Players with high golf handicaps rack up 7s and 8s because they either fail to fully escape from trouble or they hit into more trouble.
Either way, they have to make another difficult shot.
These additional shots add up, boosting their scores and turning a good round into a bad.
Golfers with low golf handicaps don't make those kinds of mistakes.
Landing in a bunker is among the worst mistakes golfers with high golf handicaps can make.
Many golfers have trouble getting out of bunkers, but those with high handicaps are probably the worst.
Either they fail to get out of the bunker or they skull the ball over the green, landing in thick rough or under a tree.
By executing good bunker shots, you'll knock two or three strokes off your golf handicap.
Often, it's just a matter of improving your technique and building your confidence.
The Basics Many weekend golfers get so intimidated by a bunker shot, they become unraveled and forget what to do.
To improve bunker play, you first need to collect your thoughts.
Then you need to focus on the basics-your approach and your setup.
Whether you're in a fairway or a greenside bunker, you must make a recovery shot.
The most important thing to remember is to get back in play any way you can.
Don't compound the situation by trying to do more than you're capable of doing.
If you lack confidence playing from a fairway bunker, then grab a sand wedge and play the safest possible shot.
In other words, find the easiest escape route then use it.
Look for the lowest point of the bunker's lip and the shortest carry distance to the fairway.
Then, hit an explosion shot like you would for a greenside bunker shot, if you have to.
Remember, there are no style points for these shots.
Just get the ball out and onto the fairway.
If you have more confidence in playing from a fairway bunker, your goal changes.
Now you want to advance the ball toward the green and leave yourself some comfortable yardage for your next shot.
Choose a club with enough loft to get you over the lip, set up with more weight on your front leg, and make a downward stroke.
Grip down on the club slightly and swing about 85 percent, picking the ball cleanly from the sand.
Make ball first contact.
If you really have confidence playing from a fairway bunker, aim for the center of the green, not the pin.
Greenside Bunker Shots Your goal with a greenside bunker shot is different.
You want to get onto the green and at worst two-putt.
That's easier said than down, but it's doable.
If you have a high golf handicap, don't worry about advancing the ball toward the hole.
Just get it out and onto the green.
If it's close, that's great.
If it's not, that's okay, too.
You're still putting, and anytime you're putting, you have a chance to sink it.
Setting up correctly is half the battle with greenside bunkers.
Play the ball slightly forward of center, open your stance and the club face, and place your hands and the shaft slightly behind the ball.
Visualize the ball within a six-inch square box.
Now blast all the sand from the box, riding the ball on a cushion of sand.
The biggest mistake high handicappers make is getting timid and decelerating their swing.
Hit the ball like you're hitting a 60-yard shot off grass.
If you do, you'll accelerate through the ball naturally.
Uneven Lies Uneven lies are difficult, even for golfers with low golf handicaps.
If you have a high handicap, be extra careful with these lies.
The key is remembering to tilt your shoulders to match the slope.
On up slopes, your back shoulder will be higher than the front, with more weight on the back foot.
Your shaft will be at a right angle to the ball.
On down slopes, your front shoulder will be lower than your back, with your weight on your front foot.
Swing down the hill.
The ball will emerge low and roll.
If you're really serious about improving your bunker play, take some golf lessons from your local pro and read as many golf tips on the subject as you can.
Improving your bunker pays off.
It cuts strokes from your golf handicap and builds self-confidence.