Everything You Need To Know About Golf Bunkers

Everything You Need To Know About Golf Bunkers

A bunker is a depression near the fairway or green, usually filled with sand. It serves the purpose of a hazard which is an area in the golf course that makes a difficult obstacle. Players are likely to face numerous challenges when trying to hit the ball out of the bunker.

Rest assured, this handy guide will offer you all the advice you need to successfully hit the ball through all kinds of obstacles. Players also need to follow certain rules and regulations when playing from a bunker. For example, a golfer cannot ground his club in the bunker, which means the club cannot make contact with the ground prior to the swing.

Beautiful Golf Bunkers

Types Of Bunkers

There are typically three types of bunkers that you will find on a golf course. These obstacles are designed to test a golfer’s skill in the course. The most common types of bunkers include:

  • Fairway Bunkers: As the name indicates, these bunkers are located to the sides of the fairways or even in the middle of the fairway.
  • Greenside Bunkers: Greenside bunkers are designed to gather wayward approach shots and tee shots. They are located, you guessed it, around the greens.
  • Waste Bunkers: Waste bunkers are typically larger than the entire lot and are naturally sandy areas. They are typically large and are commonly found on link courses. However, they are not considered hazards like the other two types in the rules of golf. Hence, you may use a club to lightly remove loose impediments around the surrounding area of the ball.

How To Hit Bunker Shot

Follow these simple steps to hit a bunker shot:

  • Walk towards the edge of the bunker and examine the ball
  • Grab a sand wedge or a lob wedge
  • ​Practice swinging outside the bunker since you are not allowed to touch the sand with the club
  • ​Walk towards the bunker and address the ball
  • ​Move your front foot backwards, opening up your stance
  • ​Select your desired club, opening up the face a little bit
  • ​Take a ¾ backswing and force the club hard
  • Once the sand clears, you will notice by how close the ball hits the hole

What Are Water Hazards?

Similar to bunkers, water hazards are natural obstacles that are constructed to add difficulty and beauty to a golf course. You will typically find water hazards in the form of ponds and streams around the golf course. They are located between the hole and the teeing ground.

Water Hazard on a Golf Course

There are typically two types of water hazards: water hazards that are marked with yellow stakes and lateral water hazards marked with red stakes. Lateral hazards are located adjacent to the fairway and can be found on the other side. On the other hand, water hazards typically cross the fairway, forcing the golfer to hit over the entire obstacle.

Top Bunker Mistakes And How To Fix Them

Unfortunately, most golfers are unsuccessful when it comes to hitting from bunkers. Here are a few common bunker mistakes and how you can avoid them:

Giving Up On The Shot

Most beginners and amateur golfers fear bunker shots. This drives them to give up or quit through impact. This means the player freezes or slows down at the crucial moment when they should be accelerating the club to lift the ball out of the bunker.

This typically results in a heavy strike, causing the ball to be left behind in the sand. To prevent this, hold the club high on the handle. The extra club length adds extra speed and increases acceleration.

Too Little Sand

Taking too little sand can result in problems. Thanks to the speed and length generated while hitting a standard splash bunker shot, direct contact with the ball creates a lot of distance. Not taking in any sand can cause the golfer to thin the shot. This also reduces control over the ball. To make sure enough sand is taken, ensure the sand enters at least an inch before the ball.

Golfer Hitting too much Sand in a Bunker

Too Much Sand

Taking too much sand can also cause things to go wrong. Players need only slide the golf club enough so that it causes the ball to fly upwards out of the bunker on a thin carpet of sand. Too much sand underneath or behind the ball can drastically decrease club head speed. Also, if you end up hitting the ball too far behind, you will have to heave a large amount of sand.


Scooping the golf ball is similar to flicking it with the additional bonus of leaning back through impact. The scoop causes the player to shift most of his weight to the back foot while hitting the shot, this is done to get underneath the ball.

This shifting of weight results in heavy strikes since the swing arch bottoms out too early, causing sand to enter a long way behind the golf ball. You can avoid scooping by ensuring your body weight remains slightly forward during impact. Keep your left wrist firm throughout the impact so it does not loosen up or break down.


Most amateur players are so desperate to get the ball out of the bunker that they resort to flicking their hands. This movement is caused by the breakdown of the left wrist during impact. This drastically increases the upward arch of the swing.

The flick either causes the club not to enter the sand at all or rises it too quickly, resulting in a thin shot. Keep your left wrists firm to avoid flicking. Using a sand wedge with a lot of loft can decrease this effect and offer the golfer additional help.

Golfer Flicking Ball from a Bunker


Hopefully, this handy guide has provided you all the information you need regarding golf bunkers. Follow these simple steps to deal with golf bunkers.


2 thoughts on “Everything You Need To Know About Golf Bunkers”

  1. My club has many green side waste bunkers with hard sand. I either skull it or hit too long.
    What club is best & do you play it up front,weight 60/40 as a regular bunker / thank you

    • Hi Lowell,

      Try this strategy.

      To ensure ball-first contact, grip down on the handle about a half-inch to an inch, but no more. (You don’t want to grip down too much or you’ll top the ball.) Because you’re gripping down, the ball won’t travel as far so make sure to club up—i.e., from a 7-iron to a 6-iron. You’ll also want to stand slightly closer to the ball than normal. Position the ball just back of center in your stance and move your sternum closer to the target so that it’s directly in line with the ball. You don’t want your spine to tilt excessively away from the target; it should be neutral (i.e., straight up and down). All of these set-up adjustments should encourage a steeper, more descending blow and ball-first contact.

      The No. 1 fault with amateurs on this shot is that they try and help the ball up in the air, either by scooping or hanging back on their trail foot. This moves the low point of the swing behind the ball and into the sand, causing them to hit the shot fat. As you swing the club back and through, try to keep your lower body relatively passive and your upper body centered over the ball. The less active the legs are, the easier it is to control the low point of the swing and contact the ball first. Pick out a dimple on the front half of the ball at address, and make that your focus point through impact, and it should help you remain relatively quiet and centered over the ball.

      Counter intuitive, I know, but this is what I do out of hard sand near the green, and is explained better in the article linked below.
      I found this snippet from: https://www.pgatour.com/instruction/2014/06/11/golf-instruction-tips-hitting-from-waste-bunkers.html


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