How to Control Distance in the Sand

Controlling your distance out of the sand is one of the most difficult tasks on the golf course, but one that you can improve on with practice. Getting the distance right from the greenside bunker can mean the difference between an easy putt for par and just trying to two-putt for your bogey. Once you are able to get out of the sand with ease, the next step is learning how to manage the distance you hit the shots so that they can nestle nice and close to the hole.

Take the following tips out onto the course with you to work on getting the distance just right on your bunker shots:

  1. Play the slope. Before you hit your shot, analyze the green and make sure that you are playing for any slope or ridge that might be present. You should actually read the green similarly to how you would for a putt so you can anticipate the roll out that you are going to get. A bunker shot only flies a short distance in the air and usually rolls the rest of the way - getting the roll part right is just as important as flying the ball the right distance.
  2. Take a big, slow swing. The best bunker players use long, slow swings to thump the ball out of the sand. Quick and short swings tend to get stuck in the sand and struggle to control the distance. Work on having a nice, long swing out of the bunker to gauge your distance better shot after shot.
  3. Use the right club. There is no rule that says you have to use your sand wedge when in the bunker. If you have a longer bunker shot, you can go down to a nine-iron or PW to get a flatter ball flight and a little extra roll. Remember, that if you use a lower-lofted club to get out of the sand, you won't get as high of a ball flight, so you need to have a lower lip in front of you to clear the sand and reach the green.

Getting the ball close to the hole from the bunker is a talent that requires some practice and experience. Pay attention to the result of each bunker shot you hit and learn from them - over time, you can accumulate those experiences and become a better bunker player.