least developing a consistent stroke out of a bunker that always gives them a chance for saving par. Take a look at some teaching manuals and game improvement sites and take note, they all teach the same techniques for playing sand shots.

The real secret to getting out of a bunker is a simple one because there is no ‘miracle’ technique for sand shots, the only secret to achieving consistent results is through practice. The more you practice escaping from a bunker, the more confident you will feel of playing better sand shots.

Most amateurs skip this practice in favour of hitting hundreds of balls on the range, rarely visiting the pitching green, and when they come to the golf course and are faced with a bunker shot, they get scared of taking too much sand, or too little. These doubts only make playing poor bunker shots more likely.

Having a basic technique for bunker play – one which has been practiced regularly – will take the fear out of the shot. If you have decided to hit a hundred balls out of the bunker, in preference to the driving range, you should have a pretty good idea of how to play the shot and where it’ll likely end up.

You won’t always make the resulting putt, the pros don’t always make the putt either, but you’ll make more par putts if you consistently escape the bunker at the first attempt and at least give yourself a chance.

The only secret to successful bunker shots is to practice them, even the greatest teacher of them all, Harvey Penick, had this to say about sand play:

If you practice it and learn a few fundamentals, playing a ball out of a green side bunker is not a difficult shot, even for the average golfer

Author: Ross Starkey from – Online Golf Lessons


Filed under: Golf Short Game

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