What Is a Sand Trap on a Golf Course?

golfer plays a shot from a sand trap

A "sand trap" is a depression or hollowed-out area on a golf course that has been filled with sand. A sand trap, in other words, is a bunker.

Bunker is the more commonly used term, but sand trap is also in everyday usage on the golf course. "Sand trap" and "bunker" are, among most golfers, interchangeable. Sand traps can also be calls sand bunkers or just traps. (See also: 34 slang terms golfers have for bunkers and sand.)

Sand traps often show up on golf courses as things golfers are forced to play around or over, or as areas golfers need to plan their way around or aim to avoid. Sand traps thereby add to the tactical and strategic play, a golfer's "course management" skills.

They are most commonly encountered alongside fairways and around putting greens. The size and shape of sand traps varies widely from trap to trap — they can be tiny or huge or anything in-between; uniform in shape, circular, oblong, or weirdly shaped. Some golfers courses have a lot of them, while others have zero traps.

In the Official Rules of Golf, bunkers are referred to as "specially prepared areas intended to test the player's ability to play a ball from the sand." The official definition of a bunker, as it appears in the rulebook, is this: "A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed."

Is one term — sand trap or bunker — preferred over the other? Is one or the other term considered correct? The two governing bodies of golf, the R&A and USGA, never use the term "sand trap," sticking only with "bunker." So, technically, bunker is the correct term. And because of that, bunker, throughout the golf world, is the more commonly used word. But "sand trap" (outside of a rules context) is perfectly acceptable, and is very commonly used among everyday golfers.

The rules relating to sand traps — er, bunkers — are covered in Rule 12 of the Official Rules of Golf.

Related articles:

Photo credit: Photo by Mike Cox on Unsplash

Popular posts from this blog