After several years of contending with deteriorating bunkers, we recently completed a major renovation project at The Views Golf Club. This gives me a perfect opportunity to discuss bunker construction and give you a few bunker playing tips.
First let’s talk briefly about why it was necessary to rebuild bunkers. As you may already know, after years of use, many bunkers tend to form huge ridges in them and as the chemical or material membrane breaks down, rocks will find their way into the bunkers. Also, silt filters into the sand resulting in a hardpan material when wet. This is especially the case when the bunker drainage has broken down causing standing water in the bunker. Obviously the conditions described above result in less than desirable playing conditions.
Although a course may have excellent bunkers, a primary goal of most golfers should be to stay out of them. One of the best ways to do that is to tee the ball up on the same side as the trouble ahead. In other words, if the bunker, out of bounds or water is on the right side of the fairway, it’s best to tee up on the right side of the tee box and aim away from any trouble. So, if you want to avoid bunkers, it’s best to play it safe, lay up instead of attempting a difficult shot where a miss of any kind will find the sand.
Course designers like to position bunkers where they will purposely come into play, and no matter how hard you try, you may eventually end up in a bunker.
Course designers like to position bunkers where they will purposely come into play, and no matter how hard you try, you may eventually end up in a bunker. So, how do you get out once you get in? While I could write pages on this subject, I’ll only touch on the basics here. If you’re in a bunker with a subtle lip, my suggestion is to pick the ball out of the bunker with a 7 or 8 iron while avoiding a lot of sand contact. On the other hand, a severe lip calls for a sand wedge (56-60 degree loft). There’s also the putter method if the bunker is very flat without any lip. There’s no doubt that this method is used on occasion, yet I don’t usually recommend it as it keeps a player from developing a good sand game.
Hopefully you find these bunker tips useful. In any case, if you want to have a good bunker game, choose a course with well maintained bunkers and contact your local PGA Professional for a bunker lesson.