HomeSportLearning golf with Mabikacheche: Learning golf —Part Eleven: Bunkers

Learning golf with Mabikacheche: Learning golf —Part Eleven: Bunkers

From this definition, are you clear on what it is? A bunker is said to be a hazard, but what is a hazard, one may ask? You need to go further and look for the definition of the word hazard. A hazard is defined as any bunker or water hazard. Still, has this explained what it is to your satisfaction? To me, it hasn’t

The key word which, according to me, is not being clearly explained or defined to the layman’s level of appreciation is “hazard”. To simplify what a hazard is, take it to mean danger area/zone, and where there is danger, avoid going there if you can. However, if your ball gets into it as will often happen, you need to be careful on how you play the shot otherwise you will perish in that danger trap, as it regularly happens to many. However, bunker shots are not as difficult as they are perceived to be. Many players, particularly the high handicaps, sweat when their shots end up in the bunker. There is no need to have bunker phobia. Think of bunker shots as one of those normal golf shots.

For beginners, your first goal when your ball is in it is to get out of that danger den without thinking much of getting it close to the hole. Once you are at the stage where you get out of the bunker with one stroke (hit), you should pat yourself and never look back. Your next task is to now control the distance and direction of its roll once on the green. You need to practice as much as possible to master this. Some take years before they grasp the bunker shot fundamentals.

You can surprise many people in a few months if you persistently practice this part of the short game. Aim to reach a stage where you can get out in one stroke and making one put, and at worst two putts to hole out. Go to a practice range where there are bunkers and practise regularly. You can also create your small bunker within your yard at home (Fig 23).  Many golfers do not prioritise this aspect of the game. The bunker shot is played in nearly the same way as you would play a pitch shot. With a bunker shot your set up should be such that your feet, knees and shoulders are parallel to the left of the target and your weight should be more on your left foot. The ball position should be more on the forward of your left foot (Fig 24).

Two types of bunkers you should expect to find on the course are fairway bunkers, and greenside bunkers. Let us for now concentrate on the greenside bunkers as not many golf courses have many fairway bunkers. On-non bunker shots, the club face strikes the ball first and then the ground. With a normal bunker shot-open the club face and the club should first hit the ground (sand). In fact the ball should not come into contact with the club face if it is a good bunker shot. The club’s leading edge should hit the sand just behind the ball, slicing some sand (Fig 25). The ball is helped out while it is cushioned by the sand and splashed onto the green, the ball being in front of the sand.

If there is any situation where I should re-emphasise the concept of, “Decelerate and you loose; Accelerate and you win” it is here. If you decelerate on impact, the ball will remain in the bunker, stroke (hit) after stroke (hit). I can assure you, by the time you get out you will be completely frustrated and feel like walking out of the course. You will not feeling the same for the rest of the round. Remembering that your backswing and downswing should be steep when playing bunker shots (particularly greenside bunkers), and accelerating through impact will pay you great dividends (Fig 23 & Fig 24).

For any feedback/ comments and any assistance you may need contact the writer, Tavenganiswa Mabikacheche at The Centre for Training and Research Services on email:  or mobile no. 263712200922 /263772319612

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