How to play a Bunker Shot, The Easiest Shot in Golf

You find yourself playing ok, but when you go in a greenside bunker your confidence is shot because you know your round could potentially be over.

How to Play a Bunker ShotIf this sounds familiar here are some tips on how to play a bunker shot.

A lot of professionals call this one the easiest shot in golf. This is simply because they are not actually striking the golf ball with the clubface. All they are doing is simply digging out sand.

There are two things you need to play this shot.

Use a Decent Lofted Wedge

You wouldn’t know it but a lot of more accomplished players actually use a 60 degree lob wedge out of bunkers. This is because of the extra loft which makes it easy to get the ball out of the sand. It also helps the better players get the ball up higher, and is easier for them to stop the ball in the vicinity of the flag.

Most wedges will have a slightly wider soleplate, which will help slide underneath the sand a lot easier. They also feature some technology called the Bounce. The bounce is the angle formed between the leading edge and the trailing edge in the clubs address position. The angles will range between 4 and 16 degrees, but if you are starting out a wedge with more bounce is ideal as it is the most forgiving. It also accommodates softer sand which will generally be practice bunkers. Basically, a wedge with more bounce is for softer sand, and a wedge with less bounce is for harder sand.

To best utilise the bounce of the wedge it is ideal to open up the face, as will be explained in the video at the bottom.

How-to-play-a-bunker-shot

Sound Technique and Fundamentals

Open Face – The first thing to do is to open the clubface and then take the grip. Opening the clubface and then taking the grip makes sure that the face will be open on the backswing.

Open Stance – Much like the chip or pitch shot you want to open your stance and aim slightly left of the target. If you are in a practice bunker you can draw a line left of the target and aim your feet on this line. Make sure your ball position is slightly forward of the centre of your stance.

Dig your feet in slightly – You want to get sand out on to the green, so getting your centre of gravity nice and low is ideal to achieve this. Your aim is to slide the clubhead underneath the ball and dig out sand.

Swing on an (out to in swing path) – During practice draw a line in the sand on the line of your feet which is aimed slightly left of the target. You want to swing the club on this line. This is one of the most helpful tips for playing a bunker shot and will give you consistency out of the sand if you implement it.

Cup the wrist slightly on the backswing – This is something you will notice a lot of better bunker players implement. It will increase loft, and help you get more height on your bunker shots which will help the ball stop quicker. For the right-handed player this means cupping the left wrist on the backswing. The opposite happens for the left-handed player.How-to-play-a-bunker-shot

Dig out sand two inches behind the ball – Just make a slight mark two inches behind the ball, and your goal is to dig out the sand before the ball in this area. This will only apply to a practice bunker as grounding your golf club in a bunker during competition will add penalty strokes to your score.

How to play a Bunker Shot

Followthrough – Much like a full swing the followthrough and the completion of the swing is important. You can practice splashing out sand onto the practice green initially to get a feel.

Just practice doing these simple tips and before you know it you will start getting out of the sand with ease.

Repetition will give you confidence and that’s when you can start picking where you want the ball to land which is where the real fun begins.

For more advice, you can watch the below video by Touring Professional Stuart Appleby. He will show you just how easy it can be to hit a bunker shot.

12 thoughts on “How to play a Bunker Shot, The Easiest Shot in Golf

  1. Anjali_ak

    Hello Chris,
    I know next to nothing about golf. But since I have some spare time these days I’m looking forward to gain some new experiences and when I read your page I thought to give golf a shot. The way you explain the each step made it very easy to understand how to play a Bunker shot. 🙂

    1. Chris Post author

      Hi

      Thanks for your comments.

      You might not know too much about golf but it is actually pretty easy to pick up with the correct guidance.

      Good Luck when you give it a try and any questions let me know.

      Cheers

      Chris

  2. Glen

    Yes, it is the easiest shot on the golf course (not considering the putt). Not only do you not have to hit the ball directly, as you stated, but the sand is generally consistent throughout the golf course. That cannot be said of the lie in the rough or on the fairways. It is my favorite shot to play.

    1. Chris Post author

      Hi Glen

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes the theory that the greenside bunker shot is an easy one makes sense because you are not actually hitting the golf ball. You are simply digging out sand but the correct technique will go along way to success.

      Thanks

      Chri

  3. Andrew

    Nice post that will help a lot of golfers get out of the dreaded greenside bunker. I like the title of your post, “the easiest shot in golf”. I bet a lot of golfers will say Yeah Right!

    Surprisingly, so many golfers just hate bunkers. I for one am not worriedwhenever I get into a bunker. I learned not to over complicate the bunker shot, and pretty much treat it similar to any other chip shot, ensuring you take a fair chunk of sand with it.

    What tips do you have of your dealing with different qualities of sand? I’ve been in all kinds of bunkers, some with light fluffy sand, and others with sand that is quite solid. Would you change how you tackle a bunker depending on the sand quality?

    1. Chris Post author

      Hi Andrew

      I appreciate your comments.

      Yes the bunker shot can be a dreaded shot for some golfers. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier though.

      As for the different types of sand, I would first determine where you play most of your golf, and whether or not they have a consistency of hard or soft bunkers. This is tough, as the bunkers at some golf courses are not consistent and some are hard and some are soft. A club with more bounce would be ideal for the soft sand and a club with less bounce would be ideal for the hard sand.

      For the soft sand make sure the clubface is well open to the target and use the bounce of the club. This will help get the club underneath the ball and take out some sand.

      For the firmer bunker shots you only need to open the clubface ever so slightly. The bounce does not work as well on harder sand and less loft is needed to get the golf ball onto the green. Swinging a bit easier and not hitting the ball as hard is also ideal for the firmer greenside bunker shot.

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Any further questions let me know.

      Cheers

      Chri

  4. Ryan

    I must say, seeing the words “easiest shot” made me a skeptic because this is the shot that I’ve always counted as an automatic failure. I’m eager to put a lot of these techniques into practie. Especially when you mentioned hitting behind the ball and essentially lifting the ball out with the clump of sand you dig out, am I right?

    Thanks for your article

    1. Chris Post author

      Hey Ryan

      Thanks for your comments.

      Yes, with a greenside bunker shot you are essentially just digging out sand about 2 to 3 inches behind the ball. This is why the pros call it the easiest shot in golf. The clubface does not actually make contact with the golf ball. If you implement some of the basics and do a little bit of practice, the shot becomes simple

      Any questions let me know.

      Cheers

      Chris

  5. Mark

    Excellent information for success out of the bunker. Had a look at some of the complimentary You Tube vids, more great tips. One other tip not mentioned that I got from Gary Player, stay nice and low which helps to flatten out the swing plane. All in all, super informative and well done. Thanks.

    Cheers,
    Mark

    1. Chris Post author

      Hi Mark

      Thanks for your comments.

      Yes the great Gary Player would definitely have some good advice. Digging your feet into the sand and staying low through the shot will help consistently get the ball out of the bunker.

      Good luck in your next game.

      Cheers

      Chris

  6. Bobby

    Thanks for all the information on your site. Great information.
    I don’t play golf as much as I would like to but I love the game.
    Many times I find myself in the bunker but never know for sure how to get out until now.
    I have several clubs that could be used in this situation. I have a U, L, S, P. What does the U stand for? Could it be used for this? I can’t wait to have a nice day here so I can try the method shown on your video.
    Thanks so much.

    1. Chris Post author

      Hi Bobby

      I appreciate your comments.

      The U stands for Utility, which is basically a Gap Wedge. Ping use this as the name of their Gap Wedge. Ideally you want to use a Sand Wedge or Lob Wedge in the sand as both have more bounce (Golf Wedge Bounce, Explained) on them.

      The bunker shot requires practice, but implementing some of the basics will certainly help out golfers.

      Cheers

      Chris

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