How to become the best bunker player you know

New series from Martin Hall seeks to demystify one of the scariest places on any golf course.
How can imagining swinging between two walls make you a better bunker player? Martin Hall explains in his new series.

Bunker play is typically the last skill a developing golfer learns, and the shakiest skill in even an experienced golfer's bag. That's because it is counter-intuitive to just about every other aspect of golf, which focuses on solid, ball-first contact.

Anyone who has sent a bladed shot sailing over the green and into someone's backyard knows that it's essential to strike the sand such that the ball flies high and lands softly on the putting surface.

Sounds simple, but it's endlessly complicated, which is why Martin Hall's new series on GolfPass, Build a Better Game: Bunkers is such a welcome addition. With the first of two volumes premiering today, it is a comprehensive tutorial on how to escape the sand you may encounter. All segments are worth your time, but here are three that I found particularly useful.

Basic Splash Shot: Mirrors and toothbrushes

You're ready to watch!
You can now enjoy GolfPass videos and more.
Play_Icon Play
Basic Splash Shot
Unlock your best golf ever.
Create a free account to access GolfPass instruction, originals, and Golf Channel classics.
Already a member?
*Terms and conditions apply. Gift eligible after paid membership starts.
GolfPass Logo
GolfNow Logo
Compete Logo
Basic Splash Shot

Without getting too technical, having an understanding of how a wedge interacts with the sand in a bunker can go a long way toward helping you become a better bunker player. In this segment, Hall starts out with a quick and very simple explanation of bounce - why your wedge has it and how it will help you escape from greenside bunkers. From that fundamental starting point, his recap of the basics of greenside bunker shots makes total sense, from ball position to alignment to technique. You'll also appreciate Hall's clever use of two visual aids: a mirror and a toothbrush.

Plugged Lie: Turn the toe into a knife

You're ready to watch!
You can now enjoy GolfPass videos and more.
Play_Icon Play
How to Play a Plugged Lie in the Bunker
Unlock your best golf ever.
Create a free account to access GolfPass instruction, originals, and Golf Channel classics.
Already a member?
*Terms and conditions apply. Gift eligible after paid membership starts.
GolfPass Logo
GolfNow Logo
Compete Logo
How to Play a Plugged Lie in the Bunker

No golfer ever wants to see a ball plugged in a bunker, but it happens a lot, especially on courses whose bunkers have soft sand. There are two ways to escape this nasty predicament: one fairly basic and one a little bit more advanced. The basic technique comes from a former Ryder Cup player, while the more advanced one comes with a must-see highlight courtesy of 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.

Fairway Bunkers: 'Three-L Protocol'

You're ready to watch!
You can now enjoy GolfPass videos and more.
Play_Icon Play
Fairway Bunker Basics
Unlock your best golf ever.
Create a free account to access GolfPass instruction, originals, and Golf Channel classics.
Already a member?
*Terms and conditions apply. Gift eligible after paid membership starts.
GolfPass Logo
GolfNow Logo
Compete Logo
Fairway Bunker Basics

Part of what makes Hall one of the world's most effective teachers of golf is the way he can make complicated concepts easy to remember. His advice for escaping fairway bunkers is no exception, with what he calls the "Three-L Protocol." It sounds formal and complicated but, true to form, it is actually remarkably simple. If you struggle out of fairway bunkers, this will be a wonderful guide for you.

What's the best bunker tip you've ever received? Share with your fellow golfers in the comments below.

Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for GolfPass. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
2 Comments
Commented on

All good advice. Very helpful even though I have played for over 60 years.

Commented on

Love the wall description!

More from the author
4 Min Read
November 26, 2023
Whether on arrival day, getaway day or a layover, you'll be glad you squeezed in a round at these courses.
3 Min Read
November 26, 2023
From lightning to thunder-punches, disaster can strike on the golf course.
3 Min Read
November 20, 2023
As black-and-white photos of new golf equipment appear on the USGA and R&A equipment lists, we're getting excited about trying out some new clubs for the 2024 season.
4 Min Read
November 15, 2023
From Pebble Beach to Greece, the possibilities for a bucket-list trip span continents.
4 Min Read
November 15, 2023
The streaming giant picked golf as the medium for its foray into live sports. How did it go?
3 Min Read
November 12, 2023
Rounds at tough-to-access private clubs, luxury travel experiences and more are on offer, all for a good cause.
Popular
6 Min Read
November 6, 2023
We make golf gift shopping easier with this handy guide.
2 Min Read
November 20, 2023
Golf is a game of control and composure. Don't lose yours by tossing a club.
1 Min Read
October 31, 2023
If you want to hole more putts, you should take the advice of the world's greatest golfers.
8 Min Read
November 12, 2023
The rise of artists launching their own companies has changed the way golfers use wall art that impresses their co-workers on Zoom.
Now Reading
How to become the best bunker player you know