BUNKERS…Getting out, Raking, Rules…

“It’s a stroke round so don’t play like you’re off a handicap of 4, play smart and play within your ability indicated by your handicap” !!!  

Eliminate mistakes  going for shots that you can not make, like going for the green from a bunker 150m out.

Picture this, 110m out in a fairway bunker currently for 2 shots, using an 7 iron going for the green, hitting the lip of the bunker, remaining in the bunker after 3 shots, taking a sand wedge out onto the fairway – 4 shots, still 80m out from the green, using a pitching wedge onto the green – 5 shots, ball rolls off back of green, pitch ball back up onto green 6, and 2 putt for an 8 !!

In hindsight this Par 5 could have been a comfortable Bogie,  having chipped comfortably out of the bunker for 3 shots , hitting 8 iron to the green for 4 shots , 2 putts for 6 . Playing to your handicap is awesome or 2 or 3 over  for the round is a good day of golf. Having a better idea of your own potential out on the course and playing to the script is a far smarter and realistic than trying to play below your handicap and wrecking multiple holes and having a disaster round.

Next time, try focusing on getting the ball back in play.

The chances of pulling off a shot from the above scenario is slim so I’d like to share some basic info on getting out of bunkers the safe way.  It also shows a degree of intelligence on course management, which is another blog on it’s own.

Golf can put many of us players in uncomfortable situations at any given time, and one of these situations is the dreaded bunker.  On paper it is a shot that is said to be simple, yet so many of us seem to lose our poise and confidence when faced with the challenge.  

Approach the bunker shot with the right attitude, rather than fear for the bunker shot. One key  issue is the stance of the golfer.  The majority of us will position our stance too wide.  This is because most of us psych ourselves out in a bunker. Golfers who attempt to forcefully hit the ball  with a big wide stance often lead to a fat shot in the bunker.  

With all golf shots , having the correct body position is essential for a successful shot. Instead of opening your stance and clubface too wide, take aim to the left of your target line and open your club face ( lean it back ) only around 2-3 degrees. At this point, your feet should be sunk into the sand for balance.

Have your stance shoulder width apart, while flexing your knees , weight on the front foot. You will probably feel a bit awkward, but practicing this stance will make the process more simple. Now that you have your body in a good place, it’s time to swing.

You will want to find an area 2-4 inches behind the ball. Place your hands evenly and take a half back swing. In the process of this swing you will want to make sure you rotate your shoulders with a full follow through to the target.  If this feels familiar to a pitch shot, you’re right.  The only difference is the sand’s involved.  

Now that you are armed with a new approach when facing a sand bunker shot, you are ready to conquer your previous anxiety.  I am far from an educated Golf Professional/Coach but these tips are from the lessons I’ve received .  I encourage everyone to have a lesson or join a clinic.

Here are a few suggestions :-

Book a Lesson or Join a Clinic

Albert Park Golf Course – 9510 5588          Bulleen Golf Driving Range – 9852 0503

Yarra Bend Golf – 9481 3729

Local Golf Pro @ your closest public golf course

Golf Pro @ your private Golf Club


Taking care at Raking the Bunker…

I also need to cover raking of the bunker, there is nothing worse than finding  your ball lying in the bunker & finding it sitting in a mess of foot prints or even worse a big divot hole.

When cleaning up after yourself in the bunker you are basically trying to get the sand as level as possible so its fair for the next golfer who visits that bunker.  Our first instinct is to pull the sand to the back of the bunker causing the majority of the sand to build up, what we must remember to do is to push the sand forward with the rake.  Some also tend to use only one hand and just drag the sand out towards the back of the bunker.  Far better to use two hands on the rake and again remember to push the sand forwards, not just backwards. Flip the rake and smooth out  approximately the last 1 meter around the rim to allow balls to feed into the bunker and not stop at the edges.

Finally, as you come out of  a green side  bunker, just bang the sand off your shoes with your club and then rake your final footprints as you exit.  Leaving the rake in or out of the bunker ( at the discretion of the Golf Club) as per other bunkers at your course. If  leaving the rake in the  bunker it should lie in line at a direction to the flag close to the centre of the bunker.



Bunker (Golf)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A bunker is a depression near the green or fairway that is usually filled with sand. It is difficult to hit the ball out of the bunker and entering it is therefore considered punitive to a golfer who misses the target with the previous shot. A club called a “sand wedge” is designed for extracting the ball from a bunker, a process requiring well-developed skill. After a player is done using the bunker, it is the job of either the player or that player’s caddy to rake the area of the sand disturbed during play. Specific rules of golf govern play from a bunker. For example, a player may not ground one’s club in a bunker; that is, the club cannot touch the ground prior to the swing.

There are three types of bunkers used in golf course architecture and all are designed to be impediments to the golfer’s progress toward the green. Fairway bunkers are designed primarily to gather up wayward tee shots on par 4 and par 5 holes; they are located to the sides of the fairway or even in the middle of the fairway. Greenside bunkers are designed to collect wayward approach shots on long holes and tee shots on par 3 holes; they are located near and around the green. Waste bunkers are natural sandy areas, usually very large and often found on links courses; they are not considered hazards according to the rules of golf, and so, unlike in fairway and greenside bunkers, golfers are permitted to ground a club lightly in, or remove loose impediments from, the area around the ball.[2





The R&A and the USGA have announced a major set of proposed changes to the Rules of Golf. These changes result from our Rules Modernisation initiative that began five years ago in an effort to bring the Rules up to date to fit the needs of the game today globally.

These rule changes will take place in the year 2019.

  • Relaxed bunker rules: There will be no penalty for moving loose impediments in a bunker or for generally touching the sand with a hand or club. A limited set of restrictions (such as not grounding the club right next to the ball) is kept to preserve the challenge of playing from the sand; however, an extra relief option is added for an unplayable ball in a bunker, allowing the ball to be played from outside the bunker with a two-stroke penalty.
  • Click on the link below to see a short 13 minute video on the proposed changes for 2019.


Bunker tips researched from https://www.americangolf.com

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