5 Golf Bunker Drills that Will Sharpen Your Short Game

5 Golf Bunker Drills that will Sharpen Your Bunker Play

Golf sand shots take a different approach compared to chipping off of grass turf. You may find yourself struggling when hitting out of the bunker and are searching for help to improve your bunker play.

In golf, as with most things in life, in order to improve your bunker play you have to practice. Throwing 5 balls into the practice bunkers before you play and hitting them out doesn’t qualify as practice.

Many amateur golfers struggle getting out of a sand bunker, yet they hardly ever practice their bunker play. In order to get the best out of your bunker play, make sure that you practice sand shots with a purpose.

The following 5 drills will help to ensure that you get the most out of your sand bunker practice sessions.

  • Line in the sand
  • Landing spot towel drill
  • Up and down drill
  • Ladder drill
  • Hit bunker shots with different clubs


Sand Bunker Drills that Build Confidence

1. Line in the sand

Majority of amateur golfers have a really hard time getting their golf ball out of a bunker and onto the green.

Two scenarios arise quite frequently and they may sound familiar to your game as well.

Scenario one is a player hits too far behind the ball, resulting in the ball staying in the bunker.

Scenario two is a player hits the golf ball too clean and it goes flying over the back of the green.

In order to hit consistently good bunker shots, it is important to hit just far enough behind the ball so that you take the perfect amount of sand when hitting the shot.

A good way to practice this is to draw a line in the sand with the toe of your club. Then place a golf ball directly in front of the line and instead of hitting at the ball, hit the line directly behind the ball.

This drill will help you be successful hitting out of the bunker by taking just the right amount of sand on every shot.

2. Landing spot towel drill

Bunker shots are very similar to chip shots in principle. However, the technique and the surface that you hit from are different with bunker shots.

The mindset you approach the shot with remains the same, get the ball to a landing spot on the green so that it can finish with a nice roll close to the hole.

In order to judge the speed of a bunker or chip shot it is important to establish where the ball must land in order to come to a stop close to the hole.

Once the ball has landed on the green it will react in a similar fashion to a putt. It’s important to ensure that the landing spot matches up with the required line and speed.

Choosing the correct landing spot takes some skill from being able to read greens well.

Executing the shot and hitting the chosen landing spot also takes skill and practice.

An effective way to practice hitting your landing spot is to put a towel down in the area where you want the ball to land, and to then hit bunker shots towards the landing spot/towel trying to hit it with every attempt.

Practice for several reps until you get consistent at hitting shots from the bunker and onto the towel on the green. Then move the towel to new locations and repeat the drill to learn distance control.

3. Up and Down Bunker Drill

When practicing any area of the golf game, whether your swing, chipping, or putting, it is important to simulate “on course” conditions and situations to come prepared when it counts during competition.

Hitting shot after shot out of the bunker without any real purpose can get boring very quickly.

A fun way to avoid boredom and to get the most out of your practice session is to play ‘holes’ around the practice green.

Take 1 ball and hit 9 different shots, putt out every shot and try to get as many of the 9 shots as possible up and down.

Keep track of your best score and try to better it every time you practice from bunkers.


4. Ladder Drill

Speed is an essential component of hitting good bunker shots.

The more speed you generate the easier it will be to get the ball out of the bunker. Speed plays a role in how far the ball carries out of the bunker.

In order to ensure that you hit your landing spot more often than not, you have to practice good feel.

The ladder drill is great for practicing feel for distance out of a bunker.

Take 3 balls, hit the first shot short, the second shot long and then try to land the third ball in between the first 2.

As your feel improves, try to get the balls as close as possible to one another where you can hit the same shot 3 times in a row. This shows signs of skill as you have built distance control and improved your consistency!

5. Hit bunker shots with different clubs

Great golfers are ones who are always looking for ways to improve. Once you have control over hitting the stock, standard bunker shot, then it is time to broaden your horizons and advance your skills to the next level.

Using different clubs like a PW or 9 iron to hit bunker shots will add another dimension to your game.

Blasting out of the bunker is one thing, but getting it all the way back of green to a back flag can be a challenge.

Using the same technique but with a different club will produce results that roll out more. You don’t have to worry about flying the ball as far onto the green if you play a club that will have more roll.

Don’t be scared to experiment with different clubs in the bunker. Adding new shots to your repertoire is essential. You never know when you might have to use that shot.


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FAQ – Golf Bunkers

Is there a penalty for touching the sand with your club?

Yes, in a sand bunker you cannot set your club down so that it touches the sand at any time before the golf swing. Only during the golf swing can the club come down and make contact with the sand as it’s making contact with the golf ball on the downswing.

If you make contact with a sand bunker before the swing, it’s a two-stroke penalty in stroke play and a loss of the hole in match play.

How often should I practice sand bunker drills?

Ideally, you should allocate at least 10% of your practice time to bunker drills. Learning how to hit sand shots takes practice. It’s not easy making consistent contact to hit the ball out of the bunker.

What if my golf course doesn’t have a practice area bunker?

If you’re ready to work on bunker practice drills but realize your golf course doesn’t have a sand bunker as part of its practice area, then I would advise finding other local golf courses that have a practice bunker and using it instead.

The other option is to get extra sand bunker practice when you’re out on the golf course playing practice rounds.

After you finish each hole, step down into a sand bunker and hit a few extra shots onto the green to get real life experience and practice. Doing this for all 18 holes will add up to some good practice reps, helping you hit out of the sand more consistently.

Golf Drills & Practice Routines

If you want to take your golf game to the next level, see your scores drop, your drives get longer off the tee, less 3 putting, more up & downs, then you need to check out these resources below.

The 2 Hour Short Game Practice Plans

Build your putting and chipping skills by advancing from Level 1 all the way to Level 10. These practice routines take roughly 2 hours if you don’t have long to practice, perfect for high school golfers, college golfers, and those with a few hours after work at night. Print the worksheets and try to pass each level in the program.

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The Indoor Improvement Program

For 21 days, I walk you through practice drills and practice routines to build your putting skills, chipping skills, and golf swing indoors while the weather is keeping you off the golf course. Plus you get an 8 week workout plan to build golf strength and stability so you can drive the ball further and straighter. See all other bonuses we’ve thrown in.

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The Outdoor Practice Plan & Program

This 36 day training plan is easy to follow with step by step drills and routines that challenge your putting, chipping, and golf swing. You’ll work at the golf course on the practice range and practice green and it comes with worksheets to fill out after each practice to monitor your growth in each statistical category. See all other bonuses we’ve included.

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