Playing from a bunker can be an inevitable necessity throughout a round of golf. A round played with the concern of avoiding these hazards can make for an unpleasant day.

Watching those that make a living at playing golf, it can be seen that playing from a bunker can actually be more welcomed than playing from the rough. Next time you’re working on your golf game, budget some time for working on your bunker play and think of a few of these ideas.

Assess the lie of the ball — By taking a moment to visually assess the lie of your ball in the bunker, you can begin to plan the potential outcome of you shot. In addition, when evaluating the outcome of you shot, you’ll now have a reference of what you may expect on future shots. When evaluating the lie of your ball, you’ll want to notice if you’ll be playing from an uphill, downhill, or sidehill lie. You’ll also want to notice if your ball is resting below or on top of the surface of the sand. This information will prove helpful in emulating your practice swings.

Use your feet — As you enter the bunker, take note of the texture of the sand with your feet. Noticing whether the sand is loose and granular, soft and dry, or wet and compact, are conditions that will affect the outcome of our shot. After taking the lie of your ball and the conditions of the sand into account, we can begin to take our footing.

For greenside bunker play, we want to open our stance and account roughly for a 45-degree angle between your target line and the line formed by your feet. As you take your stance begin to dig your feet into the ground. As you do this you should not only be creating a solid foundation for your swing, but also investigating the depth of the surface layer of sand. You should start to feel a firm layer under your feet roughly two to four inches under the surface; this knowledge will prove useful in knowing you shot options.

Sand that is loose and deep will promote a shot with less spin. Conversely, sand that is firm and shallow will produce a shot with controllable spin. Additionally, the depth you dig your feet into the sand will influence your shot. Dig in deeper or less if your shot requires you taking a large or little amount sand with your swing.

Open your clubface — The bounce and sole radius on your sand wedge is designed to help you with your bunker shot. By opening the face of your club we are promoting the club to skim, not dig, through the sand. By controlling and experimenting with the degree in which you open your clubface, you can control the amount of sand taken with the swing and the amount of spin applied to the ball.

Swing along your body — Remember you’ve opened your stance considerably. We want to swing along your body and avoid any idea that we need to swing at our target. This swing path along with the open clubface will encourage the splash of sand we’re looking for in removing your ball from the bunker.

Get your ball out — The first and foremost thing to think of in regards to bunker play is to get your ball out of this hazard. After you know you can successfully accomplish this, you can then start to think of where you’d like to be on the green and how close you can attempt to get your ball to the hole. Remember, a bunker is a hazard and they are designed to penalize, so playing to the hole may not always be an option.

Take some of these ideas with you next time you step into a bunker and experiment with different lies in the sand and stance possibilities.

Here at Raven Nest Golf Club, we are gearing up for the upcoming season. New merchandise will begin coming in shortly, and with the spring weather, we will resume and introduce our player development program.

Now is a great time to take advantage of the affordable golf membership options, financing is available through First National Bank. Full facility memberships, including green fees, cart fees, and unlimited range usage for members and their immediate family, begin at $103.79 a month.

For more information on these programs or to book your tee time contact the golf shop at or call (936) 438-8588.

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