Bunker coaching

Childhood memories

The sand. Many children grow to love sand. The freedom of the beach. Blue skies, rolling waves, open spaces and the feel of sand between your toes. Many idyllic childhood memories are formed standing in sand. Sadly the thought of the fairway bunker or green-side trap on the golf course does not yield such warm and tender memories or thoughts for many golfers. But wouldn’t it be great if they did? The fact is they can.

Reality check

Getting out of a bunker is just another type of shot on the golf course. Indeed when the mechanics are understood it is relatively straightforward, however this does not prevent many golfers from mentally melting as they take their first tentative step in to the bunker. Tension from evolutionary “fight or flight” responses play a significant part in what many incorrectly see as failure. The close proximity of the hole also creates additional tension, however these factors can be overcome with a goal designed to do so.

Focus on failure

I have seen and heard golfers openly state ‘that I will be happy to get out in three.’ That is a classic example of the golfer’s ego getting in the way of their performance and learning. It is also an example of focusing on something negative, and more often than not we get what we focus our minds upon. This isn’t unique to bunkers, this ability to focus on a hazard from the tee is equally common (I must not go in the water), however the use of bunkers to coach away this negative mindset offers benefits around the course.

Positive outcome

Thankfully it is a relatively straightforward task to develop the correct technique especially when coaching with awareness in a non-judgemental environment. That is exactly what my bunker coaching session is designed to do, and you yourself will learn that bunkers don’t just cost you shots when you are in them, a fear of entering a bunker, or even the sight of one, can produce dropped shots on subsequent holes. Remember, you don’t need to be in a bunker to experience the damage it causes your scorecard.

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Bunkers have a nasty habit of creating tension even when you aren't in them. The prospect of finishing in a bunker, especially if you have to play over one, can tighten your muscles prior to your swing or even force you to play around it instead of over it. Bunker fear can even creep in when over 150 yards away from one standing on the tee. Many golfers relive past negative bunker experiences just as they begin their backswing.

The great Bobby Jones once said "the moment the average golfer attempts to play from long grass or a bunker or from a difficult lie of any kind, he becomes a digger instead of a swinger. "