Sand traps and bunkers are considered to be different hazards because of what material they are made from. Bunkers are typically comprised of a variety of materials and can be naturally made, while sand traps are man-made hazards that are only filled with sand.
Golf hazards serve as obstacles for players and consist of many different types. Hazards often position themselves in places where it is difficult for a golfer to avoid, such as along the fairway, making it difficult for low-skill players to avoid them. Such hazards include bodies of water, trees, sand traps, and bunkers. Perhaps the most frustrating of the hazards, sand traps and bunkers stop a golf ball in its tracks, providing a suitable challenge for golfers to overcome.
The biggest difference between sand traps and bunkers is the material they are composed of. Sand traps are man-made hazards that are composed of sand (hence the name). On the other hand, bunkers are not always man-made, and are often made of a variety of different materials. These materials can range from gravel and dirt, to tall grasses and pine straw. The composition of bunkers and sand traps provide a variety of different methods to deal with them. Sand traps often require golfers to use sand wedges to hit the ball, whereas bunkers can be tackled with a variety of different clubs.
Sand traps are often positioned in more strategic areas of the course, such as near the greens. They are man-made, which allows for this flexibility of location. In contrast, bunkers are often placed (or formed) in much less strategic locations on the course, and are often much further from the greens. In addition, sand traps must be played strategically, as there are certain rules a golfer must follow when attempting to hit a ball out of one.
Noting these differences, it is clear that while sand traps and bunkers are very similar, these hazards are not the same. Golfers must approach these two hazards differently in order to successfully understand and ultimately clear them.